Report and Reaction: Over and out – home loss to NYCFC officially ends Vancouver Whitecaps’ playoff hopes

Report and Reaction: Over and out – home loss to NYCFC officially ends Vancouver Whitecaps’ playoff hopes

A difficult week of travel didn’t end well at home for Vancouver Whitecaps as the well adjusted visitors of New York City FC came away with a 3-1 victory at BC Place on Saturday evening, officially ending the Whitecaps’ postseason hopes that had unofficially been over a long time ago.

Goals from Heber, birthday boy Gary Mackay-Steven, and Alexandru Mitrita gave the New Yorkers all three points, while Yordy Reyna responded with his seventh of the season to give the ‘Caps some hope at 2-0 down, but in the end they fell far shot of getting the win they needed to keep that nearly extinguished playoff flame burning for just one more week.

The ‘Caps seemed like they were settling in the opening minutes but a poor giveaway by Jon Erice was pounced upon by Tony Rocha, who played the ball to Mitrita to set up Heber to fire home the opening goal past Max Crepeau in the 10th minute, with a delightful low curler off the outside of his foot.

The visitors doubled their lead 16 minutes later when Mackay-Steven, who had come on for the injured Heber, took advantage of a spilled save by Crepeau to have the ball bounce off him and into the net for his first MLS goal.

It looked as though Vancouver would have a chance to pull within one around the half hour mark when Sean Johnson took down Tosaint Ricketts leading to the referee to point to the spot.

The call would not stand, however, as VAR called down to have the play reviewed and it was eventually reversed leading to ejections for Whitecaps goalkeeping coach Youssef Dahha and assistant coach Vanni Sartini as things got heated on the touchline between the ‘Caps bench and officials after the replay was shown on the big screen.

Vancouver tested Sean Johnson for the first time six minutes into the second half as Reyna found space in the box but couldn’t make enough room to get the ball by Johnson.

There were a couple of chances just after the hour mark with Johnson being forced into batting away attempts by Inbeom Hwang and Fredy Montero.

A little hope was restored for the ‘Caps in the 64th minute when Reyna took a pass from Ricketts and volleyed a shot into the far corner past Johnson with a fantastic finish.

That hope was dashed eight minutes later when Mitrita converted a curling free kick at the near post catching Crepeau cheating in the middle of the net. Marc Dos Santos commented after the match that he felt the ‘Caps keeper didn’t have enough men in the wall, but it was some stunning placement from the Romanian.

While they had their chances, the ‘Caps couldn’t recover from the third goal, dropping yet another result at home, their sixth defeat in 14 matches at BC Place, officially eliminating them from playoff contention in the process.

Vancouver are now cast adrift at the bottom of the Western Conference, averaging less than a point a game and pretty much two goals a match. The struggling side will be off for the international break before returning to BC Place in two weeks to take on the Houston Dynamo.

The main positive to take from this one being that least the season is now nearly over. Only four more games to go!

FINAL SCORE: Vancouver Whitecaps 1 – 3 New York City FC

ATT: 17,512

VANCOUVER: Maxime Crépeau; Jake Nerwinski (Scott Sutter 16), Doneil Henry, Andy Rose, Ali Adnan; Inbeom Hwang (Theo Bair 83), Jon Erice ( Michaell Chirinos 46), Russell Teibert; Fredy Montero, Yordy Reyna; Tosaint Ricketts [Substitutes not used: Zac MacMath, Brett Levis, Lass Bangoura, Derek Cornelius]

NEW YORK: Sean Johnson; Anton Tinnerholm, Maxime Chanot, Alexander Callens, Ben Sweat; Maximiliano Moralez (Justin Haak 90+3), Tony Rocha, Keaton Parks; Héber (Gary Mackay-Steven 21), Valentín Castellanos (Sebastien Ibeagha 70), Alexandru Mitrita [Substitutes not used: Brad Stuver, Juan Torres, Jesús Medina, Eric Miller]

Possession: VAN 42.5% – NYC 57.5%
Shots: VAN 14 – NYC 12
Shots on Goal: VAN 6 – NYC 5
Saves: VAN 2 – NYC 5
Fouls: VAN 13 – NYC 12
Offsides: VAN 5 – NYC 1
Corners: VAN 5 – NYC 2




Thoughts on video review:

“That’s exactly what I don’t want to talk about. You’re doing your job. I have three kids, a wife, I want to take them to Disney one day so no, I’m not talking about VAR any more.”

Thoughts on the game:

“We never looked like a team. We arrived after [back in Vancouver] after NYCFC, so the travel was difficult for us, but the loss was not related to fatigue at all, because we started the first 10 minutes well. There’s good tempo in our game, there’s good dynamics. Unfortunately, what I told the players is their key is a story a little bit of the season where there’s key moments that just cut our legs. First ten minutes were good then we lose a ball in transition against us, 1-0, and then we chase. Out of nothing 2-0 and then comes the call. It’s his call. At half time, we just said in the locker room if we go into the second half there’s a belief that we can at least tie the game and I think the mentality. the approach, our guys went at it, tried, created, scored, and then let me talk bad about Max today [and] and the third goal … Max knows what I’m going to say, he knows how much I appreciate him and how much he’s given to the team. But in that third goal, we felt that there was a man lacking in the wall and the ball went through; a goal that we can’t concede in a moment that there’s a lot of belief in the team, and then we concede at that moment where there’s a belief in the team that third one and it becomes difficult.”

