Gutting? Disappointing? Their own fault?
All three of those probably apply to Vancouver Whitecaps agonising 2-1 loss to New York City FC at BC Place on Saturday night.
It was a tale of two penalties and the referee becoming the talking point, sparking some angry scenes from the ‘Caps camp at the final whistle.
The visitor’s win came in the death throws of the match. Hopefully it didn’t also signal the death throws of the ‘Caps Supporters’ Shield hopes in the process.
The Whitecaps currently sit first in the West but are only four points off sixth. What a final month of the regular season this is now shaping up to be.
REPORT (by Steve Pandher):
It took 45 minutes for the Whitecaps to get over the star power of their opponents but the damage was done in the first half with Frank Lampard’s strike being the initial difference maker in a 2-1 New York City win.
The two clubs exchanged questionable penalties in the final minutes of the match, with Pedro Morales converting for the ‘Caps and David Villa getting the winner so deep into stoppage time.
While New York controlled the majority of the opening minutes of the match, with shots from Lampard and Mix Diskerud being blocked, it was Kekuta Manneh who had the best chance when a cross into the box was chested down by Cristian Techera to Manneh but his shot from a tight angle was smothered by Josh Saunders via a deflection and a rebound off the near post.
It would be the visitors though, just before the half hour mark, who would open the scoring as Frank Lampard scored his second of the season. After taking a pass down the left channel from Andrea Pirlo, Angelino cut back a pass to an open Lampard who made no mistake beating Ousted.
The Whitecaps had their chance to equalize before the half when Darren Mattocks was sent in on goal but the striker was unable to control the ball and get a shot off.
Vancouver showed some urgency in the opening five minutes of the second half and came close on a chance when Kendall Waston’s header from a Rosales free kick was stopped by Saunders.
The Whitecaps came close again just after the hour mark when Manneh’s shot from outside the box missed the goal by a few feet.
With twenty minutes to go Ousted had to come big again when he smothered a heavy shot from David Villa.
A few minutes later saw the Caps get their best chance of the night when a pass from the byeline was sitting at the edge of the six yard box but Jordan Harvey got under the shot sending it over the bar.
The 74th minute saw Vancouver come close again when substitute Octavio Rivero almost connected with a Jordan Smith cross, sending it over the bar.
Both teams saved the night’s best entertainment for the final ten minutes of the match as the game opened up.
With two minutes remaining in normal time, the Whitecaps finally got on the board when Pedro Morales converted a disputed penalty.
A long distance rocket from Jordan Smith was stopped by Saunders spilling the ball into the direction of Waston but before he could attempt a shot he was brought down and won the foul.
The remaining minutes saw Whitecaps have their chances to get the three points with the best one coming in the final minute when an in close header from Morales was stopped by Saunders at point blank range on his line.
All the missed chances proved to be costly for the ‘Caps when they conceded a penalty at the death, which was converted by David Villa.
A clearing attempt was intercepted by Lampard who made his way into the box but was challenged by Matias Laba, who despite making no contact with the player was called for the foul in the box.
It was a crushing blow to end the game, as referee Ricardo Salazar become the post game talking point, but ultimately it was Vancouver’s inability to take their chances that cost them the most.
The Whitecaps will now have to win away from home if they wish to break their two game losing streak when they visit San Jose next Saturday. Vancouver currently hold an eight point gap over San Jose, but that could be five by the times the team meet, raising the stakes significantly in this one.
