With a late winner from super sub Yordy Reyna, Vancouver Whitecaps were able to come back in the second half to defeat New York City FC 3-2 in a rollercoaster of a match that hung in the balance till the final few minutes.
Fredy Montero and Jordan Harvey also found themselves on the scoresheet for Vancouver, while Maxime Chanot and David Villa responded for the third year club from New York.
There was no doubt that Wednesday night’s match was a tale of two halfs, with NYCFC in charge during the first while Vancouver took over in the second and put in one of their best 45 minutes of the season, coming on the back of one of their worst in the first half in Chicago at the weekend.
It didn’t take long for the Whitecaps to get on the board with the opening goal coming in the third minute when Montero intercepted a back pass and a slip from Alexander Ring to beat Eirik Johansen at the far post, wrongfooting the New York keeper.
The visitor’s responded a minute later and David Ousted had to come up big with a diving save in order to deny a Thomas McNamara shot from finding the top corner of the net.
The majority of the half was controlled by the visitors and it finally paid off for them in the 34th minute when Maxime Chanot put away a spilled RJ Allen shot past Ousted to tie the match. Another costly defensive blunder from the ‘Caps.
It didn’t stop there for NYCFC as they took the lead when David Villa converted a controversial penalty six minutes later, with Kendall Waston adjudged to have hit McNamara in the face with a swinging arm.
The second half started in a positive way for the ‘Caps, as they took the game to visitors. They got their reward in the 54th minute when Harvey volleyed home a pinpoint Christian Bolaños cross to the back post.
Other than Ousted stopping Andrea Pirlo on a 1 v 1 play from inside the box, the Whitecaps carried the majority of the play for the half.
Johansen was the busier of the two keepers and he was forced to make stops off Techera early, as well as tipping a Bolaños shot over the bar in the 85th minute.
In addition to those, there was a near miss from Waston at one post, while Techera sent his shot from in close into the side netting.
The Whitecaps finally made their chances count in the 88th minute when Reyna powered home a diving header, thanks to a perfectly placed Jake Nerwinski cross after a nice move with Techera. It was Peruvian’s first MLS goal on a fairytale home debut.
Villa almost tied it up immediately but his shot from inside the box was sent high over goal, allowing the ‘Caps to hold for a full three points.
With the win, Vancouver leapfrogs over a couple of teams into sixth place and still hold one to three games in hand on all the clubs in the Western Conference, with a team that is now finally back to full strength.
The Whitecaps will now have a full two weeks off with a return to action in southern California as they take on a shell-shocked Los Angeles Galaxy on July 19th.
FINAL SCORE: Vancouver Whitecaps 3 – 2 New York City FC
ATT: 22,120 (sell out)
VANCOUVER: David Ousted; Jake Nerwinski, Kendall Waston, Tim Parker, Jordan Harvey; Andrew Jacobson (Bernie Ibini 84), Tony Tchani; Cristian Techera, Christian Bolaños, Brek Shea (Yordy Reyna 65); Fredy Montero (Erik Hurtado 90+1) [Substitutes not used: Paolo Tornaghi, Nicolás Mezquida, Christian Dean, Mauro Rosales]
NEW YORK: Eirik Johansen; RJ Allen (Mikey Lopez 65), Maxime Chanot, Alexander Callens, Ben Sweat; Alexander Ring, Andrea Pirlo (Maximiliano Moralez 75), Yangel Herrera (Frederic Brillant 53); Jack Harrison, David Villa, Thomas McNamara [Substitutes not used: Andre Rawls, Ethan White, Kwame Awuah, Jonathan Lewis]
On whether first half adversity was all the motivation they needed for second half display:
“You have to give credit sometimes to the opposition team. We got off to a really good start, I wanted to play on the front foot, especially after Saturday’s disappointment. We did, we got a goal from that. But we weren’t in any doubt that it’d be a very difficult game against NYCFC. They’ve got top, top players and players who haven’t played regular minutes for them come in today. So we knew it would be difficult, and we knew they would have a lot of the ball, because they’re a possession orientated team. We hung in there. I think I’ve used it before, it was an awful decision. [But] I said to the players, ‘I want to keep eleven men on the field, reset, refocus, and just get back to basics’. And that was us in the second half. We’ve got to know we are. If we think we’re going to pass every team off the park, we’re mistaken. If we want to make the game simple, and get our attacking players in attacking areas to let them express themselves, like we did in the second half, we’re going to win games. And that’s what I said to them at halftime. I was quite calm at halftime compared to Saturday’s.”
