First it was a losing run, then it became a winless run last week, now it’s officially an unbeaten run. It may only be two matches, but in a season that’s offered very little to cheer about, Vancouver Whitecaps fans will take any small positives they can get.
The ‘Caps secured their first win since May 25th, and their first in 12 matches across all competitions, after coming from behind to see off one of the teams that’s actually been worse than them this season, FC Cincinnati.
Goals late in each half, from Inbeom Hwang and Felipe Martins, saw the ‘Caps come away with a confidence boosting 2-1 victory, after falling behind to an early Allan Cruz goal. It wasn’t a pretty performances, but it was a gutsy one and right now getting the job done by any means necessary is all that really matters.
This one was set to be the real test of just how bad this Whitecaps team is this year. A loss to a struggling expansion team would have said it all. It was a game both teams would have fancied their chances of winning and one neither side wanted the indignity of losing and but by the end of it, only one turkey was dropped, but the quality lacking in both teams was very clear to see.
Marc Dos Santos went with Christmas tree formation again, leaving out Jon Erice for the third straight match and with Yordy Reyna at home nursing an ankle injury. With Lass Bangoura still deemed not to be ready to play, although he did train on Wednesday, and Lucas Venuto leaving the club, the ‘Caps attack was down to the bare bones. What there was left were all starting, with Joaquin Ardaiz leading the line and Fredy Montero and Theo Bair tucked in behind him.
Cincinnati had the first look on goal just 83 seconds in, with Justin Hoyte’s curler flying narrowly over.
It didn’t take long for the home side to find the early breakthrough they clearly were going for and it was Cincinnati’s Designed Player Cruz who fired them ahead. The ‘Caps failed to clear the danger in their box from an initial Maikel van der Werff cross. The ball bounced around, eventually falling to the Costa Rican, who made no mistake from six yards out.
— FC Cincinnati (@fccincinnati) August 4, 2019
After that both sides huffed, with very little puff, looking for the most part what they were – two teams struggling at the bottom of the standings.
Cincinnati were doing enough it appeared to take their narrow lead into half time, but then, just as they appeared to be in Cruz control, from nowhere, Vancouver found themselves level with three minutes of the half remaining with a missile strike.
A free kick was headed out of the box by former Whitecaps Kendall Waston, but only as far as Hwang, who rifled a low 25 yarder in through two the legs of two Cincinnati defenders, one of them Waston, and past their keeper. Horrible defending but the ‘Caps wouldn’t have cared about that.
Did someone say IN-💣
— Vancouver Whitecaps FC (@WhitecapsFC) August 4, 2019
Level at the half, Cincinnati came out all guns blazing to start the second, and Max Crepeau pulled off a fantastic save to deny Cruz just 17 seconds after the restart.
Crepeau was in action again and at full stretch three minutes before the hour mark as an Emmanuel Ledesma shot whipped past the left post.
The home side certainly had their tails up and Crepeau was sent scrambling back to his goal moments later from a long range dipper from Mathieu Deplange that crashed off the top of the bar.
But the ‘Caps held firm and started to have some looks at goal themselves midway through the half, with a Montero free kick zipping over and an Ali Adnan thunderbolt bringing out a great stop from Przemyslaw Tyton.
Darren Mattocks nearly had the opportunity to come back to haunt his former club when Crepeau parried a Frankie Amaya shot across goal in the 71st minute but it just eluded the Jamaican. He had another chance in front of goal a few minutes later but blasted over from an excellent position, which I’m sure shocked everyone watching in Vancouver.
The Whitecaps had snatched an unlikely late equaliser in the first half and they struck again late in the second to go ahead with six minutes remaining.
Russell Teibert got onto a nice ball from Adnan, hit the byeline, and cut it back for Felipe to sweep home his first of the season. A well worked goal and one which will hopefully give the little Brazilian some confidence after a tough year or so, perhaps unlocking the effective Felipe of old in the process.
The meg 👀 The finish 👏@FeliMartins8 has his first of the year!
— Vancouver Whitecaps FC (@WhitecapsFC) August 4, 2019
Cincinnati had to go for it now and they caused a few panicked moments in the box, including a Leonardo Bertone free kick that cannoned off the ‘Caps left post, but there was to be no breakthrough and Vancouver held on for a much needed win.
The relief and joy was clear to see at the final whistle, and although the playoffs still seem a forlorn hope barring a miraculous late winning run, and even then they need help, these matches are important for next season in terms of seeing which players have the appetite for a fight and which ones are already checked out and planning their next move.
