Columbus Crew came to BC Place on Wednesday evening and gave the Whitecaps their toughest test of the season so far. The ‘Caps defence was ripped wide open by a talented Crew attack and they were forced to dig deep to come from behind twice to salvage a point. With their intense pressure during the final third of the match, however, Vancouver will be disappointed not to have come away with all three.
Here’s our match report and postgame reaction from both locker rooms after the 2-2 draw.
With all eyes on Vancouver Whitecaps after their climb to the MLS summit, the question was whether the juggernaut would continue or would a talented Columbus Crew side prove to be a banana skin.
In the end, the Whitecaps showed a fighting quality that shows just why they sit top of the standings, but they were made to work very hard for a share of the points after an entertaining 2-2 draw.
A goal in each half from Kei Kamara put Columbus ahead twice, with Octavio Rivero and Darren Mattocks cancelling those strikes out with one of their own. Vancouver will have been disappointed not to take all three points after some intense late pressure but they extended their unbeaten run to five matches and increased their lead at the top of the tables.
Carl Robinson had signaled changes but made only two, with Diego Rodriguez coming in for a rested Pa Modou Kah and the in-form Darren Mattocks, coming in for the equally in-form Kekuta Manneh on the left wing.
Columbus were missing an important piece in the suspended Federico Higuain, but they took the came to the home side early and should have taken the lead in the 9th minute when Justin Meram showed some fine footwork in the box but pulled his effort wide left.
Vancouver were dealt a blow in the 15th minute when a groin pull forced Rodriguez out of the game and Kah had to come in for his second game in five days.
The Crew were looking the more dangerous and their fast paced play got its reward in the 24th minute when Kamara played in Ethan Finlay, but as Kendall Waston went in for the tackle, the ball broke back to Kamara who clinically finished past David Ousted for 1-0 Crew.
The goal kickstarted the Whitecaps and they leveled just seven minutes later following some quick thinking from Mattocks on a throw-in. The Jamaican took a quick throw to Rivero, who easily shook off Michael Parkhurst and poked the ball past Steve Clark.
Vancouver had a couple of chances to go in with the lead at the half, but Columbus were also looking dangerous on their counterattacks and both sides had to be happy going in at the break on level terms.
Columbus game out quickly again to start the second and took the lead following a rare mistake from ‘Caps keeper David Ousted. Meram pounced on a weak kick from the Dane, ran into the box and squared to Kamara who showed some cool composure to sidefoot home and give the Crew the lead once more.
Again the goal gave the ‘Caps a kick up the ass and they went out all guns blazing for the equaliser, with Pedro Morales and Matias Laba both coming within inches of grabbing it.
It was to finally come in the 64th minute when substitute Manneh got on the end of the fantastic long ball from Kah, hit the byeline, and cut the ball back to Mattocks who slotted home under Clark from eight yards out.
The goal signalled a full-on attacking onslaught from Vancouver, with Mattocks having numerous chances to get the go ahead goal, but was thwarted by the post, Clark and misfiring.
Columbus held strong and nearly grabbed the winner themselves when Finlay was played in by Kamara but Ousted was out quick to close him down.
There was to be no way through though for either side and an entertaining affair came to an end at two apiece. Columbus will have been happy to survive the late push by the league leaders and while Vancouver will be happy with coming from behind twice, their defensive mistakes and wastefulness in front of goal are concerns.