On getting Yordy Reyna back:
“I’m so pleased. I’m excited for the twenty-plus thousand that watched the game today, because when we brought him in in the offseason, it was a quiet signing for us but I knew that he had great technical ability, as we saw in Portland in preseason. Then he gets injured, so the Whitecaps fans have had to wait four months, and be patient to see. But what an occasion today when he comes on. I think he should probably have scored two goals, but it was a great header. He wants to get in the box. I say to all my players in attacking areas, ‘if you want to score goals, you have to make the effort and have the desire to get in the box’. Fredy [Montero] got his reward today, and so did Yordy [Reyna]. And so did Jordan Harvey, as he keeps reminding me. We’re delighted to have Yordy back, it increases competition. He’s still not fit, he’s still way not fit, which is why I can only play him for thirty minutes. But there were some adjustments made, and the players deserve a lot of credit today because we did go for it. We’re against a good team, I know Patrick [Vieira] well, and they’re a good team. They’ve got top, top players that can hurt you, but did we want to get a point after eighty minutes or did we go for it? Which is why I put AJ [Andrew Jacobson] off and put Bola [Christian Bolanos] in a deep midfield role, and put Bernie Ibini on to try and win it, and today it worked.”
On the different dynamic Reyna now offers team:
“He finds pockets of space. His awareness is unbelievable. He’s got a good football brain. He finds spaces, but when you find a space, you’ve got to be positive in your play and you’ve got to have an end product. He showed today that his end product, not just with the goal, but with his other numerous passes and chances. He’s a very smart footballer.”
On the lift from a goal from an unlikely source such as Jordan Harvey:
“A big lift, if I’m honest. He snuck around the back post. He tends to do that. Jordan is good to give you two or three goals a season. I think Fredy Montero missed a great chance with a header just a few minutes earlier. You know, the crowd that we have here are great. They get behind us when we’re on the front foot and when we’re doing well. And I think they sensed something was coming, which is why introduced Yordy as well. I think it was the momentum that carried us over today. So Jordan’s goal obviously had a big effect, but there was some super performances today, there really was, especially in the second half.”
On first game in Vancouver:
“I’m very happy to have been able to score my first goal with Whitecaps FC. My teammates were all very supportive of me during my recovery [from injury]. I’m just happy to have been able to contribute to the team today.”
On finally getting to play after a long injury:
“Those were four very difficult months with the injury and everything, having to consult the doctors and physiotherapists but I’m pleased with the result we were able to get today.”
On first goal with Whitecaps FC:
“The coach spoke with me and decided to give me the opportunity so I really wanted to prove myself and play. I appreciate the coach for giving me his confidence.”
On playing against New York City FC:
“They are a very good team with excellent players like David Villa and Pirlo. It was a great game but the important thing is that we got the result and the three points.”
On his goal:
“Huge, we are happy, I mean the first half and the second half were totally different. As a professional soccer player, you don’t see these games too often and we are proud of what we did in the second half. We spoke in the locker room and we said that’s the mentality we have to have from now on.”
On Yordy Reyna:
“Different skills, he’s a small guy that can go one-on-one with any player, any big defender and he can score goals. You see that impressive header he scored today and he gave us three points.”
On the change in the second half:
“We didn’t have anything to lose, we were risking everything, we were down in the score already, we knew that we were playing at home after a tough loss in the past game and we were giving a little more than what we had in the second half. You see the goals, two or three crosses, and we finish all of them.”
On importance at the midway point:
“It’s very important for us to continue like this. From this point on, you see all the teams that are going to make the playoffs going away from the teams that are going to stay at the bottom, so of course we want to go with the top group. Our focus is to make the playoffs and this a huge opportunity for us to get our confidence back, to know that at home we have one style. We want to believe what the coach is telling us every week, believing what we have, and all the players on this team to just enjoy the games we play at home.”
