It was an entertaining, end to end affair at BC Place on Saturday afternoon, as Vancouver Whitecaps put some of their recent home woes behind them to come away with a 2-1 win over Real Salt Lake.
A spectacular Gershon Koffie shot had given the ‘Caps a first half lead before an equally spectacular Javier Morales free kick brought RSL level on the stroke of half time.
It was up to the tiny terror, Cristian Techera, to nip in for the winning goal with just 11 minutes remaining to set Vancouver up nicely for their forthcoming five game stretch on the road.
Here’s our match report and full postgame reaction from both locker rooms. Unbeaten on the new BC Place pitch!
REPORT (by Steve Pandher)
The first part of the match saw both teams getting used to the new surface at BC Place with the first chance coming just after ten minutes when Pedro Morales forced Nick Rimando into a diving stop on a shot that was heading inside the post.
Vancouver squandered two clear chances to open the scoring in the space of four minutes when first an unmarked Cristian Techera fired wildly over in the 20th minute, after being set up by Mauro Rosales, and then Octavio Rivero crossed the ball right to an open Gershon Koffie who hit the bar from inside twelve yards.
The Ghanaian midfielder would make up for his miss in the 36th minute with an unstoppable strike into the top corner. After stripping Joao Plata of the ball, Koffie took a touch and blasted a shot from 25 yards out past a diving Rimando to give Vancouver the lead.
With less than five minutes to go in the half, Kendall Waston had an opportunity to double the lead when his header, off a Morales free kick, sailed just over the bar.
The inability to convert that chance would prove costly and Real Salt Lake evened the match when Javier Morales placed a 25 yard free kick with power into the top corner past a helpless Ousted and a poorly set up wall.
Pa Modou Kah had a chance to restore the ‘Caps lead before the break, but his header was saved on the line by Rimando and the teams went in all square.
Ten minutes after the break Morales almost give RSL lead when he got free inside the box but Kah was able to get in the way at the last moment to block the shot. As the hour mark it was the Caps who were denied as Rivero was stopped by Rimando after being sent in one on one by Laba.
Four minutes later the Whitecaps were scrambling to keep the ball out of the net after Ousted punched a Vasquez goalbound header off the line.
A five minute span between the 71st and 76th minute saw the Whitecaps dominating the visitors with a total of eight corners attempted but only one blocked Morales chance coming from it.
Just three minutes later the Whitecaps would capitalize on a RSL mistake allowing Christian Techera to score his first in MLS. Matias Laba crossed the ball to Rivero who was able to head the ball into the six yard area. At this point Vasquez chested the ball to Rimando who was not ready for it. Techera nipped in and had his first attempt stopped by Rimando. The pint sized winger followed up on the loose ball and deposited into the open net for the 2-1 lead and what proved to be the winning goal.
The remainder of the match saw the Caps keep RSL at bay except in the final moments when Alvaro Saborio’s shot from six yards out went into the side netting.
The win over RSL ended Vancouver’s mini two game losing streak and they end the month of May with a two wins, two losses and a draw. It also improved their home record to 4-1-3 taking advantage of the last match BC Place until July 12th.
While that match is far away the next week sees Vancouver traveling to the East to take on derby rivals Montreal Impact mid-week before returning to Southern California next Saturday to play the LA Galaxy.
FINAL SCORE: Vancouver Whitecaps 2 – 1 Real Salt Lake
ATT: 21,000 (sell out)
VANCOUVER: David Ousted; Steven Beitashour, Kendall Waston, Pa-Modou Kah, Jordan Harvey; Matías Laba, Gershon Koffie; Cristian Techera(Darren Mattocks 86), Pedro Morales(Russell Teibert 90+3), Mauro Rosales(Kekuta Manneh 69); Octavio Rivero [Subs Not Used: Paolo Tornaghi, Nicolás Mezquida, Tim Parker, Robert Earnshaw]
SALT LAKE: Nick Rimando; Elias Vasquez, Justen Glad, Aaron Maund, Abdoulie Mansally; Kyle Beckerman, John Stertzer(Luis Gil 81), Javier Morales; Joao Plata (Olmes Garcia 70), Sebastian Jaime(Alvaro Saborio 84), Devon Sandoval [Subs Not Used: Lalo Fernandez, Tony Beltran, Wellington Paeckart, Luke Mullholland]
On a great win before a long road trip:
“Very important. I was dreading coming in here and saying to you guys ‘Oh, we played really well, but we didn’t win.’ That’s the frustration I felt after 45 minutes because I thought we were absolutely excellent in the first 45 minutes without scoring more than one goal. And the dangerous off-set plays and set pieces, we were giving up one or two silly free kicks. If you give Rosales an opportunity, he scores. So I was disappointed, but pleased. But it was an important win.”