FINAL SCORE: Vancouver Whitecaps 2 – 2 Columbus Crew
VANCOUVER: David Ousted; Steven Beitashour, Kendall Waston, Diego Rodriguez (Pa-Modou Kah 15), Sam Adekugbe; Matías Laba, Russell Teibert; Nicolás Mezquida (Kekuta Manneh 57), Pedro Morales, Darren Mattocks (Robert Earnshaw 90+2); Octavio Rivero [Subs not used: Paolo Tornaghi, Jordan Harvey, Erik Hurtado, Deybi Flores]
COLUMBUS: Steve Clark; Chris Klute, Michael Parkhurst, Tyson Wahl, Héctor Jiménez (Chad Barson 70); Wil Trapp (Mohammed Saeid 45), Tony Tchani; Ethan Finlay, Ben Speas (Kristinn Steindorsson 70), Justin Meram; Kei Kamara [Subs not used: Matt Lampson, Kevan George, Aaron Schoenfeld, Adam Bedell]
Thoughts on the match:
“A very entertaining game for a neutral. I think we’ve had enough chances to probably win the game. We didn’t take enough of our chances. But we weren’t good enough defensively, we let two sloppy go in. We got countered, and the second goal obviously, it was a bad goal for us to concede.”
Thoughts on Darren Mattocks:
“He was very good. He got his goal, he could have maybe had one or two more. But I can’t fault my players in there today because, we were exciting to watch attacking wise but we just have to tidy up a few things on the defensive side of it.”
Updates on the injuries to Rodriguez and Waston:
“I’m carrying five centre backs for a reason, and I might have lost two in one game. Diego has a slight twinge in his groin, obviously to what extent I don’t know and Kendall fell very badly. I think everyone was clear to see he got undercut and fell awkwardly, which made me angry, as you can see.”
Thoughts on Kekuta Manneh subbing on in the second half:
“He was excellent when he came on and you know, ideally, in an ideal world I want to play Kekuta maybe three games, 90 minutes in a week. But the boy is 20, he’s got massive potential and I just thought the game would be very tight in the first hour and I was probably correct with that. Obviously I didn’t envision we concede two goals, but we did. I just think it was the right time. I was obviously going to play him for half an hour and see if he could bring that spark and maybe try one in the game, but he showed me what he can bring to the table. He’s probably disappointed he didn’t get one of his shots on target as well.”
Thoughts on Ousted:
“We score goals as a team. We concede them as a team. So there’s no fault in any player for me. My fault. You can blame me for the second goal.”
Thoughts on coming back twice:
“A lot of character shown today. A lot of character. We’re young. We’re hungry. We’re energetic. But when you get down a goal at home and you’re able to bounce back and then you concede again, really against the run of play in the second half I thought. We started to come out, I challenged them at halftime to come out on the front foot. They did. But we conceded again, a bad goal, my mistake. So we responded very well. I’ll never fault the character of the group in there. Because they wanted to win and we’re disappointed we only got a point. But that shows how far we’ve come. Against a very good Columbus team, [Gregg’s] done a super job there, moulding the team in the way he wants to play. So they should be given a lot of credit as well.”
Thoughts on Columbus’ attacking play:
“[No, not surprised] If you watch them, and I do watch them, they like to play, they like to attack, and they’re wide open at times. We got into that match with them because we’re wide open at times, and I think that’s why I said it was an entertaining game. But not surprised at all. I think in the previous games when they played New York, New York beat them at home but they could have won on those days. So I wasn’t surprised.”
Thoughts on Mattocks given the start:
“I felt it was the right time to give Darren the opportunity. He’s been away with Jamaica, he scored two goals, he got very very lively in training. And the decision was correct, because he came on and put a very strong performance for 90 odd minutes. He ran out of gas in the end, which is why I tried to put [Earnshaw] on to see if we could nick a second ball off a Kendall header or something, but he should be very proud of his performance today.”
On what he said to Mattocks after match:
“Well done. As I say to all my players if they play well or if they play poorly. It’s another day, it’s gone. But he should be proud of his performance. He’s done everything, he scored his goal, he maybe could have had two or three on a different day but his work rate was there. His run in, his understanding of the game was there. And I thought he gave us a very good option down the left side and the right side when we flipped him over.”
Thoughts on the match:
“It was a fantastic game. We should’ve gotten three points. In the second half, I think the guys did really well and showed great character. That’s what’s going to take this club to the next level. After five games, we’re unbeaten so we just have to keep that going.”
