Montreal Impact set BC Place alight on Sunday evening as Thierry Henry’s side’s four play saw them grab all three points in a 4-2 victory over Vancouver Whitecaps, in a match that saw both teams finish the with ten men.
It was a fiery encounter that proved too much for the ‘Caps Designated Player Lucas Cavallini, who saw a red card for a second bookable offence in the 57th minute, then saw the red mist descend through the smoke inside the stadium to completely lose the plot in the aftermath.
Montreal’s Emanuel Maciel saw a straight red for a tackle on Cristian Dajome 15 minutes later, but goals from Orji Okwonkwo, Saphir Taider, Samuel Piette, and Rommell Quioto had already seen the visitors home and dry by that point. Theo Bair and a Rudy Camacho own goal bookended the Impact’s efforts in the six-goal encounter.
Marc Dos Santos went with an unchanged line-up from the side that had seen off Toronto FC the weekend before. The burning question was whether that victory had seen the Whitecaps turn a corner or was it all smoke and mirrors? Dos Santos had said after that victory that there was still a lot of improvement needed. That was very evident against Montreal.
The match started in much the same way as that TFC game, with Montreal dominating the early possession and Vancouver happy to let them do so. The danger from the Whitecaps was then always going to be hitting the Impact on the quick counter and that’s exactly what they did seven minutes in when David Milinkovic sprang Bair with a fantastic through ball.
The ‘Caps striker still had a lot of work to do, but he finished with aplomb to the far post, with Impact keeper Clement Diop needing to do much more as the shot came in.
— Vancouver Whitecaps FC (@WhitecapsFC) September 14, 2020
Maybe that Toronto FC game wasn’t the outlier. Or maybe it was.
Milinkovic had a great chance to double the ‘Caps lead in the 13th minute when the ball came to him in acres of space at the of the box, but the Frenchman’s fierce shot was turned away by Diop and what a difference maker that save proved to be.
From potentially being two goals to the good, the Whitecaps found themselves back on level terms just two minutes later when Quioto was played in and raced in on goal, seeing off the challenge of Derek Cornelius. His shot got past Thomas Hasal at his near post, but crashed off the back one, eventually falling into the path of Okwonkwo, who had the easy tap in to the empty net.
The game was open, with play going back and forth, and the ‘Caps counter nearly paid off again in the 24th minute when a strong tackle from Michael Baldisimo saw the homegrown midfielder win the ball inside Vancouver’s half, turn beautifully, and play the ball to Cavallini.
The ‘Caps striker turned well himself and roared into the Impact half but his attempt to try and play in Bair was the wrong decision with Milinkovic wide open further to his left. Cavallini clearly knew it and was frustrated, letting it show with a stupid tussle with Montreal’s Luis Binks that saw Vancouver’s DP put his arm around the Englishman’s neck. It resulted in a booking, and one that was to prove very costly later in the game.
Montreal had the ball in Vancouver’s net in the 39th minute when Taider headed home but was ruled offside, but the Impact got the chance to go ahead a few minutes later when Hasal brought down Quioto in the box and the referee pointed to the spot.
It was perfect play from the Honduran striker, who allowed Hasal to clatter in to him as he took the ball away from the young ‘Caps keeper. Taider stepped up to take the penalty and this time he did get his name on the scoresheet and Montreal headed into the half with a 2-1 lead.
Vancouver were still very much in the match but the wheels started to come off soon after the restart.
Montreal made it 3-1 in the 51st minute when Piette finished off a nice move and tucked away a Taider ball into the box, and then Vancouver’s night went from bad to worse when Cavallini picked up his second yellow card of the evening six minutes later.
A great long ball forward from Russell Teibert saw sub Fredy Montero take a poor first touch and a clunky second one, but he managed to just about play in Cavallini as Diop raced out to try and smother the ball. The Impact keeper got there first and in an act of idiocy, the ‘Caps DP went in with a trailing foot, catching the keeper on the head and getting his second booking.
The red card that followed was soon joined by some red mist, as Cavallini lost it, looking to fight with Binks, who had managed to get under his skin for the whole game, and having to be held back by teammates before finally being escorted off the pitch, petulantly knocking a ball off its stand on his way up the tunnel.
It’s not exactly been a stellar start for the Canadian international here in Vancouver.
Our DP has as as many reds as goals and more more missed pks. Not exactly earning his pay. But really, who has?
