Perhaps fittingly, Vancouver Whitecaps ended their 2019 MLS season as they had begun – with a disappointing home loss to a Western Conference rival.
This time they dropped a narrow 1-0 decision to a playoff advancing RSL in a match that hardly set the hearts racing at BC Place on Sunday afternoon.
The solitary goal came midway through the first half from RSL’s Damir Kreilach, with Nick Rimando picking up the cleansheet in his last ever regular season MLS match before his retiral at the end of the campaign.
An early header from Tosaint Ricketts to the far post and a shot before the half hour mark were the ‘Caps best chances in the opening half.
But it was the visitors who made one of their few opportunities in the first 45 count when Kreilach headed in an uncontested Corey Baird cross to put RSL up at half time.
Rimando made a big stop in the opening 10 minutes of the second as he stretched to the right post to deny a Chirinos header, then with just over 20 minutes to go the ‘Caps came within inches of tying it up when Chirinos again was sent in on Rimando, but the RSL keeper got his fingertips to the ball directing it off the post.
Five minutes later it was Crepeau’s turn when he was able to close the wickets on a shot from Baird, just outside the six yard area, and followed up with another in close stop off of Rusnak.
But that was to be it for the action. After a promising run-in that had seen the Whitecaps unbeaten in three matches, posting two wins in the process, this was a disappointing way to send the fans home for what will be a long five month offseason.
There’s a lot of time to look at the rebuilding job ahead for Marc Dos Santos, so we’ll cover that in the weeks and months to come.
For RSL, the victory secured at least one home playoff game in the new look MLS playoff bracket, and they will face off against Portland Timbers in two weeks time.
FINAL SCORE: Vancouver Whitecaps 0 – 1 Real Salt Lake
VANCOUVER: Maxime Crépeau; Érik Godoy, Doneil Henry, Derek Cornelius, Ali Adnan; Inbeom Hwang, Andy Rose, Russell Teibert; Theo Bair (Yordy Reyna 60), Tosaint Ricketts (Fredy Montero 61), Michaell Chirinos (Georges Mukumbilwa 81) [Substitutes not used: Zac MacMath, Jon Erice, Scott Sutter, Victor “PC” Giro]
SALK LAKE: Nick Rimando; Aaron Herrera, Justen Glad, Nedum Onuoha, Donny Toia; Everton Luiz, Kyle Beckerman; Jefferson Savarino (Brooks Lennon 84), Albert Rusnak (Kelyn Rowe 84), Corey Baird (Marcelo Silva 89); Damir Kreilach [Substitutes not used: Andrew Putna, Joao Plata, Sebastian Saucedo, Sam Johnson]
Possession: VAN 44.4% – RSL 55.6%
Shots: VAN 16 – RSL 16
Shots on Goal: VAN 5 – RSL 4
Saves: VAN 3 – RSL 5
Fouls: VAN 7 – RSL 11
Offsides: VAN 1 – RSL 0
Corners: VAN 5 – RSL 4
MARC DOS SANTOS
On today’s loss:
“Salt Lake played a playoff game. They were deep and dangerous in the counter. We deserved a goal, we deserved at least a point. We did enough for that in the second half. We didn’t have the spark, a little bit of luck especially some balls that Yordy got in the box and could’ve laid it faster. Erik Godoy, big chance. Michaell Chirinos, big chance, so that’s the game.”
On preparing for next season:
“For next season, after a year like that, just imagine the work and the commitment happening right now in the back scenes. The commitment, the work, the pieces that are happening in the back scene, the thought process, the moves are huge right now. And huge because of the fans. As the coach, I’m with the GM, the owners, the staff. The only thing in my head right now, from the bottom of my heart, is the people that are coming to the stadium every day and support this team. We have to give back.”
On how to bounce back next year:
“You need to adapt a little bit as a coach. You have to take the good things. The problem with majority of the media or fans, it’s good, then after four losses, then it’s not good anymore, then there’s no identity. There are a lot of good things that you can take away.”