On Erice substitution:

“The reason is we felt at 2-0 down we had to take a little more risk so we went from the 4-3-3 to a 4-2-3-1 where we brought Michaell in. So, an attacking player for a defensive midfielder. And we know that probably with the course of the game, Jon would probably get a little bit tired because of the amount of ground and what he covered against Montreal, plus the trip and he’s not 18-years-old right now, so, because of that we felt that it was a sub that we would take a little bit more risk, go at the opponent and that’s why we subbed him.”

On the penalty result:

“Because of the way we came out in the second half that penalty would give us the momentum even more because if you go back and watch the first 20 minutes of the second half we were a team that went at them. We tried and we created and there’s chances that were just a little bit unlucky. In the first half the cross from Scott [Sutter], it goes between the legs of Tos [Tosaint Ricketts] and that could have been a goal. When Michaell cut inside he has all the second post open, it goes wide. So, we have chances, so for sure, that that goal in that moment would have been very important, so that’s why I don’t want to talk about that play because it’s a play that I really feel would have made a difference.”


On team effort in the last three games:

“San Jose, we got popped. I don’t know what it was but when you look across the board … this was not what we are. We went to Montreal, and I thought we played really well and we didn’t get anything out of it. I thought today again, we did enough to get a result, even a tie. That’s the most frustrating thing about football. Sometimes it can be really cruel, sometimes decisions impact games. [There’s] a lot of stuff that goes into a football match that’s out of our control, but what’s in our control is that we bring our effort and bring the right mentality every day.”

On mentality in the second half:

“We never put our heads down once in this game. We never thought that this game was over because of how good we came out flying. It’s really hard when you go down 2-0 to keep playing, but even at 2-0, the game was so wide open … I think on a better day, we’re clinical.”

On Reyna:

“I think Jordy has been outstanding for this team especially in the last 7 to 10 games … You see effort, you see his momentum, you see his work rate … he shows you what kind of a player [he] is. Salute to him, he’s been fantastic for us.

On Dos Santos and the team’s rebuilding process:

“I salute Marc, he puts in major days, major hours … it’s never going to be easy when you make this [many] changes within a season … Trust Marc, give it time. I feel sorry for the fans, yes, they want it now, of course. But trust the process with us because the guys really want it and the guys want to make a difference here.”



On the game:

“It was very important for us. When I say we have to focus in the next game, that is true. For me the most important thing is the next game and right now that’s New England. The most important thing is to get three points again and maybe we have some problems in the second half because we didn’t defend compact but we were able to score three goals and we could score more goals. It’s very important because it’s the fourth game in a row we won and when that happens in the last seven games it’s very important because we will try to finish in the first position, if not in the second because I know how important it is, especially this year, for the playoffs because it’s important to play at home because it’s a knockout game. They [the players] deserved that because they fight everything day and I’m happy for them, for the club, for the supporters. It is special for us in this moment because the feeling is much better but we have to improve. I’m happy but we have to improve.”

On response to goal:

“I’m happy but my job is to convince them how important the next game is. And the next game was Vancouver and you make a big mistake if you are thinking about the table. For me, it’s easy to prepare for one game against Red Bull or Atlanta or against these kinds of teams. You have to be focused in Vancouver, in Cincinnati, these kind of games is like a trap. If you are not ready to fight every single war, you are in trouble 100 percent. But this is my job, I am happy because they respond when we had some problems, I’m happy because look at the difference in the last 10 minutes for example, we take the ball and pass the ball. That didn’t happen for example against Colorado. I remember we had many problems and that means we play much better and this team is getting better.”

On Heber’s injury:

“He has discomfort in the quadriceps. I don’t know, we have to check it out in New York. We have time, maybe tomorrow the doctor calls me and I don’t know what will happen. But when that happens in the 12th minute, I don’t know. But maybe we will miss this player for one month, I don’t know.”


On scoring on his birthday:

“I think it’s first [time he’s scored on his birthday] so it’s nice to get off the mark, extra special it’s my birthday but the main thing is getting the three points and I thought the boys done really well today so it’s a good victory again.”

On getting subbed in early:

“Yeah, it was unfortunate. Heber scored a great goal and he’s been on fire recently, so hopefully it’s nothing serious for him and he’s back for the next game because he’s been a big player for us lately. But yeah, you don’t have much time to think about it, you just have to get stripped and go on. But you’re always ready when you’re on the bench and I was happy to get on and play my part today and still feel there is a lot more to come and still feel a little bit rusty in a lot of ways, but definitely the goal helps and I can kick on.”

On reaching full potential:

“I’ve not been happy with myself to be honest and I keep working hard on the training ground and today it was nice to get off the mark and hopefully it can kick start and I can show my true level.”

Authored by: Steve Pandher

AFTN Soccer Show co-host and Senior Writer

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