On being some of the best play this season:
“It is. Whether we can score enough goals to win the games has been the big question. As I said to the guys in there today, ‘Well-played. But, I’m sick of saying well-played, but we’re not winning. Let’s go out and challenge.’ After the game, it was nice, because I said the group can go to a very special place if they really believe they can and want to. And today I found out a lot about them. It was pleasing for them. It was an important win.”
On Cristian Techera and what he brings to the team:
“All of my players have different attributes. He brings energy about him. He’s small, he’s dynamic, and he scores goals. If you look at his record prior to when he came here, he scored goals. And that’s one thing we need our wide players to do, if we’re going to play the shape that we play. It wasn’t the prettiest of goals, he’s scored many better goals than that but we’ll take it. But, it’s not just him. Mauro and Kekuta [Manneh], when he came on, were excellent as well, so he’s different to what we have.”
On David Ousted’s big save and how it influenced the match:
“He seemed to be very happy with that afterwards, didn’t he? You know, calling the crowd, putting his arms up, which was great. Key moments, fine lines, this game. As we talk about every week, and our fine line today was David produced a great save. He’s in the team to do that, so when he does that, we’ll pat him on the back as well. Then obviously the forward players took the goals.”
Thought’s on the newly surfaced turf:
“Great. Good. I don’t use excuses. It’s the same for both teams. Our advantage is the 12th man out there, these fans. Brilliant, absolutely brilliant. Real Salt Lake are a good team, they have good players. After a long road trip for them, well, three games in a week, you know they are going to have a period of play. When they did, the fans got us through that as well and we kicked on again, which was a pleasing thing. We were looking very strong at the end, so it was fine.”
Thoughts on Gershon Koffie:
“He can do it. I keep saying to him every week, he can do it. Gershon has shown on his day he can arguably be one of the best midfield players in the league, without a doubt. I gripe with him, and it is a gripe. His potential is massive. He’s got to fulfill his potential with my help and my coaches’ help and he’s pushing himself, day in and day out. Because, what I don’t want is him to play well one game and not so well for two or three games. It’s about playing well. Kyle Beckerman, perfect example. Plays well every game. Gershon can do that and challenge him. Russell [Teibert] wasn’t quite ready today and he’s been excellent for me. And Matias [Laba] is Matias. Gershon can score goals. He was a beauty today, really was.”
On the combination of Mauro Rosales, Pedro Morales, Cristian Techera, and Octavio Rivero:
“I think in certain games, in certain halves of football, we’ve played very well. Sometimes we go with pace out wide. Cristian brings us the pace element. Mauro brings us the brain. I thought Mauro was excellent again. Different games require different things. When we go on the road, it’s going to be different. We have a tough stretch now of five games. So we’ll pick and choose who we use and when we use them. But the boys performed today. I’m leaving good players out of this squad, I really am. Sometimes people say, ‘Well why you do you keep changing the line-ups’ and things like that. The energy levels have to be high. Salt Lake did it today if you look at the bench with Tony Beltran, Luke Mulholland, Luis Gil, and Alvaro Saborio. They left their good players out. They play every week for them, but three games in a week is hard for any player. It will be what it is.”
Thoughts on his goal:
“I just read what [Nick Rimando] was going to do. That he was going to turn outside to the right side because there were a lot of guys inside so he could not go inside. So I just followed up and had a shot.”
Thoughts on missed chance earlier in the match:
“I was at the right spot and should have buried that one. But fortunately, I did what I could and I got rewarded with the second one.”
On whether he has practiced on his finishing:
“Yes, we have been putting in a lot of work on that. But even the strikers who score every single game, they miss some chances that are expected. You just have to keep working on your finish.”
On his 100th regular season start:
“It is special for the whole team and it is very special to me.”
On importance of this win:
“It’s always good to win. We are not going to be here for a while. The win was very important for us and it gives us motivation for the next game.”
Thoughts on the match:
“I think it was a game that we may have complicated a little bit for ourselves after the first half. But we came out in the second half and made it happen.”
On his first MLS goal and shoe celebration:
“It’s good. Anytime a player scores a goal it gives you confidence going forward and it settles you down and makes you look forward to the next one. I was telling the guys in the locker room that the ball that was pretty high up in the air and the Real Salt Lake goalkeeper is not the tallest so it made sense that the defender would be trying to chest it back. I just recognized that and was able to capitalize on the opportunity. I told my family I would score a goal and send them my shoes.”
Thoughts on playing in front of Whitecaps FC fans and on the new turf:
“Fans have been great from the get-go. It’s always nice to come into a full stadium with passionate support. The turf was nice. It looks really good. It’s always nice to play at BC Place especially with the new turf.”