We got some more answers tonight, but this was far from a performance that would have seen off many other teams across the league. Enjoy the moment, they’ve been fleeting this season, but the rebuild of the rebuild starts now. Let’s see who wants to be a part of it.
FINAL SCORE: FC Cincinnati 1 – 2 Vancouver Whitecaps
CINCINNATI: Przemyslaw Tyton; Justin Hoyte, Maikel van der Werff, Kendall Waston, Mathieu Deplagne; Allan Cruz (Frankie Amaya 67), Caleb Stanko (Leonardo Bertone 63), Emmanuel Ledesma (Kekuta Manneh 72), Victor Ulloa, Roland Lamah; Darren Mattocks [Subs Not Used: Jimmy Hague, Nick Hagglund, Alvas Powell, Rashawn Dally]
VANCOUVER: Maxime Crepeau; Jake Nerwinski, Erik Godoy, Derek Cornelius, Ali Adnan; Felipe Martins (Andy Rose 86), Inbeom Hwang, Russell Teibert; Theo Bair (Scott Sutter 74), Fredy Montero, Joaquin Ardaiz (Brett Levis 67) [Subs Not Used: Zac MacMath, Scott Sutter, Victor ‘PC’ Giro, Jon Erice, Michael Baldisimo]
Possession: CIN 58.5% – VAN 41.5%
Shots: CIN 20 – VAN 11
Shots on Goal: CIN 3 – VAN 5
Saves: CIN 3 – VAN 2
Fouls: CIN 9 – VAN 12
Offsides: CIN 3 – VAN 0
Corners: CIN 5 – VAN 4
MARC DOS SANTOS
On his reflections after the win:
“Well I tried to take everything from the month of July out. It hurt us mentally. Just before the Minnesota game, we got together and we believe in the core we have here. We believe that if we play as a team and stick together we can get results all the time. I thought the first 20 minutes were very difficult. Cincinnati came very well into the game and we were not able to cope with some situations and they were switching the point of attack. It created problems and they were up on the score, and deservedly so. Then we were able to mentally react and this is great, we were able to take a little bit more charge of the game and (Hwang) In-Beam gets a very good goal and then when we came back to halftime at 1-1, we had a belief that if we do things right, we would get other chances to win the game. Then the second goal was a very good goal, the runs from midfielders deep in was very important to create that … and after that since (Kendall) Waston came to the middle it became very direct, Kekuta (Manneh) one side and (Roland) Lamah the other, it created problems and that is why we brought in Andy Rose in to help with those areas with the long balls. Look, it was a tie game with a tough place with an incredible environment and a good club that is going to grow for sure in MLS and we overall deserved to win because of what we did on the field.”
On importance of getting the first goal before halftime:
“Well I think it started a little bit in Minnesota … that mental toughness and try to grind … right now, nobody from the outside is going to help us and unfortunately we are not going to get help from the outside and we have to stick together, close our locker room, fight together and that’s what we did again today.”
Thoughts on two goals from the midfield:
“When you’re a team, with a big T, you work together, you don’t really care where the goals come from. Of course you always wish to have many different players scoring and having an attack that is very very provocative going to goal, but when that doesn’t happen well other people have to come in a help and (Hwang) In-Beom with a great shot from the outside and then the run from Russell (Telbert) and Felipe are aggressive and I am happy for them.”
Thoughts on another strong Max Crepeau outing:
“I think when we speak about Max or that, I don’t like to highlight that. Max is doing his job and Max doesn’t need me to be here in front of the camera and saying well done. He doesn’t need that. He’s very strong mentally. He knows what he wants, he knows where he wants to get and I’m happy for him.”
On tonight’s match:
“I thought the guys have been working so hard, they’ve been working every single day trying to improve our game, trying to get better. It was another fight. I think the most important thing is every game we fight with everything we can for the fans, for this jersey, for this club. That’s what we did tonight. We went down 1-0, but especially in difficult moments when you don’t win a lot of games. We came from behind and we fought them to the end. This group deserves more than we get. We’re going to keep fighting to the end.”
On the midfield chemistry:
“I think (Hwang) In-Beom has been fantastic for us, especially at the position. He’s been playing the best all year long, I think because he has more freedom. He dictated the rhythm of the team. Rusty (Teibert) is Rusty. He is always fighting, he is always giving everything. I said it was 50% his goal, but I think it was 99% his goal and 1% for me. He put a great ball in. It means a lot, this goal for me. I dedicate it to all my family, because my wife knows how much I suffer all year long. I think it’s a great moment, especially for the team. I thank every single person that was behind me all year long. Hopefully, we keep going, we keep getting wins.”
