Report and Reaction: Three is the magic number for Whitecaps as climb up the table continues with win over RSL

Report and Reaction: Three is the magic number for Whitecaps as climb up the table continues with win over RSL

While they showed some rust after an international break, Vancouver Whitecaps were able to shake it off for the most part and were able to hold onto a 3-2 win over Real Salt Lake at BC Place on Saturday evening.

Yordy Reyna got what proved to be the eventual winner with his third of the season, with other goals coming Christian Techera and Kendall Waston, while Chris Wingert and Tony Beltran responded for RSL.

The Whitecaps carried the majority of the opening minutes in the first half with Techera coming close just before the 15th minute when he took a through ball from Reyna but sending his shot wide of the far post. It was a number of close calls from the ‘Caps in the early going, but they just couldn’t direct any on target.

It would be less than 15 minutes before he capitalized on his next opportunity as he took a pass from Jake Nerwinski and one-timed it past a diving Nick Rimando to give the Caps the lead.

The visitors would equalize before the break with Chris Wingert what seemed like a cross but became shot which was palmed away by Ousted. Unfortunately he didn’t get it far enough away from the goal as the ball took a backspin and bounced past the line to tie the match at one.

The even scoreline didn’t last long into the second half. Kendall Waston took advantage of a rebound off the post to slot in the go ahead goal with a nice strike, showing few ill effects from a busy time away with the Costa Rican national team.

RSL had a couple of chances to draw even moments later but it would be Ousted who would make up for his earlier mistake and come up big with a couple of saves to keep the ‘Caps in the lead.

Vancouver would make their opponents regret their missed chances, getting a third after the hour mark when Reyna headed in a short cross from Bernie Ibini past Rimando.

The ‘Caps did a decent job of absorbing the pressure from RSL, but slipped in the 82nd minute when Tony Beltran scored to reduce the lead to one and set up a nervier finish than it should have been.

However that would be as close as they would come to a point and the Whitecaps held onto the lead to take the three points and move up to third in the standings, three points behind Western Conference leader Portland Timbers but with three games in hand.

The Whitecaps will return to action on Wednesday as they host expansion side Minnesota United in their first trip to BC Place. It’s another great opportunity for three points as Vancouver continued their four game home stand.

FINAL SCORE: Vancouver Whitecaps 3 – 2 Real Salt Lake

ATT: 20,783

VANCOUVER: David Ousted; Jake Nerwinski, Kendall Waston, Tim Parker, Jordan Harvey; Aly Ghazal, Tony Tchani, Bernie Ibini (Alphonso Davies 75), Yordy Reyna (Nicolas Mezquida 84), Christian Techera (Brek Shea 69); Fredy Montero [Subs Not Used: Stefan Marinovic, Marcel de Jong, Andrew Jacobson, Erik Hurtado]

SALT LAKE: Nick Rimando; Tony Beltran, David Horst, Justen Glad, Chris Wingert (Brooks Lennon 76); Kyle Beckerman, Sunday ‘Sunny’ Stephen (Luke Mulholland 56), Jefferson Savarino, Albert Rusnak, Joao Plata; Yura Movsisyan (Luis Silva 67) [Subs Not Used: Matt van Oekel, Sebastian Saucedo, Justin Schmidt, Luke Mulholland, Marcello Silva]




On being pleased with contributions from everyone:

“I am. That’s what teams do. I’ve said we’re not a team that’s got [exceptionally] talented individuals, but collectively if we’re going to be successful this year, I’ve said it this season from day one and I’ve said it from day one I took the job that we’re going to do it with a team ethic. If anyone ever thinks that they’re bigger than the team, they won’t be here. So it’s nice when that happens because they’ve got a great spirit and camaraderie amongst themselves. When you work hard you get the rewards, and if you train properly you play properly. I think you saw a committed group today. I think we were naïve at certain times today, we gave up a bad goal when they game was comfortable for us. Then we responded after halftime, credit to the guys, and we go 3-1 up, then we give another bad goal away. But we don’t go under, and I said I’m proud of them because you don’t go under against a good team, by the way. Mike [Petke]’s done a great job since he’s gone in there. They’re fighting for their lives and they’ve got nothing to lose, and it’s hard to play against a dangerous team like that with so many attacking options.”