FINAL SCORE: Vancouver Whitecaps 1 – 2 New York City
ATT: 21,000 (sell-out)
VANCOUVER: David Ousted; Jordan Smith, Kendall Waston, Tim Parker, Jordan Harvey; Matias Laba, Gershon Koffie (Pedro Morales 67), Christian Techera, Mauro Rosales (Robert Earnshaw 80), Kekuta Manneh; Darren Mattocks (Octavio Rivero 69) [Substitutions Not Used: Paolo Tornaghi, Sam Adekugbe, Pa-Modou Kah, Russell Teibert]
NEW YORK: Josh Saunders; RJ Allen, Shay Facey, Jason Hernandez (Patrick Mullins 90), Angelino; Andrew Jacobsen, Andrea Pirlo, Mix Diskerud (Kwadwo Poku 90), Frank Lampard, Ned Grabavoy (Khiry Shelton 75); David Villa [Substitutions Not Used: Ryan Meara, Mehdi Ballouchy, Jefferson Mena, Andoni Iraola]
On NYC’s winning penalty:
“He’s got the ball and I think everybody in the stadium can see it. I don’t know whether he’s felt it was a make up call or whatever. The game’s about tackling, the game’s about contact. Mati Laba is one of the best players in that position. He’s clearly won the ball. What can you say?”
On the ‘Caps penalty award:
“I think there was a couple of corners coming in, free kicks coming in and Kendall’s a big guy. I think we was pulled down twice… but I don’t know, he went to shoot and then pulled back. As I said at the start, whether he felt it was a make up call, I don’t know. Two wrongs don’t make a right.”
On head of PRO Peter Walton being in attendance:
“Peter said to me before the game that he’d spoke to the guys about letting the players play, so yeah, great.”
Overall thoughts on the game:
“The first half I felt we played with a bit of fear against them and they probably deserved to get ahead. Second half I thought we got right at them and created chance after chance after chance and nothing fell for us and we got our penalty. Then when it went to one-one, they need to win and, credit to Jason [Kreis] for that, they went all guns blazing, leaving it wide open. We had [breaks of] 3 v 2, 4 v 2, 3 v 1 and we didn’t put it away, and then the call at the end is crazy.”
On what ultimately cost them the game:
“We didn’t score enough goals tonight. We were never ahead, that’s the thing. We managed to claw our way back, and deservedly so, and we probably should have gone ahead but just made wrong decisions. We’ve got to learn from that because we’ve made a number of wrong decisions in games this year and it’s cost us.”
On the difference between first and second half performances:
“We probably played as poorly as we have all season in the first half. I don’t think we clicked, we made wrong decisions, we were hesitant. When you do that against a very good team, you’re always going to give yourself problems. We made wrong passes, we made wrong decisions, we miscontrolled the ball. I just said ‘tidy up and keep your mind free’. We couldn’t be as bad as we were in the first half and we weren’t and we were better in the second but that’s no consolation because we get nothing out of the game.”
On Jesse Marsch’s comments about not caring about Supporters’ Shield:
“I focus on my team and trying to build my team and grow with my team. Putting in performances every week. I can only focus on the performance here. Sometimes people get carried away with what we’re going for. We’re just trying to finish as high as we can. We’ve never ever been in the equation for the Supporters’ Shield [before]. We’re close-ish today but there’s a number of other teams, eight or ten, that can probably go and do it as well. So we don’t lose our focus on that. We’ve got to pick ourselves up now.”
Would he say game was great advert for league?:
“When you play your part but you get nothing out of it because you feel it’s been taken away from you, it’s difficult to say it’s a great advert for the league.”
Thoughts on the match:
“Not good enough. That first half is the poorest I have seen us play, but we were in it. So all in all I can’t complain. We went after it in the second half. We had our chances, but again it’s a tale of if you don’t take your chances you don’t win your games.”
On a frustrating ending:
“It’s devastating. At this point in the season losing it in that way is definitely tough. It’s a bit of a heartbreak. All in all I would say we weren’t good enough today and that showed at the end of the game in the score.”
On playing with fear in first half:
“Yeah and we have no reason to. I think we are a good home team. I think we showed we can go after teams and we had no reason not to go after New York today. But like I said, that first 45 minutes is not acceptable.”
On the final stretch of the season:
“My focus is winning. My focus is winning these last four games we have. I don’t want to have this being the defining moment of the season. We need to push on and we still need to have our ambition. I won’t care about this loss after I digest it today and tomorrow. After that we push on and we still need to win.”
