After roaming North America for nearly 30 days, Vancouver Whitecaps returned home triumphantly and defeated Houston Dynamo 2-1 on Saturday evening.
The combination of Yordy Reyna and Fredy Montero up front led the attack for Vancouver, combining for both goals with Reyna earning and Montero converting a penalty, while Montero set up Reyna for a wonder strike winner.
Those goals set Vancouver on their way and they should have been comfortably home and dry by half time but they ended making it hard for themselves, allowing Houston to pull one back just after the restart, before surviving a couple of late scares to come away with a huge three points.
After a fairly uneventful opening period, Reyna was bundled over in the box and referee Drew Fisher pointed to the spot. Montero stepped up to convert and give the ‘Caps the opening goal and a 17th minute lead.
The Dynamo had a glorious chance to get on the board in the 28th minute when a Romell Quioto free kick, after grazing the wall, forced David Ousted to change direction in what seemed to be in mid air and make the save. And it proved to be a vital one in terms of the end result.
Reyna scored his fantastic winner just after the half hour mark, receiving a pass from Montero and curling a stunning shot from outside the box to the far post and over the outstretched arms of Tyler Deric.
A Goal of the Week contender for sure, and one that left Deric with a Face of the Week contender.
DIP, CURL … It's "Reyna" GOALS here on pride night. 🏳️🌈 https://t.co/THaqbRoW0P
— Vancouver Whitecaps (@WhitecapsFC) August 20, 2017
A couple of minutes after Reyna’s goal the Whitecaps almost went three ahead when Techera tried to convert a Christian Bolanos pass across the six yard area only to be denied by Deric kick save.
Vancouver turned up the pressure and should have gone in with more than a two goal lead. You felt more would surely come, but somehow they ended up stuttering over the line.
Houston looked for a goal to start the second half and would get it six minutes after the break when Mauro Manotas found Quioto making a run into the box, and the winger was able to flick the ball over a charging Ousted to get the visitors within one. One to pin on a goalkeeping error or some great instinct by the attacker? We’ll let you debate that one.
While Houston picked up their fair share of free kicks for the remainder of the second half, they were unable to direct any of them on target, but came close on a couple of occasions. Not good enough to get back into the match and allowing the ‘Caps to capture the full three points.
Vancouver climbs back into a playoff spot with the win and remain within six points of top in the West with games in hand on the majority of teams they’re chasing.
There will be little time for them to reflect on the win as they will host rival Seattle Sounders in a midweek Cascadian clash at BC Place. With five out of six games at home, the ‘Caps know they can go a long way to securing a playoff berth if they do well in these matches. They’re off to the perfect start.
FINAL SCORE: Vancouver Whitecaps 2 – 1 Houston Dynamo
VANCOUVER: David Ousted; Jake Nerwinski (Marcel de Jong 88), Kendall Waston, Tim Parker, Jordan Harvey; Andrew Jacobson, Tony Tchani, Christian Bolanos, Yordy Reyna (Alphonso Davies 85), Cristian Techera (Bernie Ibini 72); Fredy Montero [Subs Not Used: Stefan Marinovic, Russell Teibert, Nicolas Mezquida, Brek Shea]
HOUSTON: Tyler Deric; A.J. DeLaGarza, Adolfo Machado, Leonardo, DaMarcus Beasley; Boniek García (Tomas Martínez 76), Juan David Cabezas, Alex; Andrew Wenger (Memo Rodriguez 85), Mauro Manotas, Romell Quioto (Jose Escalante 89) [Subs Not Used: Joe Willis, Jalil Anibaba, Eric Alexander, Dylan Remick]
On Reyna and Montero’s now getting the chance to do what they were brought in to do:
“In tight games, you need your players to step up. Not just them two, they got the icing on the cake with the two goals, but a number of players stepped up today. That’s why I brought them in. It’s nice when it works.”
On Andrew Jacobson’s performance in Laba’s absence:
“I thought he did well [Jacobson]. Tony was excellent as well. He’s growing each day. You know, I said after the game on Saturday about Mati, it’s a massive loss for us. We know that. He’s arguably as good as any player for us over these three-plus years and it’s heartbreaking for the boy, but football changes. 24 hours in football you can go from being the best to the worst and things like that. We know what we need to do this year and we want to do it for Mati as well. So AJ coming in, he played well.”
On Reyna getting fouled a lot:
“Yeah he will [get fouled]. But I hope he gets the protection that others players like him get as well. So if he can do that on a regular basis, which I believe he can with confidence and fitness, you know he’s like a little terror out there. Running around, pressing. There’s two sides of the game, with the ball and without the ball. You saw the side without the ball today from him. He’s like a rash. He’s all over the place.”
On team’s overall play:
“A good three points against a very good team today. It was a good scrap. That’s what it’s about. It’s about going and getting results. We didn’t make it easy because we gave away a bad goal. It was a bad goal in the second half, but we didn’t get nervous. We had to reset – the guys at the back kept our shape. They had the ball, but they huffed and puffed and couldn’t take their chances.”
On the match:
“I thought we played very well in the first half – controlled the tempo, got goals from it. Second half, one moment of magic. I don’t think it was our best half but we showed a lot of character.”
“We had him in preseason so we got a glimpse of it. The game he got hurt he was playing fantastic. So it was like we got to see it and then it got taken away and now he’s really starting to come into his own.”
On playing without Laba:
“Yeah, every player feels for him. He’s a top class player, top class guy. Everybody roots for him. Guys definitely came together for him.”