— Nazz Catania (@SeeTheeRise) September 14, 2020
Montreal soon utilised their man advantage and increased their lead on the hour mark when Quioto ghosted into to tuck away a lovely Piette ball into the box.
Three goals down, a man down, then the Whitecaps started to show some fight and enjoyed their best play over the final half hour.
The deficit was reduced to two again in the 66th minute when Rudy Camacho turned a Cristian Gutierrez cross into his own net, and the Whitecaps had some chances to score more in the closing minutes, but were unable to convert any of them.
Montreal’s win keeps their hopes of claiming a place in this year’s Canadian Championship final alive. For Vancouver, it’s back to the drawing board. Again.
It’s a board that’s had so much drawing on it this year that it surely must look like a child has gone wild with a crayon. If the Whitecaps are going to do anything for the rest of this season they’ll certainly need to be cutting out the schoolboy errors defensively.
At least they get to being back in the saddle quickly, with a rematch with the Impact on Wednesday evening. The reaction of the players will be very telling as to whether they have the fight and passion to take this team onto the next gruelling phase of the MLS season.
FINAL SCORE: Vancouver Whitecaps 2 – 4 Montreal Impact
VANCOUVER: Thomas Hasal; Érik Godoy (Jake Nerwinski 55), Andy Rose, Derek Cornelius, Ali Adnan (Cristián Gutiérrez 55); Leonard Owusu (Cristian Dájome 55), Michael Baldisimo, Russell Teibert; David Milinković (Yordy Reyna 73); Theo Bair (Fredy Montero 55), Lucas Cavallini [Substitutes not used: Bryan Meredith, Ranko Veselinović, Ryan Raposo, Patrick Metcalfe]
MONTREAL: Clément Diop; Zachary Brault-Guillard, Rudy Camacho, Luis Binks, Jukka Raitala; Victor Wanyama, Emanuel Maciel; Samuel Piette, Saphir Taider, Orji Okwonkwo (Shamit Shome 90); Rommell Quioto (Lassi Lappalainen 86) [Substitutes not used: Evan Bush, Rod Fanni, Bojan, Amar Sejdic, Joel Waterman, Karifa Yao, Jorge Corrales]
Possession: VAN 47.6% – MTL 52.4%
Shots: VAN 13 – MTL 18
Shots on Goal: VAN 6 – MTL 7
Saves: VAN 3 – MTL 4
Fouls: VAN 18 – MTL 16
Offsides: VAN 1 – MTL 1
Corners: VAN 6 – MTL 4
MARC DOS SANTOS
On the game as a whole:
“To come here and talk with you right after the game without seeing some of the moments is hard, but what I’ll say is that we got the first goal, then there’s a great chance to do the 2-0. We don’t score, Diop makes a good, very good save, and then when they tied the game in the play with Quioto and Okwonkwo, we became unstable, we struggled and then that penalty shot that just before the half, it hurt the team. It was tough for us to come back unfortunately, but then I would say that the positive is the way that the four guys came in and brought a lot of energy and belief and then we do we tried to push. When we pushed and made the 4-2 and then there’s a great chance at minute 88 to make the 4-3 and to still have the game on but unfortunately overall Montreal deserve the win today.”
On the defensive problems today:
“I don’t want to go through the details because I didn’t watch the goals yet, but from the bench, it looked very passive, so very disappointing and I have to watch the plays again to give you more details of what I think. But it looks, it looked easy from the bench.”
On the different combinations at the back:
“Yes, it’s frustrating, but we have to find the right solution, as soon as possible because games are going to be coming very fast and we won’t have time to rest or train. We have to find the right combinations and we need everybody because the amount of games that are coming towards us are going make us stretch and make sure we find the right combinations. But that right combination cannot play every night because of the way the schedule is going to be. So what we need is just that everybody that’s called in being ready to go, he needs to bring his best game.”
On Lucas Cavallini’s reaction:
“We’re going to talk because he wasn’t able to take his foot out on the up. So, is it a yellow card? Yes. So it’s a second yellow card. It’s right from the ref that had a very hard night like us, we had a hard night, the ref too, had a very hard night. But that decision of the second yellow on Cava is the right one, because he wasn’t able to take his foot off. But then we would expect Cava to be better in the reaction after, because what Cava needs to understand it’s, it’s not this game. It’s the other games and right now with the reaction after, we have to see what could happen unfortunately because he has to be able to control those moments because sometimes things don’t go your way, and sometimes it’s hard nights, and sometimes we need to know how to control our frustrations and hopefully it’s going to be a huge learning process for him.”