On needing the team to buy-in:

“You do, but if I don’t get the buy-in, you’re not here. Irrelevant of results, because as I’ve said to you, we have to be committed to one goal. There’s no individuals – yes, we are individuals, but if you’re not buying into the team ethic, you’re not going to be here.”

On Kendall Waston playing twice for Costa Rica in past week then playing 90 minutes and scoring:

“Kendall wanted to play. It’s a catch-twenty-two because you have international dates, and the international players go away. Bola [Christian Bolanos] had come back and he picked up a knee injury. Stefan [Marinovic] was shattered, so he was unable to even put himself in contention either. I asked Kendall how he felt, and he said he was great and wanted to play. I want players like that. Sometimes he will play and sometimes he won’t. I thought he probably played eighty per cent of where he should be, because he was a little bit tired, and it’s understandable. But when the ball’s coming in the box, I don’t want anyone else in there but Kendall and Timmy [Parker].”

On David Ousted responding from first half goal:

“Two big saves, that’s what you want. Every players make mistakes, they do, and it’s how they respond when they make mistakes. If you’re a goalkeeper, unfortunately, when you make a mistake it usually leads to a goal. I said to him at halftime, we need to make sure we’re switched on, our focus is right, let’s get after it. And we did, so that’s what pleased me most. But that’s gone now, three points is great, but a big game on Wednesday for us.”

On letting down after going up 3-1:

“I don’t think we purposely let our guard down, I just think when you play against a good team who are 3-1 down and have nothing to lose, you might as well lose 4-1 or 5-1 I could say, and you gamble a lit bit more, and they did. The fullback got inside our player and beat David [Ousted] at the near post. So it made it edgy, we thought about the substitution with Nico [Mezquida], but we kept to what we believed was right. Probably the disappointing thing is that we didn’t get the fourth goal, because we had two or three great opportunities to do it, and we made wrong decisions. But we didn’t go under, my teams don’t go under.”

On what he’s looking for from central midfielders, by starting Aly Ghazal:

“A performance like Aly Ghazal showed today. I thought he was absolutely top class. He broke up plays, he was simple. I knew he’d get tired, so I told [athletic trainer] Jon Poli that he’d play sixty minutes. But I enjoyed watching him play, so he played 90 minutes. So that’ll put him at risk for Wednesday. But him and Tony [Tchani] had a great balance. You know Rusty [Teibert] played last week against Orlando with Marcel [de Jong] in there, and AJ [Andrew Jacobson] took his rest because he played two games earlier on in the week. So I need fresh bodies all over the park, and I need competition for places, because that brings out the best in players, and sometimes it doesn’t. And when it doesn’t, well you don’t play.”

On if the plan at the start of the year was to build up to a strong playoff run:

“I would have liked to have won the first fifteen games of the season, but that didn’t happen. We put a lot of focus on the Champions League, we know that, and we went as far as we could. We rest after the disappointment of maybe coming up one step too short, so we just refocused. The guys got healthy. We see Yordy [Reyna] coming into his own now and playing, I don’t think he was brilliant today but he gets in the box, he’s a little terrier, we know that. I thought the wide players showed lots of energy and lots of quality in the final third, and the substitutes made a difference. So it’s going to take by committee to get results, and it did today. It was a perfect example.”

On Jake Nerwinski setting up two goals:

“He probably had his best game for me today. When you’re playing against [Jefferson] Savarino and [Joao] Plata, you know they’ve been on fire Salt Lake. I think they’ve won five or six games out of their last eight. So when you’re playing against a team that’s a really good counterattacking team – they like the ball, everything runs through Kyle [Beckerman], who’s still going strong at his old age – and the two wide players are very, very dangerous. So we challenged him and we showed him some video work this week to make him be prepared for two top players out wide. And as I said, he defended very well. I think the one mistake he made he ended up getting a yellow card, which was a simple hook him, but he took him inside and it was a smart tactical foul, so he’s learning. Credit to him, and Jordan [Harvey], both fullbacks were very strong.”