On how style of play changes without Laba:
“Look, it’s going to change things no matter who you’re playing next to. If it’s Mati or if it’s somebody else, it’s going to be a bit different. Everybody brings something different to the team and when those players are in it’s going to be different with every player on the team.”
On fullbacks pushing up the field:
“It gives us some options and space. It allows the rest of our attacking players to either get on the ball or if they’re going to double team our attacking players we’re going to get some crosses in.”
On sequence of upcoming home matches:
“I mean what we do at home is going to be very important to us. And we see the stretch we have in front of us and we know we’ve got to start picking up points, so this is the first game in that. And we know we’ got to keep it going.”
Overall thoughts on the match:
“It was a tough one. But at the end of the day we’re happy to get the victory. We needed it. It feels good to be back at home and win three points.”
On Reyna’s goal:
“Amazing. Just an unbelievable goal. I had the opportunity to be there next to him when he shot that ball. It was an excellent goal.”
On connecting with Reyna:
“We’re doing well. I think we’re focused more on helping the team than trying to reach individual goals. We’re happy to contribute to the team with two goals today and hopefully for the next one we can do the same.”
On Reyna playing close to him:
“If I hold the ball long enough for them to come and support me that’s going to be good for the team because we have different kinds of players that can go one-on-one and shoot on goal. We saw today’s goal, Yordy just took a strike from distance and the goalkeeper wasn’t expecting that shot.”
On playing Seattle on Wednesday:
“It’s going to be another big opportunity for me to try to play against my old friends. But it’s going to be just another game for me and the team. I’m more focused on the victory as well.”
Thoughts on the match:
“It’s an ironic game for us because if we isolate the two goals that they scored in the first half, after that we played one of the best games overall the whole year: defensively, moving the ball, passing, attacking, creating options, but that’s the game that we have to face. We went to halftime 2-0, and the idea was just to continue playing with no more silly mistakes, and at some point we needed to score one goal and they were going to be dropping back, they were going to be worrying about us, and we were going to be in control. We did that, and we were in control, we were pushing, but we couldn’t score another one. The effort from the players is good, the mentality and the way we approached it was good. I like that, and we have to take that for the next game against Dallas on Wednesday.”
On set pieces:
“They’re taller – Waston is huge. But, it was a lot of fouls. I think in my opinion the referee could be showing a little bit more yellow cards, because it’s too many fouls from Reyna. Even the PK, before the PK it was a foul against Alex. But, listen, we have to deal with that. It’s part of the games, and part of playing away, that sometimes you receive the calls and sometimes not. But overall the team played well and we were pushing and in control during the second half, which is important for our plan and how we are going to approach the next games in front of us.”
On resting some players:
“It’s just a process to continue growing and resting some players that have been playing a lot of minutes. We have three really tough games in front of us, and they’re ready to play on Wednesday. Despite what happened today, we played very solid and a very good game, so we’re going to continue doing that.”
Did it feel like equaliser was coming?
“Definitely. Even during the first half when we were playing and we were losing 2-0, we felt that we were doing well, we’re going to be fine. We were creating some options, some possibilities. At some point we were going to score one goal. Just the most important thing is no more goals against, no more mistakes, and it’s going to come.”
On facing Dallas next:
“It’s not an easy game. They’re going to be at home, and they’re going to try to get out of that situation, so tough game. Tough game no matter what for us. But we are ready and we are playing well, so that’s the key. It’s not like we played bad today. We played well. We made two mistakes, but after that we showed personality, we showed character, we showed determination to go after Vancouver Whitecaps at their home field, and we did it. It’s important for our confidence.”
Importance of depth and previous squad rotation with players missing now against Dallas:
“It’s been solid for us. It’s been good. We’ve been having a lot of players [play]. Everyone on our roster has played and everyone is confident and everyone pushes every week. Right now, it’s the opportunity. Last game Andrew Wenger didn’t play and today he was starting, pushing, and playing, and he did a good job. All this is important for us as a team because right now it’s the last eight, nine games that we have in front of us. We need to be a solid team and every game has to be at our top level.”
ROMELL QUIOTO (through translator)
“It felt great to score today after a personal drought that I’ve had. It didn’t just feel great for myself, but also for the team.”
On Dallas next:
“It’s a very important match for us, turning around so quickly. It’s very important that we win that match to push us further towards the playoffs.”
On coming back to Vancouver after his injury and hospitalization two years ago:
“It’s great to come back. The people in the Whitecaps organization treated me very well and I’m very grateful for that.”
On fighting until the end:
“It’s a tough one to take. Sometimes when you lose, it doesn’t feel like a loss. I thought we played well enough to get a draw, at least, especially playing away from home. Vancouver’s a tough team, they’ve got a lot of talent on their team. To come away with zero points is frustrating. But the mentality of the team, even from the beginning, we had two mistakes and they capitalized on them, simple as that. I thought everything else was pretty even, but that’s football. That’s the game. You make mistakes, the team capitalizes on them, and they did that and scored their goals and got three points.”
On the importance of turning the page and looking ahead to next match:
“We have to. It starts now. Recovering, especially playing on turf, we have a four and a half hour flight back home. Long travel. With the turf, some of our guys aren’t the youngest you know. But we’ve been through this before. We know how to take care of our bodies. We’ll be ready to go Wednesday. But yeah it’s a tough pill to swallow from tonight. We felt we could have got at least a draw out of today. Both teams fought well. They edged out a little bit but I thought for the 90 minutes I thought it was pretty even.”