On positives from this year:
“After what happened at the end of the season, I feel that this is the base, this is where we need to be stronger. There’s something now to build on. When I arrived, I didn’t feel the same. There has been work done for the window much earlier, there are people that are working to make the roster better. Not only the staff, there are a lot of people in the backstage helping out so all that’s in place right now gives me a lot of hope for the future. Understand one thing, this is a very difficult division and it’s going to take more for the next step.”
On roster changes:
“There are pieces for us that are crucial and we’re working hard on them. We have to see. Maybe there’s opportunity that are going to come with players that we think, this is part of the core but we don’t know how other teams are thinking. Maybe there are players that today we think are going to keep, then there’s something that happens in the market that makes us move because it’s the best thing for the club. What I want us to focus on as a club is on making the team better. Whatever it takes to make the team better.”
Reflections on the season:
“We all know statistically how this season went, but if you dig deeper and you look deeper, this was a season of ups and downs. But we’re building something here. This was always a rebuild year, and we’re going to continue to grow. That’s the message with this team, we will continue to grow. We know we have stuff to work on, and we’re going to do that. We’re going to address those things in the offseason and we’re going to come back stronger.”
On a career high in starts and the future:
“I’m very happy to be here, very happy to be playing with this team. I’ve made some very good friends within this team. I want to keep building those relationships. I truly enjoy being a Vancouver Whitecap and I want to continue to be.”
On establishing a winning mentality:
“We’re growing here, and this is a rebuild year. I can’t say there is one specific thing that we need to address. There’s multiple things that we need to address, but again, we’re growing. And we know as an organization what those things are. We have to trust the organization as a whole that those things will get done and everybody just needs to do their job. We need to take care of our business on the field, and it’s as simple as that.”
On fan support and the end of this season:
“The fans were there all year long. Win, lose, tie, home, and away, they were always there. It’s important for me that I stay behind to say hi to each and every single one of them … It’s true, at the end of the day, I didn’t want the season to end. I feel like I can give so much, so that’s why I have that feeling. It’s not cool, obviously.”
On his individual progress compared to the team’s results this season:
“On a personal note, it was important for me to come here in the preseason prepared to fight for the opportunity to play some MLS games. That opportunity came, and I had to step up, and respond to the call where if I need to keep my team in the game all year long, I will do it, and I’ll put the work in. [On] the collective side, it’s difficult because I do whatever I can to help this team, and at the end of the day, we’re at the bottom of the West. It’s the reality. I’ve said it pretty much all year … we know the reality, we’re not hiding anything, and it’s difficult for me because I wanted to give so much more to my teammates, to the organization, to the fans, to everyone. So, yes it’s a good year to start, but now I need to prove [myself] every year. That’s my mentality. How can I be better for next year, and so on.”
On the team’s journey from preseason to present:
“Starting the year, we didn’t even really know each other to be honest with you. [We were] all new faces, including me. We started pretty slow, and then we found a little bit of rhythm, and while we had that break in the month of June, June [and] July killed us, and after that, a little bit better, and after that, we were actually good if you see the last four [games]. But it was a season filled with ups and downs, definitely.”
REAL SALT LAKE
INTERIM HEAD COACH FREDDY JUAREZ
On finishing third in the Western Conference:
“I felt that we were in control of the game for most of the match. There were some scary moments there at the end. We knew we were going to get some flurry from the opponent and it came towards the end but we handled it well. Credit to the guys, they believed, they fought. Results went our way.”
On the clean sheet:
“We knew they were going to respond. We wanted to make sure there was discipline, we maintained and controlled for the most part. The guys that came in helped us close the game out and just gave us some energy in those last 10 minutes.”
On getting homefield advantage in the playoffs:
“It’s awesome for the players. They deserve a home crowd to back them up going into the playoffs and give us that extra spark that we need. Hopefully we can take advantage. Let’s not let it go to waste.”
On the game-winning goal:
“Damir did a great job just keeping it alive. Kyle found me out wide. There was a little space back there and Damir made a great run.”
On the clean sheet:
“We did well sitting in. We made sure our shape was good. The guys off the bench gave us some life, gave us some energy.”
On finishing third in the Western Conference:
“It shows you we’re a good team. No one has given us that, we had to earn it and I think we have.”