Report and Reaction: White saves ‘Caps in Colorado as rough road stretch finally ends

Report and Reaction: White saves ‘Caps in Colorado as rough road stretch finally ends

Vancouver Whitecaps squandered the chance to move into the top four of the MLS Western Conference on Wednesday evening, as the toll taken from seven straight grueling games on the road was clear to see after giving up the lead before clawing back a point in a 2-2 draw at Colorado Rapids.

A fast-paced start saw the ‘Caps go ahead 11 minutes in with Mathias Laborda’s first goal in MLS. They could and should have added to their tally before half time. The problem was they didn’t and the Rapids came out as a completely different looking side in the second, as sadly did the Whitecaps, who looked tired and disjointed.

Diego Rubio brought the home side level two minutes after the restart before Cole Basset headed them ahead midway through the second half. Vancouver looked done and dusted but found it within themselves to fight back and salvage a point through a powerful Brian White header with 12 minutes remaining.

Disappointing to drop point against the worst team in the conference, but when you take a step back, weigh everything up, and realise they took more points than they lost on their seven game road stretch, losing just twice in the process, they’ve done well overall and better than most would have expected.

Vanni Sartini went with the 4-3-2-1 Christmas tree formation for the first time in nearly three months in what, on paper, looked an excellent and attacking set up to round off the road spell.

And Vancouver certainly came out all guns blazing, taking the game to Colorado and getting the early breakthrough in the 11th minute when Laborda fired home after Tristan Blackmon flicked on a Ryan Gauld corner and the ball fell to the Uruguayan after ricocheting around in the box.

Brian White almost made it two just three minutes later when a Sam Adekugbe cross came to him in the box but he was denied by an excellent sprawling save from Colorado keeper Marko Ilic.

Despite their pressure that was as good as it was to get for the Whitecaps from this spell and they slowly let the Rapids back into the match, without really testing Yohei Takaoka in the ‘Caps goal.

Andreas Maxsø came close to levelling in the 43rd minute when he got onto a Connor Ronan free kick but fired into the side netting.

The ‘Caps should have gone into the break two up but Richie Laryea blasted over from a good position two minutes into stoppage time when he should have scored.

You wondered if it was going to be a costly miss and you soon found out as Colorado came out looking like a totally different side in the second half.

Taking the game to Vancouver, the home side tied things up when Rubio got two bites at the cherry to bury a low Calvin Harris cross into the box just two minutes after the restart.

The ‘Caps had their woes added to when Gauld was forced out of the game minutes later with a foot contusion that could see him miss out on Saturday’s return to BC Place against D.C. United.

Moise Bombito had a couple of chances to put the Rapids into the lead just past the hour mark, first bringing out a point blank save from Takaoka from close range and then just failing to get on the end of a cross to the back post moments later.

The Whitecaps looked all at sea and the Rapids deservedly took the lead in the 67th minute when Basset was left totally unmarked to head home a Ronan corner.

Horrible set-piece marking once again by the ‘Caps but it had been coming all half as the home side launched attack after attack.

Sartini rang the changes and the shellshocked visitors slowly started to find some kind of rhythm again without really threatening an equaliser.

They got it though with 12 minutes remaining when White rose well to head home a Sebastian Berhalter corner and all of a sudden the game was all square again. It was White’s 13th MLS goal, placing him just two off the Golden Boot race, and his 17th across all competitions in what has become a career year for the American. His second of such as a Whitecap.

The Whitecaps really needed to find a winner and although they pressed, they showed little purpose or likelihood of finding it.

Luis Diaz brought a save out of Takaoka in stoppage time on a quick Colorado counter-attack. Vancouver then went up the pitch and Alessandro Schopf brought a save out of Ilic at the other end, but that was to be it. A disappointing share of the points and a blown opportunity for the Whitecaps to move into the top four in the West and really control their playoff destiny.

It’s one of those draws that feels like a loss. It felt like a must win game and they didn’t. Saturday’s now feels even bigger and they might have to do it without their talisman. After that they face the top three teams in the West.

Seven points from their last four matches guarantees Vancouver a postseason berth. If they achieve that, they’ll have done it the hardest way possible. The playoff mentality starts now.

FINAL SCORE: Colorado Rapids 2 – 2 Vancouver Whitecaps

ATT: 12,064

11’ – VAN – Mathías Laborda (Richie Laryea, Brian White)
47’ – COL – Diego Rubio (Calvin Harris)
67’ – COL – Cole Basset (Connor Ronan)
78’ – VAN – Brian White (Sebastian Berhalter)

Possession: COL 52.4% – VAN 47.6%
Shots: COL 13 – VAN 11
Shots on Goal: COL 8 – VAN 4
Saves: COL 2 – VAN 6
Fouls: COL 11 – VAN 13
Offsides: COL 0 – VAN 0
Corners: COL 7 – VAN 6

COLORADO: Marko Ilić; Keegan Rosenberry, Andreas Maxsø, Danny Wilson, Moïse Bombito; Cole Basset, Connor Ronan; Braian Galván (Luis Díaz 45’), Kevin Cabral (Calvin Harris 45’), Diego Rubio (Danny Leyva 73’); Rafael Navarro (Jonathan Lewis 88’) [Substitutes not used: Abraham Rodriguez, Lalas Abubakar, Sebastian Anderson, Sam Nicholson, Ralph Priso]