On the upcoming match against Portland:
“As the coach said, we go game by game. We played well in Minnesota, tonight we didn’t start well. We went down, 1-0, but we keep fighting, we keep strong and then In-Beom scored a great goal and then in the end, Russell (Teibert) put in a great ball and then I score. But, it’s not about one person, it’s about every single one.”
On the match:
“Disappointing night. Disappointing result in a game that we could’ve all been better. I’m very, very disappointed.”
On if the finishing was lacking:
“Yeah, we created some opportunities, especially in the second half. Unfortunately, we couldn’t capitalize on it. The score speaks for itself. We should’ve been more efficient in the final third, (we) touched the post a couple of times. Disappointing.
On what the team needs to do to start converting on opportunities:
“We need to work, we need to come back to the training facility, keep working on that. As everybody knows, in the final third, there is not much space and time. Very difficult to create opportunities, so that is a positive, we have been creating quite a lot. Now, we need to be more efficient, we need to take our chances, maybe finish quicker. We tend to take a touch in the box when sometimes we should finish in one touch, so there is a couple of little details that we need to work on, but for sure the efficiency has been lacking recently.”
On how to address conceding goals prior to halftime:
“We 100% need to be sharper. We need to be more consistent. That’s the message I told the guys in the locker room … we are a little too naive at times. Conceding before halftime on the third ball on the set piece is very frustrating because I think that is a little moment where we switched off. We gave the time for the opponent to take a shot and they capitalized on that just before halftime. Again, the focus, the concentration needs to be more consistent over the course of the game.”
On if Allan Cruz exited the match because of injury:
“Yeah, he had a little something before halftime. I have to think about the rest of the game, we needed to make some changes. I had some ideas in the midfield. I think at some point we needed to keep a certain balance.”
On the team getting complacent after scoring:
“No, we continued to try to get to our opponent’s goal. They had a defensive block, played on the counter-attack and that’s how they hurt us.”
On hitting the crossbar in the second half:
“Well the ball came my way inside the penalty box. I didn’t think about it twice. The goalkeeper was able to get a hand on it and it hits the crossbar. Bad luck. I wasn’t able to capitalize.”
On facing in-state rival Columbus Crew next:
“We have to get excited for the match. We’ve had various games now where we lose and the most frustrating part is losing at home and seeing the fans that come see despite the recent results we’ve had. They leave with a sour taste.”
On the fan support at Nippert Stadium:
“For us, they’re an added motivation. They are the player number 12 for us. We weren’t able to back them up with a result, but I want to tell all the fans that come support us in the good times and the bad times that we are grateful for them. We will move forward.”
On the match:
“Disappointed, really. All the players are disappointed. Having scored the first goal, then getting back into the game, we pushed and pushed and just couldn’t find that goal that we needed. Unfortunately we gave away the second goal and that’s hard to take. We’re disappointed. We pushed and pushed and pushed and tried, and you know the least we should get a draw this game. If not, we should’ve won the game. Being one-nil up, we should see the game out, or score another. We should win these games.”
On the backline’s strong performance:
“Yeah I feel it was kind of strong. It’s just disappointing. We conceded two goals. That’s the disappointing thing, but on the whole, we thought we defended well. We started the attacks well and we gave a good platform moving forward. We started a good base that we can attack. So yeah, on the whole, I feel the defense has done okay, but disappointing that we conceded two goals.”
On conceding two goals after an early lead:
“It’s a big [disappointment], but at the end of the day we know that we scored once. We have to believe that we can go in and score again. In the second half, you can see we pushed and pushed, we never gave up. We tried to score again, and tonight just wasn’t meant to be, at times, to score a second goal. Just disappointing we didn’t score that second goal or even not concede. Now we’ll keep working hard. We’ll keep pushing hard and try and attack more, and try and create more chances, and we’ll try and put the ball in the back of the net and at the same time stop them from scoring.”
On his shot early in the game:
“The ball at that point just took a touch and, I thought I’d just hit it. Why not? It’s not often I get the opportunity to shoot. So I thought, the opportunity was there so I just thought I’d shoot and it was close. It was just disappointing it didn’t go in, but that’s foot one. Hopefully next time if I get the opportunity I can shoot and it’ll go in the back of the net next time.”