Report and Reaction: Tigres show their teeth in second half goal blitz to end Whitecaps’ Champions Cup dreams

Report and Reaction: Tigres show their teeth in second half goal blitz to end Whitecaps’ Champions Cup dreams

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Vancouver Whitecaps knew they had it all to do down in Monterrey, Mexico. Last week’s stunning late free-kick leveller in Langford had given Tigres UANL a crucial away goal in their CONCACAF Champions Cup first round tie, leaving the ‘Caps knowing that they had to score at least one goal in tonight’s second leg.

It was another brave, battling performance from the Whitecaps. They were the better team in the first half and could, and should, have led at the break, but a three-goal second half blitz from Luis Quiñones, Ozziel Herrera, and Juan Pablo Vigon saw Vancouver undone as they pressed for a way back into the tie after falling behind against the Mexican giants for the first time in 141 minutes of football.

A tired Whitecaps side can be proud of how they played over these two legs. They’re still 17 days out from their first league game and have learned a lot about themselves in these games. The challenge for them now is to build upon it for the MLS season to come.

Vanni Sartini made two changes to the team that started last week’s draw in the first leg on Vancouver Island, lining up again in a 3-4-1-2 formation, with the key one being the welcome return of Andres Cubas. One of last week’s standouts, Pedro Vite, was forced to drop to the bench after feeling some hamstring tightness on Monday. Sebastian Berhalter was the other man coming in, with Luis Martins the other dropping to the bench.

The Whitecaps made the stronger start and really took the game to Tigres in the opening minutes, looking the far hungrier side.

Vancouver’s first chance came just three minutes in when Ryan Gauld cut out a loose Nahuel Guzmán clearance in the box, quickly centering it for Damir Kreilach, but the Croatian couldn’t connect on his shot in front of goal. Mathias Laborda then had a strong header that was wide minutes later.

Kreilach actually had the ball in the next in the 15th minute but the flag had gone up quickly for offside.

Tristan Blackmon was next to try his luck for Vancouver, firing a shot into the side netting in the 25th minute, which took a deflection but not getting rewarded with a corner.

Tigres were struggling again to break down the Whitecaps and create much, with a long range André-Pierre Gignac shot that flew over all they had to show for their efforts.

Gignac had a header for Tigres that didn’t miss by much just past the half hour mark, but Yohei Takaoka had it covered all the way.

As the half ticked down, the ‘Caps had a quick counter. A nice pass out to Ryan Raposo was played into the middle and Laborda did well to twist his body to get to the ball but could only pull his shot wide left.

So all square at the break. The Whitecaps looked the better team, but with four shots apiece, it was Tigres who got the only one on target. Vancouver knew they needed to remedy that as they searched for a crucial away goal.

Tigres though came out like a different animal to start the second half, with Juan Brunetta forcing Takaoka to get down and turn the ball away just two minutes in.

The increased intensity paid off for the Mexicans and they took the lead in the 51st minute when Fernando Gorriarán’s dipping header crashed off the bar and was tucked away from close range by Quiñones.

The goal didn’t change too much for Vancouver. They still had to score at least once on the night, now they needed one to level the tie instead of going ahead.

And they had a great chance to do just that in the 55th minute. Brian White was sprung on a quick breakaway and as he bore down on goal Guzmán came off his line. The chance was there for the chip but White took too long and tried to play it into Gauld in the middle, with Kreilach screaming for the ball at the edge of the box. Very much a wasted opportunity.

Tigres had a chance to put the tie to bed in the 61st minute when Quiñones sent a dangerous ball to the back post, which Raposo bravely put it past with a diving header as the flag went up for offside.

Tigres were looking to get that killing second and Rafael Carioca had a 20-yard effort well saved low by Takaoka.

Fafa Picault had come on for the ‘Caps and made a difference right away, forcing a save from Guzmán in the 75th minute with Vancouver’s first shot on target of the match. Two minutes later and Picault was at it again, running at the Tigres defence before firing a shot wide right.