VANCOUVER: Yohei Takaoka; Mathías Laborda, Ranko Veselinović, Tristan Blackmon, Sam Adekugbe (Ryan Raposo 72’); Richie Laryea (Alessandro Schöpf 72’), Andrés Cubas, Ali Ahmed (Sebastian Berhalter 73’); Junior Hoilett (Simon Becher 65’), Ryan Gauld (Pedro Vite 52’); Brian White [Substitutes not used: Isaac Boehmer, Javain Brown, Levonte Johnson, Russell Teibert]




On his team’s performance:

“I have to be honest, I wasn’t that happy in the first half. I think it was a bit of a confusion thing. We had the chance to score, but we weren’t fluid when we were playing and, when the other team had the ball, we weren’t able to put pressure only because they weren’t able to be aggressive in a way that put us in trouble. I think even in the first half we weren’t good. Of course, we had a big chance with Richie to score the second goal in the counter attack, that would have probably closed the game. We decided to be a little bit more organized in the second half but to be honest, we didn’t do very well. So when the team doesn’t play very well it’s my fault to be honest, and probable I chose the wrong men today, chose the wrong approach to the game. I’m happy that we tied at the end, it became a kind of very open game. They could have scored, and we could have scored the third goal, and it was very confusing and it was everyone. So I didn’t like the team to be honest today, and you know when I say the team, I don’t want to put the burden not only on the players, but of course, I didn’t like also my performance too.”

On looking back at the seven-game away run:

“We said that we wanted to make more than one point per game. In this seven games, we made eleven points, so I think we did a good job. And now we need to win home. But these seven games have taken a toll today, probably one of the reasons why the team was a little bit disconnected, that we were extremely tired, even though I changed four players, I tried to put fresh legs and in the field. But there was a lot of disconnection, a lot of confusion, and we need to regroup early because Saturday is very important at home, it’s a must win game so we need to win in order to defend the playoff spots and maybe get in a better playoff spot.”


On the difference between the first and second half:

“I think its another case of us not coming out well in the second half. It’s two games in a row now where we start the second half on the back foot. They get a goal early and it changes the game. That’s something we need to address as a team in the locker room, because, you know, you’re not going to win a lot of games, not going to make a playoff run with that kind of reaction in the second half. So that’s something we have to address and I’m confident that the boys will hunker down, we’ll address it, we’ll look at it and be better for it on Saturday.”

On coping with the intense travel of the last few weeks:

“I mean, it is a lot of travel. My mom texted me asking if I was happy to be home the other day, and I was like ‘I don’t know, we’re leaving in another day and a half’ so it doesn’t really feel like any recovery, any time off. But it’s a grind, and it is what it is. You’re changing environments, changing altitude, temperatures, traveling all the time. You don’t get much of a rest and that’s the job, that’s the business, and I think overall we could be pretty content with the way that we handled it. Obviously there is some things that we could be disappointed with, things that we need to learn from, but I’m proud of the group in the way we grinded out these seven games on the road and we’re looking forward to being back home at BC Place.”



On the match:

“Yeah, mixed emotions. I think the first emotion is disappointment in that we have a 2-1 lead at home and we didn’t manage the game well enough, so there’s some good lessons to be learned there. But some real positives in the performance—fight, character, again, was really good. And that’s our seventh goal in four games, so we’re looking at goal threat, creating chances and there’s positives to take from the game, and we’ve got to focus on the positives with a game coming up again in three days.”

On Rapids midfielder Cole Bassett’s recent form:

“I think the first thing you look at is like, I think Cole has the DNA of a Rapids player. He’s committed. He’s selfless. He wants to give everything for this club, and that’s a wonderful starting point. And so today, he had to play a deeper role than he has in the other games and I thought he really grew into the game and his energy was there. And he’s always a goal threat. He’s always a goal threat. And so, I’m just pleased he’s getting confidence and he’s playing like a player that has confidence, is full of confidence and he’s scoring goals. For all the other little things, the selflessness, the commitment to the team, I mean, he’s played so many minutes here, and he’s a guy that we don’t think we can take off the field because of his commitment to the team and what he does. He’s working so hard for the team and that’s what we need. We need players that are committed to the group, committed to this club and putting in that level of work to help us get results.”


On the match:

“Poor first half again. Better second half, and I think we’re more exciting than we’ve been going forward. But set pieces, for how much we work on them, we shouldn’t be giving up two set piece goals.”

On Rapids forward Diego Rubio:

“Yeah, kind of what you said, a leader. I mean, that’s what he brings. He brings a different energy to the team. It’s kind of infectious and he’s one of those loud leaders that demands a lot from other people and we didn’t have that quite as much. You guys can probably hear from the stands how much he yells, how much he’s on the ref, just his influence on the game. And he’s a pest. He’s annoying to play against if you’re not on his team and he gets in a good position to score goals. As we all saw last year, he scored plenty of goals, and it’s sucked that he’s had so many injuries this year that haven’t been the same injury. Just, he comes back and something new happens. But it’s good for him to get his momentum back and get back into team and be dangerous because we need him to be scoring these goals at the end of the year, and hopefully, next year, he’s with us again. But right now, all he can do is what he’s doing on the field, and we love having him out there with us.”

Authored by: Michael McColl

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