Report and Reaction: Welsh wizard grabs winner in another late, late show for Cardiac ‘Caps
Three wins a row, three heart stopping last gasp winners in a row. Vancouver Whitecaps are showing their never say die attitude to kick off the new MLS season and they left it late once again on Saturday with Robert Earnshaw’s 90th minute strike giving them all three points in the first Cascadia derby of the season against Portland Timbers.
Here’s our match report and full post game reaction from both locker rooms after the ‘Caps 2-1 victory.
REPORT (by Steve Pandher):
Vancouver Whitecaps left it to the last moments but for the third straight week they scored a late winner to defeat Cascadian rivals Portland Timbers 2-1. The victory clinching goal came from new signing Robert Earnshaw, with Nicolas Mezquida scoring his first of the season in the first half before Portland countered late on with a goal from Fanendo Adi.
It was the Timbers who looked to open the scoring in the 4th minute when George Forchive had a strike from outside the box that forced Ousted into making a diving stop to turn the ball around the post for a corner. They had another chance a few minutes later from inside the box, but Kendall Waston and Pa-Modou Kah combined to make a block.
But just before the quarter hour mark the Caps capitalised on a free kick, as Mezquida scored his first of the season with a 20 yard curler over the wall, that dipped quickly inside the near post past a diving Adam Kwarasey, before nestling in the bottom left corner of the net.
The remainder of the first half saw the home side concede the majority of possession to the Timbers but Portland were unable to capitalise, going into the break down a goal.
The second half started similar to how the first ended, as the Timbers controlled the majority of the match, but there was no clear cut opportunity until the 70th minute when Ousted came up with another fine diving stop off a rocket from Darlington Nagbe.
With less than ten minutes to go it looked as though the Caps would get their insurance goal as Octavio Rivero found the ball at his feet just outside the six yard area. Unfortunately he couldn’t wriggle the ball free and strike it into goal.
It looked like it was going to prove to be a costly miss, as just a minute after, the Caps would give up an equaliser and Portland were finally able to convert on their chances and domination of possession.
Rodney Wallace sent a low cross in from the left side of the box which Ousted got a hand to but it was directed to the feet of Adi who made no mistake in depositing the ball into the open net from close range to tie things up.
The visitors had two chances to complete the comeback in the 89th minute when first Dairon Asprilla’s header bounced off the turf and just missed the top of the net, then moments later Adi was one on one with Ousted but the keeper came up big from point blank range to keep the score level.
But just when it looked like Vancouver would be satisfied with a draw, new signing Robert Earnshaw opened up his account with Caps.
After working the ball around, Pedro Morales slipped the ball in between Nat Borchers and Liam Ridgewell to Earnshaw who took a touch and chipped the ball over the keeper to give his new club the three points and the Welshman another debut goal, something he’s made a habit of over the years.
It was agreed by most after the match that the Whitecaps didn’t deserve the win. They were thoroughly outplayed for the majority of the 90 minutes and ended up with only 34% possession, which is staggering for a home game.
However, they did come up with the result and now ride a three game winning streak after their opening day loss. They will now go for four straight at B.C. Place next Saturday, when they host the defending MLS Cup champs L.A. Galaxy.
FINAL SCORE: Vancouver Whitecaps 2 – 1 Portland Timbers
ATT: 22,500 (sell out)
VANCOUVER: David Ousted; Steven Beitashour, Kendall Waston, Pa-Modou Kah, Sam Adekugbe; Gershon Koffie (Deybi Flores 78), Matías Laba, Erik Hurtado (Robert Earnshaw 87), Pedro Morales, Nicolas Mezquida (Kianz Froese 52); Octavio Rivero [Subs not used: Paolo Tornaghi, Tim Parker, Jordan Harvey, Ethen Sampson]
PORTLAND: Adam Kwarasey; Alvas Powell, Nat Borchers, Liam Ridgewell, Jorge Villafana; Darlington Nagbe, Diego Chara, George Fochive (Gaston Fernandez 75), Rodney Wallace; Fanendo Adi, Maximiliano Urruti (Dairon Asprilla 65) [Subs not used: Andrew Weber, Jeanderson, Taylor Peay, Norberto Paparatto, Nick Besler]
Thoughts on the match:
“Today I thought we were ordinary at best but we stole a victory in the end so I’m very happy.”
On David Ousted’s performance:
“He was excellent. He won us the game today. Obviously the substitutes coming on made a big difference as well for us but without David we would have lost the game. Maybe we deserved to lose the game but when you have a top goal keeper it’s important he keeps you in games like he did today. They were the better team. They were the better team for long stretches. We couldn’t get to grips with them. When it went to 1-1 we would have taken a draw at that point but we put Earnie (Earnshaw) to try and nick us a goal. That’s why we signed him.”
