Report and Reaction: Whitecaps pay the penalty as they fall to Rapids loss

Report and Reaction: Whitecaps pay the penalty as they fall to Rapids loss

(Photo Credit: Colorado Rapids)

Winless in two and scoreless in two, Vancouver Whitecaps headed into Commerce City on Wednesday evening for a key encounter with a Colorado Rapids side level on points with them and exactly the kind of team the ‘Caps need to be beating if they are to be seen as serious top four contenders in the West.

With just two points separating the ‘Caps in 4th to St Louis in 9th, every point is a prisoner for Vancouver right now and Colorado came away with all three with a 1-0 victory.

The decisive moment came from the spot just before half time, with Rafael Navarro firing home after a video review saw Bjorn Inge Utvik penalised for a handball and receiving a red card in the process for the denial of a goalscoring opportunity.

Colorado could have added to their tally in the second, with Brian White squandering a fantastic opportunity to snatch a dramatic point for the visitors.

With the games coming thick and fast, Vanni Sartini made five changes to his starting line-up, two at the back, two in the middle, and with Levonte Johnson coming in for Fafa Picault on the wing.

As feels the norm these days, it was Vancouver’s opponents who enjoyed the better of the early possession, but the Whitecaps had the first real chance of the game on a quick transition play in the 15th minute.

Ali Ahmed brought the ball forward, playing the ball outside to Johnson. The ‘Caps winger cut inside and his low shot was deflected out for a corner.

Vancouver kept the pressure on and Pedro Vite unleashed a fierce strike from 25 yards out that Colorado keeper Zach Steffen had to punch over.

Ranko Veselinovic had a header from a corner that went over before the Rapids had their best chance of the game so far when Djordje Mihailovic sent a perfect cross into the box but Kevin Cabral got his header all wrong.

Neither side were really able to carve out too many clear cut chances, but a streaking Johnson nearly put the ‘Caps ahead in the 39th minute, showing nice footwork to set up an opportunity, but Steffen came up with a huge save to paw away the deft chip over the Rapids keeper and the game remained scoreless.

The Whitecaps were looking the more likely to break the deadlock and a stretching Brian White couldn’t fully connect with a low Ahmed cross in from the right.

The Rapids went straight up the pitch and Mihailovic looked certain to score from a Cole Bassett cutback, but Bjorn Inge Utvik produced what initially looked like a stunning last ditch challenge to deflect the ball away. Video review, however, felt the ball was deflected away by Utvik’s arm, referee Alexis Da Silva agreed after seeing the replays and the Rapids had a penalty.

Colorado also found themselves with a man advantage as Da Silva sent the Norwegian off for the denial of a goalscoring opportunity.

After the dust had settled, and now five minutes into first half stoppage time, Navarro sent Yohei Takaoka the wrong way and Colorado had a 1-0 lead heading into the break and Vancouver had a mountain to climb in the altitude.

Vancouver tried to make the running at the start of the second half to get themselves back into the match, but that was leaving space at the back and Colorado were taking advantage of it.

Bassett curled one just wide of the postage stamp corner in the 53rd minute, before Omir Fernandez should have doubled the Rapids lead two minutes later, pulling his shot from a perfect Sam Vines set up inches past the left post.

Keegan Rosenberry was next to come close for the home side just before the hour mark, before a flying Takaoka turned over a Calvin Harris effort from the edge of the box in the 64th minute.

It was all Colorado now and Mihailovic flashed one inches past the left post in the 68th minute, but seemingly reinjuring his heel in the process and was forced to go off.

Vines sent a perfect ball across the Whitecaps goal in the 75th minute that somehow evaded everybody in another close call for the ‘Caps but they responded by having their best chance to level things up.

White did well to get onto a long ball forward and with Steffen off his line, the striker’s attempted lob was way too high and flew over, when he really should have done better.

Colorado had a couple more half chances, with Vancouver unable to find a foothold in the game and the Rapids came away with three very important points in the playoff picture.

It was a game that saw the Rapids rise to 4th in the West and the Whitecaps sink to 7th, piling on the pressure for their trip to Seattle at the weekend. At 11-v-11, I think the ‘Caps would have taken something from this game, whether that would be all three points though, I’m unsure. That’s 345 minutes now without a goal and there’s too many players off their game at the moment at the same time.

Although there’s certainly some positives from that first 44 and a half minutes, the play of Ahmed, Vite, and Johnson in particular, somethings needs to shake up this team to get some of that early season spark back. And they need to find it quickly.

FINAL SCORE: Colorado Rapids 1 – 0 Vancouver Whitecaps

ATT: 11,190

45’+5 – COL – Rafael Navarro (penalty kick)

Possession: COL 54.6% – VAN 45.4%
Shots: COL 17 – VAN 8
Shots on Goal: COL 3 – VAN 2
Saves: COL 2 – VAN 2
Fouls: COL 5 – VAN 10
Offsides: COL 3 – VAN 1
Corners: COL 8 – VAN 6

45’+3 – VAN – Bjørn Inge Utvik

COLORADO: Zack Steffen; Keegan Rosenberry, Moïse Bombito, Andreas Maxsø, Sam Vines; Oliver Larraz (Connor Ronan 62’), Cole Bassett; Kévin Cabral (Calvin Harris 62’), Djordje Mihailovic (Jasper Löffelsend 71’), Omir Fernández (Jonathan Lewis 81’); Rafael Navarro (Darren Yapi 81’) [Substitutes not used: Adam Beaudry, Lalas Abubakar, Sebastian Anderson, Jackson Travis]