The ‘Caps raised the tempo and with Levonte Johnson now on to cause problems on the other wing, they tried threading the ball through to him but a brilliantly timed last ditch tackle from Jesús Angulo cut out the danger.

It proved to be even more crucial just moments later when Tigres went up the pitch and scored their second of the night in the 85th minute. Diego Lainez sent a brilliant cross into the box for Herrera to head home from six yards out.

The ‘Caps were down and very nearly out, but they kept pushing in the closing minutes and Laborda played a great ball out wide to Picault, who centred it for White, but the American failed to connect from yards out and it ran out of play.

Tigres responded to another missed Vancouver chance by adding to their own tally, as a quick counter was tucked away by Vigon, as Vancouver were caught pushing forward.

Javain Brown had the last chance of the match for Vancouver, with a rocket of a shot that was turned away by Guzmán.

The final whistle came and it was the Liga MX powerhouse that wrapped up the three-goal victory on the night and a 4-1 win on aggregate. I’d argue the overall scoreline wasn’t a fair reflection of how the two ties played out, but probably is an accurate reflection of where the two teams are this year in terms of match fitness and readyness.

Now the ‘Caps have two and a half weeks to prepare for their MLS opener. With a number of pleasing aspects from the games and some excellent individual performances, there’s a lot of hope for what could be to come for the rest of 2024.

FINAL SCORE: Tigres UANL 3 – 0 Vancouver Whitecaps [Tigres win 4-1 on aggregate]

ATT: 24,988

TIGRES: Nahuel Guzmán; Jesús Garza, Juan José Purata, Samir Caetano de Souza, Jesús Angulo; Fernando Gorriarán (Juan Vigón 79′), Rafael Carioca (Sebastián Fierro 87′); Luis Quiñones (Diego Lainez 72′), Juan Brunetta (Sebastian Córdova 72′), Ozziel Herrera; 10.André-Pierre Gignac (Nicolás Ibáñez 80′) [Substitutes not used: Felipe Rodríguez, Miguel Ortega, Diego Reyes, Eduardo Tercero, Eugenio Pizzuto, Marcelo Flores, Fernando Ordóñez]

VANCOUVER: Yohei Takaoka; Mathías Laborda, Ranko Veselinović, Tristan Blackmon (Bjørn Inge Utvik 82′); Sebastian Berhalter (Javain Brown 61′), Alessandro Schöpf (Pedro Vite 61′), Andrés Cubas, Ryan Raposo (Fafà Picault 72′); Ryan Gauld; Brian White, Damir Kreilach (Levonte Johnson 81′) [Substitutes not used: Isaac Boehmer, Max Anchor, Belal Halbouni, Luís Martins, J.C. Ngando]




What are your main takeaways from this match and heading into the MLS season?:

“The main takeaway for the for this game is that again, we need to keep our structure, we need to play every minute ‘til the end and of course we need to score our chances. Even after the goal that we conceded, we had 25 minutes really good until minute 35-ish [of the second half] because we were keeping our structure, we were defending very well, and we need to stay in the game. The last 10 minutes we went a little crazy, we went a little bit too much everyone trying to win the game by himself. And of course, we become unbalanced and a good team like Tigres can score against us. So that’s the takeaway from these two games. If we keep our structure, if you do the things that you’re supposed to do, we can go toe-to-toe against one of the best team in CONCACAF. So it’s very, I would say, auspicious for the things that [are] going to happen in the league.”

On being in preseason, and trying to get back to the Concacaf Champions Cup:

“Of course we are not brilliant like we are supposed to be during the season, and we are working on it. After this game, we are not going back home. We are going to Palm Springs to do another week of preseason and our league is going to start only in 15 days. So it’s going to be something that we work of course on, our intensity, to be more brilliant, to be to be better in the final third. But again, I think that the base is there. We need to keep working. The first time last year [in Concacaf Champions Cup] it wasn’t a good one, the second time maybe not. I like to be in the Champions Cup. I like to, I would say, practice my Spanish in the press conference. We want to be in this competition next year too, so we need to be good in the league.”

Authored by: Michael McColl

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