On being dominated in midfield:
“I don’t know. That’s something we need to look at because they are a good team with good players. We can say that we had a couple players missing but it’s irrelevant. We shouldn’t be dominated like that in the midfield area. We are very strong in midfield. The game is won and lost in midfield. Every game of football is. Today we came out on top with a moment of magic. A sliding pass from Pedro and Earnie chips over the goalkeeper. I will take the points.”
What was said to Earnshaw before he went on?
“I said he will get one chance. I’ve known Earnie for a number of years and I’ve brought him here because he can score goals. He got 266 or 267 goals in his career and when he gets a chance and when he is in the right position he usually takes it. Obviously the pass was excellent. The slide-rule pass and obviously the calmness and coolness of the finish and the calmness in his head was outstanding. We’ll take it.”
Thoughts on Morales’ game:
“He has put an excellent pass through for the winning goal. I think all my players weren’t up to scratch. I think we all were probably fives and sixes out of 10 if you mark players. I think Portland players were sevens and eights. The two wide players for me were excellent today.”
On his history with Earnshaw:
“I’ve played obviously in Wales a number of times with him. We’ve been in the squad for eight or ten years together. Played together at Norwich for 18 months so I know what he is good at and I know what he needs a kick in the backside with sometimes but he is a great professional. He gets the job done and today he got the job done.”
On Nico taking the free kick:
“They both got good quality. Pedro bangs them in for fun in training and so does Nico. I think Nico was feeling confident, he had a good rhythm early in the game, and he popped that in with great technique.”
On what was said to his players post-match:
“We need to be better next week. We’re playing the best team in MLS next week and the best coach. We’re gonna have to be a lot better than we were today. As I said sometimes you can’t play pretty football and be brilliant and win every game of football. Today we weren’t good. We were okay at best but we won. We will take it and we’ve got a lot to learn. We’ve got to work hard next week. We need to perform better than that.”
On Sam Adekugbe:
“We’re lucky we’ve got one of the best medical teams in the league. It was touch and go for Sam today. He trained yesterday a little bit and managed to declare himself fit. I thought he did okay today. Like all the players he did okay. I’ve got no worries because I’ve got two fantastic left backs.”
On Flores’ debut:
“He showed a drive from midfield which I think some players lacked at certain times. It was a very positive 20 plus minutes for him. I think he was eager to get a goal. He was obviously delighted playing in front of the 22,000 screaming fans here. The noise was nice when the winning goal (by Earnshaw) was put in.”
Did this game live up to the rivalry?
“It’s a great rivalry. Portland came in and played well. It does live up. We’ll take the result and performance, but will go back to work next week. We need to improve a lot but the fans have gone home happy today.”
Thoughts on his game-winning goal:
“It was amazing. Even with the length of time I’ve been playing football, that feeling when the ball hits the net, oh my god, it’s the best. It’s the best. Within those two and a half seconds, in my mind it was like three minutes because I have to know what to do, when to do it and react to what he was doing. I had a few options. I had time. The best option was what happened.”
On his post match John Cena celebration:
“I didn’t know what to do. I was so emotional. I was so happy, I kind of lost myself a little bit. That’s a credit to everybody here.”
On the team’s overall play:
“I have to point out that, yes, I scored the winner but it’s not possible if Pedro Morales doesn’t see me, or David Ousted doesn’t make a save maybe a minute earlier, the defending, and the amount of work we put in. All of these things – that’s the game that I see out there, so credit to the whole team. It wasn’t a good performance because we can do better. We can keep the ball better, we can dictate more, there’s a lot more to come from this team. When we can do this and win in that way when we feel like there’s a lot more to come from the tank, that’s a good foundation to have.”
On his conversation with Robinson before going on:
“Carl was just telling me that as soon as I came on, he just felt like I was going to score. It’s a debut and I was going to score. I was thinking I just needed one chance. It’s amazing because the amount of times you see debuts happen to go your way in games especially when it’s focused on one player, what an amazing feeling. I was just hoping to get on the pitch.”
On playing in front of Whitecaps fans:
“That was an amazing atmosphere to play in. I’ve played in a lot of different countries, with the national team and in the Premier League, what a great atmosphere. Credit to the fans. Thank you because I was looking around and they’re singing, I thought this was really, really nice. What a great atmosphere to play in as a player to see that and to feel that energy from the fans. It goes a long way. Players appreciate it because when I got on, I got excited because of the atmosphere. When the fans are behind us, it really plays a part. Sometimes it gets underestimated that the fans play a role on how the players play. Credit to the fans today, they were brilliant, awesome, and really helped the team.”
On the overall game:
“Pleased with the three points, not pleased with how we got them. There’s a lot of work to be done and we’re going in to a week now where we got to look at some stuff to be better.”