Thoughts on the match:
“Difficult to take. Congratulations to New York City. I thought they played a great game. I was very impressed with them. They applied themselves very well. It was great for us to be very close to world-class players. For me, David Villa is still one of the best strikers in the whole world, never mind MLS. You see him close up and he’s brilliant. Lampard is still class. You can put him straight back into Chelsea’s team if you want. Pirlo, you can stick him straight back into Juventus. These people, the standard of how they play is very professional, but with unbelievable quality and that is why they are who they are. On our part, it was composure I think. We had a few chances during the game, clear cut chances that we should finish or maybe find the right pass and finish the game off. Because we didn’t, they got the chance to get the penalty at the end. It wasn’t a penalty. We as players want to improve and want to get better. Also, how the penalty was given I disagree with it. You can probably say 30,000 people here disagreed with it. I think we lost the game and we are top of the league here. But we are working hard every single week to win this league against world class players. We want it to be in our hands how the league is finished, our journey and our work rate to win this league.”
“We have grown a lot as a team. We are having an unbelievable season. There is no change in that. We are a group that is improving all the time. I thought we were below par today and we could have done much better. But this is why we are here and we recognize and ask ourselves how we can improve from it .That is because the coach sets it up that way and he always wants us to get better as a team, and we will.”
On getting Pedro back:
“I think we don’t want any players injured or out of suspension. We’ve got a very good group. Pedro is a big influence in our dressing room and as a player himself. But we’ve got players who can step in. I was looking at our bench today and thought ‘wow just look at the quality, look at the experience on the bench here.’ We’ve had a lot of games, three games this week, it happens that way. We’re going to miss people, but at the same time we’ve got people who can step right in and do the right thing. That’s why we’re at the top because we have a really great squad and people have stepped in.”
NEW YORK CITY
On being a must-win match:
“In our minds we have to win out, that’s clear in our mind. It’s the only way we have a chance, and then we [still] might not. Really, really pleased with the performance again tonight, so happy with the efforts that’s been put forth and the togetherness that we’ve been showing in a consistent basis.”
Thoughts on the final minutes:
“Mania, pure mania. I honestly feel both penalty kick decisions were very poor. The game should’ve ended one nil in my opinion.”
Thoughts on your DPs:
“I think those guys put on a good show. I think both teams really went after it. I think it was a great game.”
On if things starting to click:
“I think so, I’m looking out there watching the game, I’m seeing a lot of the tactical stuff now happening we’ve been trying to preach now for the better part of the entire season and had to re-preach and re-teach when the new players came in, so really pleased with the performances.”
Thoughts on match:
“We’re happy obviously, it’s a win here, it’s a difficult place to come. Vancouver has had a strong season, it’s big for us, it keeps our hopes alive. I think we’re in a must win situation now for the rest of the season so if we lost those points when they scored the penalty, I think we would’ve been disappointed.”
Playing on turf:
“I enjoyed it, it’s quite a new experience for a few of us. I think its good turf, it plays fair. You adapt slightly, I have to say I found it enjoyable to play on.”
Atmosphere in Vancouver:
“Really good, really good, the stadium’s fantastic. I found the city to be an amazing place for the last couple of days I’ve been here, very welcoming, a great place. I found the atmosphere in the stadium and I found the fans behind their team as they should be.”
Describe your goal:
“I have to say a big thanks to the players who made it. Andrea’s ball was superb, Angelino played a fantastic cross and I arrived at the time and I think it was a very good team goal.”
Thoughts on match:
“It was intense. Vancouver had their chances and I mean they’re going five v. two, two or three times near the end. They looked like they were going to score and then it was kind of back and forth. For me, it looked like none of the penalties were penalties, you could say it evens out or whatever but for us it was a very important win and we’re still alive in the playoffs even though it’s a small chance, but it feels good.”
Did it feel like a must win:
“It looks like us being desperate helps, we’re getting the wins right now and a good streak going. We’ve just got to keep on doing the same thing and getting those. Vancouver is a good team and it was fun to play here, and a great city all the best to them moving forward.”
No goals in open play, is that as satisfying as the win:
“It starts from David Villa up front, he’s a defender as well when we don’t have the ball. For us it’s important to shut down behind there and I think we played as a team and looked well as a team.”