On his individual performance:
“I guess the fans took it really well so that’s a positive. It’s expected of me to score. I put so much work in defensively, something I’m not used to doing on a regular basis because I’m a striker. I think I did really good defensively, that’s what I’m going to take from this game. If I can continue to do that on both sides of the ball, creating chances for the team but working hard defensively, I think I will be in pretty good shape going forward.”
On Kekuta Manneh’s contributions:
“He’s a great player. Every game he plays, we know what he’s capable of doing and what he’s expected to do. He gets by defenders so easily. Fortunately for me, I was in the right place at the right time. That goal was all because of him. As soon as I scored, I told him, ‘That’s all you, kid.’ This squad is deep and we’re going to need it from him for the entire season.”
Thoughts on the match:
“It’s a tie. I think that shows the kind of locker room we have this year and the quality of that team that we have. We’re disappointed with a draw, whereas maybe in years past, we’d be happy coming out of here with a draw. We played well tonight but I don’t think we were up to the same standards as we played last Saturday but we still created chances and we still scored goals. There’s a lot of positives we can take out of this game but just like Saturday, today’s done. We turn the page and look forward to the weekend because we have another tough game ahead of us. We need to keep taking as many points as we can.”
On the team’s mentality:
“That all just stems from the winning mentality that we have. No matter how we’re playing, we’re always looking to win. Maybe even in games in the past that we didn’t played our best, we came out of here with points. You could say that against Toronto, the first 45 minutes was the best football we’ve played and we didn’t manage to get a result there but ever since that game, we’ve gotten points from every single match.”
On his health:
“It was just a knock on my foot, I got some ice on it right now. It doesn’t seem too serious. We’ll re-evaluate it in the morning but we just need to get some rest tonight.”
On players going down due to injury:
“You’ll never know what will happen in a game. People can go down with injuries anytime like Diego [Rodriguez]. You just wish and hope that nobody’s seriously injured and that everybody can do what they love and that’s just to play on the field and be healthy.”
On the team’s performance:
“I don’t think you can single one person out. You have 18 guys who are pushing to get on the field and anyone who comes on the field and fills a position is giving their best and giving their all. I think there were a lot of great performances tonight, both from guys coming off the bench and guys starting. All over the field, I think there were fantastic performances. Being the team that we are, I don’t think any one person will single anybody out. It’s a team game and we win, lose, and draw as a team.”
Thoughts on match:
“I think overall it was a positive match for us, a good performance. We had a game plan and I think by and large we executed the game plan.”
Thoughts on Kamara scoring both goals tonight:
“He’s a very good player and he got some good chances and finished them. When we can get him in positions like that, we know he’s going to score. Overall we’re pleased with his performance. I think he showed a lot tonight.”
Thoughts on the next match against New England:
“It is what it is. It’s our schedule and we have to deal with it. I think it’s obviously not the easiest, but it’s something we’re up for the challenge.”
Thoughts on scoring twice:
“It’s my job, it’s what I do, obviously it’s good to do it at the right time for the team and putting us in a good position. I still could’ve been better. I felt like we could’ve been a lot better today against Vancouver, they’re a good team, but you know getting two goals on the road should definitely give us three points.”
On playing against Waston and Kah:
“[Laughs] Trees man. It’s great, it’s a competition and I enjoy it. We’re not a team that kicks the ball forward and kicks the ball so I can really jump with them showing height with them. Physically they are strong guys and they’re really smart and as a player you really want to test yourself against some of the good players in the league. Vancouver is first place for a reason they’re doing well defensively and offensively the collectiveness of the entire team is good and I really enjoyed playing against those two guys.”
Thoughts on getting a road result:
“Game was back and forth. They’re dangerous, I thought we did well to hold on to get the result.”
Playing at BC Place:
“It’s a nice stadium, I thought it was loud. We got another one in four days so yeah just getting used to the turf.”
Positives from the match:
“Tough place to play, obviously the stadium, the fans, and then the team. I thought their team was very dangerous especially on the counter, they just like to go. We were able to hold them, they scored two goals but so did we. I think that was a good result and we’ll move from here.”