On his important saves:
“I’m happy with my performance today. I gave us a chance to win it and that’s why I’m in there. I’m delighted to see Earnie [Earnshaw] get that goal. It shows what a composed player he is and he’s a great addition to our team.”
On Robert Earnshaw’s game-winning goal:
“Fantastic. I was thinking another week, another steal in the 90th minute. It won’t always be pretty but if we can get away with three points in these games, it’s looking good.”
On young teammates [Deybi and Kianz]:
“Fantastic. I think Kianz has come in a couple of times and shown how good a player he is. Comes in and takes responsibility and works a lot. Deybi I was impressed with, young guy, making runs from midfield. I thought he did really well.”
On Portland’s control in the second half:
“I think we lacked both composure on the ball and pressure on the ball. They did really well keeping it and playing around us but we’re a better team than what we showed today, both in the pressing and with the ball and that’s some of the things that we need to work on.”
Thoughts on the game:
“Happy. Happy for the first goal of the season. I’m happy for the three points.”
On the free kick given, which led to his goal:
“I’ve been training a lot. I’ve been training a lot on free kicks. The first free kick was for Pedro, and I said “Okay, the second is mine.” I’m happy for the chance for a free kick in the game and I scored as well so I’m very happy for that.”
On Earnshaw’s debut goal:
“When playing bad, this team is important because we have big players forward so in any moment we can score, because we have Octavio. He’s shown the last two games he can score in the last minute. The forwards are important players so we can score in any moment.”
On Portland’s defence:
“They are strong. They are experienced players. They have a big team and are very good players.”
How did you see that last Vancouver goal develop?:
“It was a counter, we dominated the game and were far and away the better team. I thought it was tough to give up the first goal that was against the run. I think they had three shots in the first half and two of them were dead balls. We played outstanding but we gave up the goal and that happens; our response was good. We pushed in the second half; I thought we dominated the ball and deserved a level goal and should’ve scored a winning goal. We had a couple of chances like the one their goalkeeper saved on Adi. If we score that we probably come away with the three points. As it turns out they come down the other end, and Earnshaw makes a good run and a good finish.
“You have credit them, certainly today, for getting the three points. They defended well but I thought our guys dominated the game and played well. I don’t know how we didn’t win; I really don’t. This is the sport, and sometimes it’s cruel. I haven’t seen us dominate a game on the road like this since I’ve been here. It was probably the best game I’ve seen our team play in terms of flow and control and final third entries. We should have scored a few more goals with as much possession as we had. It is what it is. I think it’s a bit unfair for our guys; they deserved better but you’ve got to move on. We’ll get ready for next week against Dallas at home. We’ve got two games at home and have to have a short memory on this one.”
Is this one of the most frustrating games you’ve been a part of?:
“Yeah probably because of the way we played. I didn’t think it was fair based on how well we played, but again you have to credit Vancouver. They’ve been getting results and finding a way to win games like this by defending and countering. We knew what type of game we were going to be in and you have credit them for finding a way to get three points.”
On what’s next:
“Move on to the next game. Keep playing that way – it’s simple. Obviously we need to get a bit better quality in the final third because as much as we dominated we should’ve scored two, three, four goals – no doubt about it – and the few chances they had we have to do better on. First goal I thought was a soft goal.”
On Urruti up top:
“It’s a combination we haven’t had so much time to work on, but today we were not able to create a lot in the first half. But we were able to play and this is a step forward. I think it’s just a combination we need to work on, playing more together.”
On the key to scoring goals:
“It’s football. Today we can say the better team lost the game. Of course it’s all about winning. If we are not able to win we are not the better team, so that’s all we can say: they are the better team and that’s why they won.”
On going up against Kah and Waston:
“I’ve played a couple of times with them. I think it’s pretty much physical. I think they are the most physical to play against in the whole league. I can turn around them. So it’s just something we’ve got to look into, if he doesn’t call my fouls and he calls the same fouls against their striker, it’s just something I can’t control. What I can control is how I play my game. They played well and defended well and cut our crosses. They are good defenders.”
On taking the positives:
“We take a lot of positives out of it. We know Vancouver is a tough team to play against, and it’s always a fight to come in here to play them out rightly. We possessed the game, we created more chances, we did everything more than they had but unfortunately they scored two goals and we just scored one goal. We take a lot of positives things out of this game; we just need to forget about it as soon we can and focus on the next game.”
On being concerned about playing well and not getting the result:
“No, I’m not. I think good teams like this are eventually going to find a way and we’re going catch our stride and we’re going to get that first win. It’s going to come soon and once we do I think it’s going to give us a lot of confidence going into the rest of the games.”
On taking the positives:
“This is a results business of course and we’re disappointed that we lost the game. But we do acknowledge that a lot of guys stepped up and played very well.”