On his goal:
“It felt great. I’ve been wanting to play a lot and to finally get one felt amazing.”
On the result:
“Frustrating one. A lot happened, I’ll have to rewatch it and see what happened. Frustrating is the word I would use.”
On keeping focus during eventful match:
“It wasn’t too difficult today. I think I just had to focus on my job and make sure that I did it for the team. I think I probably could have done a little bit more defensively and I’ll be focused on that for the next game.”
On bouncing back on Wednesday:
“I think that we just have to come together and focus on the next game, not worry too much about it, focus on our mistakes, and fix them for the next game and go harder next time.”
On showing fight after red card:
“That part is frustrating for sure. Because you can’t come off a win like last week and then all of a sudden just expect for it to happen again. The beginning of the game I thought we were very good and obviously Theo [Bair] takes his goal really, it was a great ball by David [Milinkovic], and we knew that was going to be a real outlet for us. And then to concede quickly after that, and then the timing of the second goal, obviously hurts us going into halftime because they had been quite dominant with the ball, so you know heads are a little bit down. And what was frustrating was it took us until really going a man down, like you said, and those substitutions to come on to really bring some attacking impetus and fight. And you have to give a lot of credit to all those guys [Cristián] Gutiérrez, Jake [Nerwinski], Yordy Reyna, Fredy [Montero], [Cristian] Dájome, they came in and really gave us something that up until that point we hadn’t shown enough of. You know the ability to keep the ball in the opposition half, I thought that was a real issue for us in the first half. There were moments where we’re able to beat their initial press and then the decision making wasn’t good enough. So without a doubt it’s a frustrating night on a lot of different levels.”
If it felt like there were big gaps between the midfield and the defence:
“It did at times for sure. With a player of [Romell] Quioto’s quality and pace, I think he showed on the first goal, and his run for the second goal, you have to give something up and I think in those moments you have to be willing to drop your lines and limit the space in behind. That was a big part of our game plan and obviously we didn’t execute it well enough. But if you’re going to do that then all the lines need to drop together, and it takes a lot of work and a lot of running, and especially when players have real quality, [Saphir] Taider, to find those spaces in behind, and look they have real quality on the pitch. So those are moments in the game that you’re right, we absolutely need to look at, and make sure we rectify for Wednesday because that’s going to come quick and obviously you know we know exactly what they’re all about. And those two players in particular we need to really try and limit.”
On goals conceded this season:
“Look there’s a lot of factors, we don’t want to suddenly become a group that makes excuses. Without a doubt, you’re right. We’ve conceded too many goals. I think it’s all connected in how we play and obviously, it actually really starts with how well we’re able to keep possession of the ball, because the amount of crosses that we have to deal with is too many. At times we don’t get enough pressure on the ball, and a lot of that comes from turnovers, from just our ability to play simple football, to keep the ball I think in moments, especially last week against Toronto and probably in the second half today we showed a real ability to do that, and obviously that’s the best way to defend is when you have possession of the ball. And so far, you know that that’s a real area we need to continue to grow and grow quickly.”
On air quality:
“You know it’s not something we’ve spoken about. Coming out for warm- ups, it was certainly something we’ve noticed and obviously the last two or three days I think everybody in the city has noticed. For sure it isn’t enjoyable, it’s not fun, it’s just not nice at all. So not an excuse, without a doubt, and not something as a group we’ve really discussed, obviously we’re playing indoors. So no I don’t want to point to that as being any sort of factor.”
“We reacted great. After a tough start, we started to apply our structure, but more importantly, we scored goals. It became a bit of a weird game in the last 20 minutes, but it isn’t easy to come here and do what we’ve done, so we’re happy with it. We scored four away goals, but it will be a different game on Wednesday.”
“Samuel has been comfortable in that role for a while now. He finds himself in good situations. I knew it was going to come sooner or later.”
“It feels good to score my first MLS goal in a winning situation. It was a good night for me, but mostly for the team. In a more offensive role, you have to try to contribute to the score sheet. It’s a role in which I’m more comfortable and with the quality of the players around me, it’s easy to shine.”
“We controlled the game. We created many chances. We deserved this result. In the next game, we will try to attack to win and to avoid conceding goals.”