On the message at halftime:
“The coach is always passing the message of the skills, the experience, all the stuff we do during the week, we have to show that in the games. We know that we prepare for every game differently and this wasn’t an exception. For 45 minutes, we were not doing our job, and the second half was proof that we can continue believing in ourselves.”
On being one-v-one with the keeper early on:
“I took the chance and I scored the goal. Hopefully I can have more opportunities like that but all the games are different. We knew in the second half we put our self in that position and we had to do more to come back and score more goals.”
On tonight’s exciting win:
“It seems like every time we play New York City, it is kind of a wild ride. There’s penalties called, momentum shifts. We go up, they go up, then we go up. It’s a fun game, I’m sure for spectators as well. Thankfully, we came out on top today.”
On the importance of the win:
“It’s always important, I think, when you’re going on a long break. To go into it with a little bit of momentum, to go into it with a good mindset. We did that tonight, and especially coming off a poor performance against Chicago. We needed that bounce-back for our confidence and I think we got it.”
On heading into the second half of the season with a win:
“It’s important for the second half of the season, it’s important hopefully going into the playoffs. You could see pieces coming together, guys coming on to the field, contributing from the bench. We still have a lot of work to do. The more we get everybody contributing like that, the more we can gel as a team, the better. I think you saw the goals coming at home and defensively, we were sound enough to win the game.”
NEW YORK CITY FC
Thoughts on the match:
“When I look at the game, I think both teams had their own half. I think even if we conceded the first goal in the first half, we managed to get back and winning 2-1. I think in the first half we created a lot of chances, and we only score two goals. Then we came back in the second half, they were more aggressive, put us under a lot of pressure. And the chances or the situations that they created, they scored the goals. I think both teams had their own half, and the difference was that they took their chances and we didn’t in the first half.”
On late chances not hitting the target:
“I think you’re always disappointed when you’re winning 2-1 at halftime and lose the game 3-2 and created the number of chances that we created away from home. But when I look at the performance of my players, the way they worked, it’s difficult for me to ask them to do more than they did today. I’m really happy with their performances, and I believe that if we keep playing like that, if we keep working the way we’ve been working in the last few weeks, we will win more games than we’re going to lose. But today you have to give credit to Vancouver, because the first half was tough for them because I think we played well. But they managed to find the energy to bounce back and to score these two goals in the second half to give them the three points. So we have to give them a lot of credit as well, because they played some good football that time.”
On Andrea Pirlo’s play:
“I think Andrea had a really good game today. I think when you look at the first half, the way he worked with Alex [Ring] and Yangel [Herrera], the way we build up, the vision that he had in the game, he opened up our game. Switching the game from one side to the other side, it was a really good performance from Andrea.”
On the halftime message:
“That’s why I think we are disappointed because we are leading at the half 2-1, and unfortunately you cannot lose the game like that. 2-1 away with 45 minutes left, we should be more clever and play differently. As players, we made a big, big fault. We have to think about this and try not to do the same mistakes in the next games.”
On starting Andrea Pirlo in the middle:
“Andrea was one of the best players in the world. With all his experience every time he is on the pitch he gives us a very good ball, he gives us confidence when we need it and that’s what he did tonight. Despite the result, he played a good game. Let me tell you again, we’re not happy about the result and I would like to forget this game and look forward to the next one.”
On his goal:
“As soon as I saw the ball go to the far post I’m trying to get in front of the keeper. That’s what I’ve done and I’ve been really lucky to have the ball come back on my foot. It was the equalizer but in the end, it doesn’t mean anything, we lost the game. I’d prefer to not score and win the game, but this is football. Like I said, we have to learn from our mistakes and tonight we didn’t.”
On the intensity between both clubs:
“I think we dominated the game and then we lose the three points. We should be very disappointed.”
On the first Whitecaps FC goal:
“The ball goes over me and I try to get a foot on it, and it gets stuck in the turf. But yeah, it happens.”
On the team’s standing thus far:
“You can always be better. You have to have that goal, but all-in-all I think that we can be quite happy with the way we are playing in the season until now, and I think we are getting better and better. Today was an off day from us in the second half, but that happens. We had four wins before that. You win, you lose, but the most important thing is how you come back after a loss, and that’s what we’ll be focusing on when we come back.”