Report and Reaction: Damir at the death! Supersub Kreilach grabs dramatic late win for Whitecaps

Report and Reaction: Damir at the death! Supersub Kreilach grabs dramatic late win for Whitecaps

Vancouver Whitecaps headed into BC Place on Saturday night on the back of a much-needed midweek win on the road, looking to finally find some form at home with a two week international break looming. The ‘Caps had only won two of their previous seven home games this season, dropping 13 points in the process.

As much as their away form has made up for that poor home play, it’s not conducive of being a playoff side, making this matchup with Colorado Rapids all the more massive and although it wasn’t anywhere near a perfect performance, goals at the start and at the end of the second half from Sebastian Berhalter and Damir Kreilach, and two assists from Ryan Gauld, gave Vancouver three big points in a 2-1 victory.

With the Whitecaps playing their ninth game in four weeks, Vanni Sartini continued with his squad rotation, making four changes from the team that started that win in Kansas City on Wednesday. Having gone for a tactical tweak midweek, Sartini kept with the 3-5-2 formation, but with two changes to the back three.

The first chance of the game fell to Colorado eight minutes in.

Mathias Laborda, one of those defensive changes, was dispossessed about 20 yards from goal. The ball came to Kevin Cabral, who sent it in across goal for a cheeky little back sweep attempt by Mihailovic that just ran past the back post.

The Whitecaps got their first chance in the 17th minute when Brian White got onto a long ball forward, poked his foot out, but directed his effort just wide.

Colorado thought they had a penalty in the 34th minute when Cabral ran into Laborda in the box. Referee Michael Venne pointed to the spot but the decision was overturned on video review.

White headed straight at Zack Steffen four minutes later before Pedro Vite crashed one of the top of the bar in the 42nd minute, as the Whitecaps pushed to go in ahead at the break.

The last chance of the half fell to the visitors, when Cabral found himself in front of goal, but was denied by a good leg save from Yohei Takaoka and the teams headed in at the half all square and scoreless.

Sartini made an atracking change at the break, bringing on Fafa Picault for Tristan Blackmon.

The Whitecaps were immediately on the front foot after restart and they opened the scoring within a minute when Berhalter got onto a Gauld cross to the back post and tucked it away past Steffen from a tight angle.

It was Berhalter’s first goal of the season, but the Whitecaps’ lead was to last only four minutes.

Mihailovic got the Rapids back on level terms, getting the ball from Omir Fernandez and getting goalside of a stumbling Luis Martins to finish past Takaoka.

It was Mihailovic’s 11th goal contribution in 11 games, and he’s been the straw stirring the Rapids drink of late.

Picault came close to immediately restoring Vancouver’s lead but his low shot to the past post went agonisingly wide.

Gauld then fired a speculative effort just past the right post, with Steffen caught off his line after a poor clearance attempt in the 65th minute.

Moments later another attempted Colorado clearance ricocheted off a teammate and over.

The Rapids had chances from Oliver Larraz and Rafael Navarro just miss before Fernandez curled one off the right post in the 85th minute, which Giuseppe Bovalina reacted quickest to, clearing the danger off the line.

Moise Bombito got onto a Fernandez cross in the 89th minute but Takaoka easily dealt with the header, as the visitors were looking more likely to grab the winner.

But Vancouver had other ideas and grabbed a dramatic late winner a minute into stoppage time.

A Gauld shot didn’t have the power but ran through to Kreilach with his back to goal. The Croatian turned and shot, with Steffen taking most of the power off it, just not enough. It seemed to take an age, but the ball trickled over the line and the Whitecaps were back in the lead and this time it was one they weren’t going to give up.

Vancouver and Colorado both sat on 22 points coming into this one, with the Whitecaps just one place above the Rapids in 6th place in the Western Conference. The victory, and other results, saw Vancouver move up to 5th as they now head into the two week break eight points back from first and a seven point cushion above the playoff line.

These were two big games for the Whitecaps and a six point haul was just what the team was needing to end their slump and set them up well for the second half of the season. The recent run of form will hopefully have given Sartini and Axel Schuster a full evaluation of what players they have, what areas need to be improved, and where additions need to be made come the opening of the summer transfer window.

For now, everyone can finally get some rest and recuperation, regrouping and returning for the next stage of the campaign to come.

FINAL SCORE: Vancouver Whitecaps 2 – 1 Colorado Rapids

ATT: 22,979

SCORING SUMMARY:
46’ – VAN – Sebastian Berhalter (Ryan Gauld, Ali Ahmed)
50’ – COL – Djordje Mihailovic (Omir Fernández)
90’+1 – VAN – Damir Kreilach (Ryan Gauld)

STATS:
Possession: VAN 55.2% – COL 44.8%
Shots: VAN 14 – COL 11
Shots on Goal: VAN 3 – COL 3
Saves: VAN 2 – COL 1
Fouls: VAN 6 – COL 9
Offsides: VAN 1 – COL 1
Corners: VAN 3 – COL 8

BOOKINGS:
9’ – VAN – Tristan Blackmon
20’ – COL – Darren Yapi
45’ – COL – Andreas Maxsø
69’ – VAN – Ryan Gauld