On whether he feels more comfortable now:
“It’s been great. Especially with a few Latino players here. It helped me settle in a lot quicker. The support from the club has made that transition a lot smoother. Anytime you go anywhere as a player, there is always a bit of a transition and settling-in phase and I am thankful it has gone relatively smoothly.”
REAL SALT LAKE
Thoughts on the game-winning goal:
“At that junction of the game, it’s ‘boom’ and get it out. We talk about it all the time. It’s a learning experience but I think Nick Rimando had a very good game.”
On whether the sun was a factor on the game-winning goal:
“I don’t know, I haven’t talked to Nick Rimando about what happened. It should be a simple play. Just ‘boom’ and get it out. I know Elias Vasquez is very comfortable back there on the ball. Sometimes, it doesn’t have to be pretty, it just has to be effective so we can walk out of here with the result.”
On the changes in the lineup:
“This is our seventh game this month. Three games in eight days isn’t easy. Credit to our players for sticking it out. Credit to players like Javier Morales and Kyle Beckerman. These guys are coming back from injury. Kyle has played three games of 90 minutes. These guys are warriors. It’s good to give them as many extended minutes as possible with Sebastian Jaime and Joao Plata because we need to work them in back to full fitness. It’s not easy to go on the road twice, and three games in eight days. We hung in there, we did a good job and we should’ve had the result for sure.”
On Justen Glad’s debut performance:
“Very good. I thought he was very good. It’s not an easy task to deal with Whitecaps FC wingers. They’re technical, they have speed. I thought he did a great job.”
On the upcoming home schedule:
“It’s been hard for us to get in rhythm. It’s one match away, then one at home. You can use these home games to really get on a streak. To get going, we’re going to have to do that.”
On their recent performance:
“I don’t think we struggled tonight. We didn’t get the result but you look at everything and I think we played a very good game. Same thing in LA. We were all over them for long stretches of time, but we’re doing things to shoot ourselves on the foot. But if we don’t give up penalty kicks, we don’t give up set-play goals, and we don’t give up red cards, we’re a pretty good team. But if you gift goals, it’s hard to get results.”
On his debut performance:
“I think it went well. Unfortunately, we didn’t win but I think as far as experience goes, I think it was a good game. We had to grind it out at the end. That’s how defence is and that’s what it comes down to. Coming from an experience standpoint, it’s a huge step.”
On transitioning from the USL to the MLS:
“Obviously, everyone’s a little stronger, a little faster. You just have to play a little quicker. The nerves definitely came in the first half and they played a part. But in the second half, it was a lot easier. It’s a fitness game. Coming in, I tired more quickly. For example last week, at the end of the USL game, I wasn’t tired. At the end of this game, I’m a lot more tired. It’s a tough transition but helpful to the USL side to have this experience. Obviously, there are things to work on. There’s always room for improvement. I’m alright with it.”
On the FIFA 2015 Women’s World Cup being played on the new turf:
“It should be fine. It’s a really nice stadium. It’s a nice set-up they have up here. I think they’ll enjoy it.”
Thoughts on the match:
“They scored more than us. I thought we did enough to at least tie that game but we figured out a way to lose it.”
On the Cristian Techera goal:
“That comes down to language barriers. Elias Vasquez wanted to do one thing, and I was saying something else. Obviously, you saw the result of what happened. That’s us figuring a way not to win the game. We have to figure out a way to reverse that this year. It was a mistake and we’ve had a lot of those this year. We just have to move forward and learn from them and keep grinding out and get results.”
On what they can take away from the match:
“The good thing we got out of this is we got a lot of guys some good minutes. A lot of guys got some rest. I don’t think any of that had to do anything with the result. We had chances where we could’ve scored. At the end of the day, they scored more than us and put away their chances.”
On the team’s early season struggles:
“It’s one that we just need to go with. It’s definitely unusual compared to what we’re used to. A lot of changes but we knew it was going to be different from the beginning and it’s still relatively early. We have to start getting some points and grinding it out. It’s not going to be pretty at times but if it’s ugly, it’s ugly. If it’s ugly but we grind out some points, it’s fine with me. We have to find who we are and keep moving forward and somehow get healthy because we have a lot of guys out.”
On the new turf:
“It’s the first game so you can’t really be critical of it. As more players play on it, it’s going to get broken in and get better.”
On the early season struggles:
“It’s frustrating. It’s part of the game. It’s about the team that makes the least amount of mistakes. It’s about punishing the other team when they do make a mistake. We just weren’t able to punish them. They did on a couple of mistakes we made. That was just the story of the game today.”
On the adjustments to the lineup:
“Guys gained a lot of experience today. Hopefully that helps us in the long run. Justen Glad played his first game, I think he did really well. There are a lot of positives to take away from the game. It’s not all doom and gloom. We’ll take the positives. We’ll see where we can get better and keep marching forward.”