VANCOUVER: Yohei Takaoka; Javain Brown (Fafà Picault 72’), Ranko Veselinović, Bjørn Inge Utvik; Ali Ahmed, Pedro Vite, Andrés Cubas (Cyprian Kachwele 88’), Luís Martins (Ryan Raposo 62’); Ryan Gauld, Brian White, Levonte Johnson (Tristan Blackmon 62’) [Substitutes not used: Isaac Boehmer, Mathías Laborda, Alessandro Schöpf, Ralph Priso, Sebastian Berhalter]




On his team’s performance in the first half:

“I think it was a very good match, we knew that it was going to be a little bit vertical, they are a very aggressive team, but they also are aggressive when they defend, so they can be beaten in behind. We were able to be really, really good at neutralizing them for 44 minutes and having the possibility every time that we get the ball to go and try to break the first line, try on the weak side and go. Levonte [Johnson] did very well, he had two big chances. We had a couple chances with Pedro [Vite] and I think in the first half, we were the best team.”

On his team’s mentality in the second half after going down to 10 men:

“I think [the second half] says a lot. We really did what we were supposed to do and it’s really hard when you don’t touch the ball too much and you’re also down in the score. You can become very frustrated and try to win the ball, even if it’s impossible to win it, and press in hard when you are ten men. So what we did was really good and it tells you a lot because until the end, everyone was running, until the end everyone was giving 100 percent and it’s a good thing that we did the second half in this way. I’m still a little bummed that we didn’t score the 1-1 at the end that I think we fully deserved, because in the first half we were the best team.”


On his thoughts on the match overall:

“Tough game. Honestly, the head is hot right now but, I don’t know, we tried everything in the second half, but that situation at the end of the first half really threw us off. We tried to stay in the game, and we did it in the second half but it was hard to make chances and hard to score so it’s a shame. We had some chances in the first half, we didn’t score and had an unlucky situation that cost us points today.”

On how the team can mentally bounce back ahead of Seattle on Saturday:

“I think we will be good, we have had these situations even in previous seasons. We’ve been in worse situations last season and seasons before that, so I think we have experienced players, enough smart guys. We’re going to have meetings in the next two days to talk and say ‘let’s go back to the basics, let’s just try to be super good in the defence and then try to score goals because we haven’t scored in MLS in I think three games. So I think we will be good, we just need to be 100 percent from as soon as we land in Vancouver. Tomorrow morning we have training and we have to start preparing for that game.”



On the match:

“Yeah, look, it was another tough game for us. We came out ahead on the night against a good team, it’s nice to see the boys win in a different way, to manage the game the way they did. After halftime being up a man, I thought it was a mature performance in the second half, which is never easy just because you’re up a man. I saw some good stuff there in the second half and we had a lot of control. Yes, it’s a shutout, which is really important. It’s a victory here for us at home. The fans once again came out. Pride night is so important to our club, to so many of our fans, and to our team. So yes, even extra special on the night. We look forward to a few days from now. We know what’s coming up.”

On Saturday’s matchup against RSL for the Rocky Mountain Cup:

“I wish we were hosting this one. This Rocky Mountain Cup is such an important cup to us as a team and to our fans. It would have been nice if maybe we played one on the road and then one at home, or one home and one on the road. To have the first two on the road, it’s tricky but that’s what it is. The fact that we have the slight edge at the moment is what it is, it’s an edge. We have a lot of work to do to go there and get the trophy. However, I think you can go through an entire season and not really play for a trophy, and now we are 12 games in or so. The fact that we have a chance to bring one home this early in the season, that we’ve put ourselves in that spot, is a really big positive. We know Salt Lake, they’re a really good team. We’ve played them and we’ve gotten a look at them, but they also have managed a busy week. What team do they put out? It’d be hard to predict that and then even prepare in detail without knowing exactly who they’re putting out with two days [to go]. I think the most important thing is that we went there, we had a victory, and the guys have some confidence that we can go there again. To be clear, we will be going after that. It’s important to our fans. After the match tonight, I can’t say how many were chanting “Beat Salt Lake”, so we will go after them with everything that we have. I can promise our fans that.”

On Rafael Navarro’s performance:

“There’s so much more that goes into it for goal scorers like him. I think the club knows that he can score and there’s a lot of trust in him from his teammates as well. We said that we have to get him into spots to do that. If it’s at the penalty spot, that’s one way, but you can see that he’s dangerous in many other moments. He’s worked hard at all the little things in his game, the holdup play, he’s a real worker. To see him get rewarded, as his coach I’m always happy that these guys can – I wasn’t a goal scorer, I scored a few in my time but not too many – but I know that feeling for him, I know it has to feel good.”


On the match:

“Yeah, it’s a weird one. We’re happy with the win, but for me, especially as an attacker, you want to get goals and assists in that game. And yeah, we didn’t get enough in the second half. Personally, a little frustrated that we didn’t score more. I think our progression as a team is, we’ve had a couple of times where teams have gotten red cards this year and we haven’t buried a lot of chances, even though we’ve created a few of them. So, I think that’s the next step as a team. Obviously, we’re happy with getting the win, moving into a tie for second place and then you know, a big game on the weekend.”

On what bringing home the Rocky Mountain Cup would mean to him:

“I think that was technically my first trophy per se, in professional football back in 2020 when we did it at their place, so that’d be special to do it there again. I mean, you have a chance to go there and end it before they have a chance to come here. So, I think if you have an opportunity to win twice in their building that would be pretty sweet, but they’re on a roll right now. They’re a very good team, there’s a reason why they are first in the West. We’ve got a quick recovery and we’re going to have to have a quick match plan, but I know the coaches are already preparing for that and just going to get us prepared so that we have the best chance to win the game.”


Authored by: Michael McColl

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.