VANCOUVER: Yohei Takaoka; Javain Brown, Mathías Laborda, Tristan Blackmon (Fafà Picault 46′); Ali Ahmed (Giuseppe Bovalina 83’), Sebastian Berhalter, Andrés Cubas, Pedro Vite (Alessandro Schöpf 73’), Luís Martins (Bjørn Inge Utvik 65’); Brian White (19.Damir Kreilach 83’), 25.Ryan Gauld [Substitutes not used: Isaac Boehmer, Ranko Veselinović, Ryan Raposo, Ralph Priso]

COLORADO: Zack Steffen; Keegan Rosenberg, Lalas Abubakar (Moïse Bombito 72’), Andreas Maxsø, Jackson Travis (Sam Vines 60’); Connor Ronan (Oliver Larraz 69’), Cole Bassett; Kévin Cabral (Calvin Harris 60’), Djordje Mihailovic, Omir Fernández; 77.Darren Yapi (Rafael Navarro 69’) [Substitutes not used: Adam Beaudry, Jonathan Lewis, Jasper Löffelsend, Sebastian Anderson]

REACTION:

VANCOUVER WHITECAPS

VANNI SARTINI

On winning a tight match, at home:

“The fact that everyone says [we] are doing very well away, but at home not very well, it was a little bit of a monkey [off our back]. I think it’s the first game of the year that we won where it was very contested, so hopefully it’s a turning point.”

On the team’s depth:

“We have a lot of depth, and we have a lot of people who are trying to get into the team. They are pushing the other players to do well. Last year it probably would have been unthinkable to finish the game and there was no Ranko [Veselinovic] neither Tristan [Blackmon], they would play every game, they were uncontested. This year we have the possibility to rotate them and to play other people too. The same with having Guiseppe [Bovalina], Alessandro [Schopf], Pedro [Vite], and even Damir [Kreilach] and came on and scored. It’s really important that everyone sees that they can have a contribution.”

RYAN GAULD

On tonight’s win:

“It was a big win for us. We know we didn’t play our best game tonight, far from it, but after the load of games we’ve had lately, it was nice to end up with three points”.

On seeing out a victory despite not being at their best:

“Its important to be able to do that. You’re not going to be able to be on top of your game very week, and to be able to just kind of grind it out. It wasn’t the most beautiful last 20-25 minutes but to be able to grind it out and all be there for each other was a huge boost for the team.”

DAMIR KREILACH

On returning to the lineup and scoring the winner:

“I’m happy to be back. It’s been, for me personally, a long two and a half weeks. But as I said, so happy to join the team, even to help them off and on the field. But I always say it’s not just about one guy, it’s about all the group and I think we’ve done a great job tonight to get these three points before the international break. At the end of the day, to climb the table, and the three points gives us the confidence to go forward and take on the new challenges that will be in front of us.”

On ending this busy period on a high:

“It means a lot. First of all, because the season is long and any team is going to have ups and downs, and as long as you minimize those ups and downs, you’re going to be in a great spot. And at the end of the day, I think with these two wins with six points in the last two games, I think we got stable. It was so important [to do that] before the international break, and then after that, you know, another tough schedule with two, three away games. Because of that, we have to be ready and we have to, first of all, recharge the batteries and then come back even stronger.”

HEAD COACH CHRIS ARMAS

On Jackson Travis making his first MLS start:

“He had a good preseason. He trains well every day. He’s engaged. He plays with intensity. He’s prideful. He’s performed with the second team all year long in a really good way. It’s been a long stretch in these last two weeks with a lot of games and his everyday behavior, attitude, performances give us a lot of confidence. For Jack [Travis], I’m really proud of him. He went out there and gave everything. We’re going to stick to our club philosophy and play young players, believe in young players, and validate our academy and our second team.”

On the upcoming break in the schedule:

“They’re going to get some days off, for sure. A nice break for them. We’re a team that sprints and runs more than any team out there. There’s a big cognitive load as well on these guys. We’ve thrown a lot at them tactically, physically, emotionally – another night where it’s an emotional game. The boys need a break. So, we’ll give them that break. They’ll take it completely. There’ll be no video. They won’t hear from me for four or five days, which is well deserved and needed. We’re healthy, we have healthy bodies, but we do need to get everyone rejuvenated with two out of our next three games at home. We’re going to come out swinging again and we’re not accepting these results. We think we’re good enough to sway these things. We’re going to learn and I’m going to, with the staff, teach how we can get better and how we help them along because it’s an attentive group, they’re hungry. I see a lot of winning behaviors in our team and we’re going to turn it into wins. backspin.”

CAPTAIN KEEGAN ROSENBERRY

On the match:

“Disappointing result. Another game where we concede late. I think equally disappointing we conceded really, really soon after halftime, after we have a chance to regroup and kind of catch our breath, get our thoughts together. We’re eager to look forward and look at our run of home games that we have coming up to try and make it right.”

On Djordje Mihailovic’s form:

“Very happy for Djordje. I felt like everybody was eager to see him get off to the races and it took him a couple of games to show up on the on the stat sheet even though he does a lot of other things that don’t show up there. I think we need to continue to go out of our way to find him, and to get him into the game, and when he doesn’t look like he’s on, still playing him. These players that impact the game the way they do they are comfortable with the ball with guys around him. I think we can continue to do that more. He’s done really well for himself in the way that he contributes. We could continue to help him even more. I think that’s on us. He’s been really efficient with limited touches sometimes throughout games and still impacting the game the way does. So, very happy for him. Happy he is a part of our group from the moment he got here. Looking forward to more of what he’s given us.”

Authored by: Michael McColl

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