On playing 90 minutes and scoring after playing twice with Costa Rica in past week:

“I feel excited. I always love playing for the club, and obviously I was just trying to have a good recovery as soon as I got [back] here. I know that with all of our physios, everything was going to be okay for this game, and I’m really thankful for them because I feel great on playing, and obviously with the goal and the win.”

On his goal:

“I even surprised myself. I see a little spot right there, and kind of lucky it went there because I was afraid it was going on top of the goal.”

On the team mentality:

“Sometimes if we have a bad touch, we know that our other teammate is going to support us. We are getting stronger in those situations and those areas. Hopefully we can get in the playoffs and make history.”

On RSL getting a second goal late:

“I was really calm because I see all my teammates’ faces and you can sense that everybody was connected. Obviously nobody wanted to let them score, but I know we roll our sleeves up, and I knew with the time and the way we were defending that they wouldn’t tie us.”


On the team mentality and getting contributions from everyone:

“Yes definitely. Carl’s always said that we need the whole squad to perform and do well, and when he makes changes, be ready and take your chance. So I think that’s well drilled into our team.”

On the cross to Yordy Reyna on the third goal:

“I just put in a cross. I knew it was a good area to put the ball across, so I’m happy he made the run there.”

On chemistry with Jake Nerwinski:

“It’s just from training. I think he’s the type of player that I can definitely talk to. He listens and he communicates to me well, so I think that chemistry was instantly there.”

On starting the home stand with a win:

“It was definitely very important to get the win. I think we played pretty well. We obviously did things that we could have done better, but I think as our overall game we did very well.”

On making a move now up the standings:

“I think other people have been talking about it more than us. Having four games at home, you don’t have that often. So having those four games at home, you definitely want to pick up maximum points.”



On playing a counter attacking team:

“Like I said before on the post-game show, if it was that easy that you prepare for a team precisely you know what they’re going to do, if it was that easy to just accomplish that then it would be the most boring sport in the world, it be 0-0 every game because everyone would get it right. I think we reacted right to one or two of their goals, but they just executed better. At the end of the day they played exactly how we though they would. We, for large chunks, played the way we wanted to, it’s just that the quality for some reason from certain players you know off a pass here off a pass there, a miss touch here, a little bit out of position, those things happen you know. Great resiliency and grit for us to come back, we had opportunities to get the tying goal, and possibly a winning goal but it wasn’t on the night.”

On speed of ‘Caps mid/forwards:

“I did tonight what I don’t like to do, when I came in here I was very adamant and clear of how I like to play, not sitting back, that’s a last resort. The way Vancouver plays they’re very direct, they like to get the ball wide, and whip in crosses. They’re number one in the league in set piece goals, they’re number three in total crosses, and they’re next to last in possession. They’re a very direct team so yeah their speed was an issue coming in that’s why we sat a little deeper back. We knew they game would open up eventually, we wanted to get through the first 15 minutes without conceding anything, we did, but again the goals are the things we worked on, and I’m not pointing the finger at players I’m just saying we knew what to expect.”

On set piece goals:

“Yeah of course it’s frustrating for me. It’s probably double frustrating for the players, they’re doing the battling. They’re number one in set piece goals for a reason because they’re very good at it. They’re very good in execution, their cross coming in, they’re very good with the players that they have winning the battles, so again credit to them, but you know it’s frustrating for all of us.”


On final stretch for RSL:

“Well it was already hard, and we still have enough games to win and get in the playoffs. It’s a setback for sure but we’re all already focused on Portland next week.”

On moments where it slipped away:

“I thought it was just plays. They made a couple more plays then we did in front of goal and that was the story of it.”

On the speed of Reyna, and Techera:

“That’s kind of their game plan, if we make a mistake they’re trying to counter at a fast pace so you have to be careful. I thought for the most part it was solid, but as the game went on it was a bit open. We just didn’t make enough plays.”


On being a goalkeeper on set pieces:

“Set pieces, you’ve got to be man for man, and I don’t know, they’re really focused on it, and they’re big obviously, aggressive, and that benefits them on these set pieces.”

On counter attack speed coming towards goal:

“It’s the midfield. We try to be organized. Obviously, I’m the goalkeeper so they’re just coming down through the midfield so you want to be organized as a defence and force them wide.”

Authored by: Steve Pandher

AFTN Soccer Show co-host and Senior Writer

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