Report and Reaction: It’s Tico Time in Vancouver as Waston steers Whitecaps to vital victory over Atlanta

Report and Reaction: It’s Tico Time in Vancouver as Waston steers Whitecaps to vital victory over Atlanta

After a couple of disappointing results the Whitecaps returned to winning ways beating expansion club Atlanta United 3-1, led by a brace from Kendall Waston, after the visitors had taken an early lead through Greg Garza. Fredy Montero added an insurance goal in the second half to give Vancouver a vital victory over a dangerous Atlanta side.

Garza’s goal came in the seventh minute when he found himself free at the far post, banging in a cross from Julian Gressel.

Waston would score his first of the night just after the half hour mark when he took a cross from Andrew Jacobsen brought the ball to his feet and scored to tie the match. It was fantastic control for a big centre back more known for his headed clearances at the other end of the pitch.

The Costa Rican would pick up the eventual winner 13 minutes later, heading in a Cristian Techera corner past a diving Alec Kann just before the interval.

The second half saw the Whitecaps with a number of opportunities to extend the lead with Montero heading over, Bolaños missing the net on a break, and Waston just missing on getting a hat trick with a header that flashed past the right post.

Vancouver were finally able to get the third killer goal in the 68th minute off another corner, with Montero smashing in a rebound after Kann denied a header from Tim Parker that may have gone over the line to begin with. The Colombian is getting the credit for the goal anyway, at least for now, ending a five game streak without finding the net. A weight off his mind for sure.

The remainder of the second half saw the Whitecaps keep the attack of Atlanta at bay and pick up their sixth win of season, with the only worry they really had coming when Waston headed a shot off the line, before referee Robert Sibiga pointed to the spot and awarded a penalty after Montero was sent crashing in the box.

Turned out the referee got confused which way the Whitecaps were shooting and quickly changed his mind, awarding a free kick to Vancouver instead!

With the three points, the ‘Caps have moved into fifth spot in the Western Conference as they now take a week off, due to the international break, before returning to BC Place to face FC Dallas on June 17.

FINAL SCORE: Vancouver Whitecaps 3 – 1 Atlanta United

ATT: 19,816

VANCOUVER: David Ousted; Sheanon Williams, Kendall Waston, Tim Parker, Jordan Harvey; Matías Laba; Cristian Techera (Alphonso Davies 76), Andrew Jacobson, Tony Tchani, Christian Bolaños (Marcel de Jong 90); Fredy Montero (Brek Shea 81) [Substitutes not used: Paolo Tornaghi, Russell Teibert, Jake Nerwinski, Mauro Rosales]

ATLANTA: Alec Kann; Tyrone Mears, Michael Parkhurst (Anton Walkes 78), Leandro Gonzalez Pirez, Greg Garza; Jeff Larentowicz (Kenwyne Jones 67), Carlos Carmona; Julian Gressel, Miguel Almiron, Yamil Asad; Victor Villalba [Substitutes not used: Kyle Reynish, Kevin Kratz, Harrison Heath, Chris McCann, Mark Bloom]




Thoughts on the hype around Atlanta and the match:

“Well, the talk is right because we know they’ve spent a lot of money, but they are top players. You know, the front forward they had today, we knew he would cause us problems and I think you saw in the first 10 minutes we were a little bit disjointed, we gave away a silly goal, a good goal on their behalf. They caught us in the transition, we didn’t recover properly and the fullback taps the ball in at the back post. I thought, character wise, from the first goal we conceded, we responded very well. We kept ourselves calm, we didn’t get caught up. You know, it’s easy when you’re at home to play ‘gung-ho’ and if you do that against them, they pick you off because they are really excellent with the ball. I thought it may come down to set pieces and I was right.”

On Kendall Waston’s performance:

“I’d prefer it if he heads it in, to be honest. I thought he had waited too long, but it was a good goal, he controlled it well and I think if you ask him he will tell you that he has played centre forward in Costa Rica prior to coming, so he won’t play centre forward here.”

On whether this was Waston’s best performance:

“I think Kendall’s been, I don’t want to use ‘absolutely’ but I will, absolutely excellent since the start of the season. He’s been very mature, he’s 29 years of age and I think the responsibility he’s taken on board from being captain, I think he’s grown into that role. He’s been a monster for us, he really has and this was another strong performance from him, as well as Tim [Parker]. They’ve got a really good relationship there, back with David behind them. You might get side-tracked because he scores two goals, there’s other games where he’s been phenomenal for us. I wouldn’t want any other player when the ball is coming in the box, especially when you’re defending a lead, and time and time again today he’s shown how crucial he is for us.”

On how defence coped with the danger of a strong Atlanta attack:

“I thought they coped very well. I just said to them in there, the character they showed after going 1-0 down I thought was phenomenal. And the information they took on board this week, we’ve had a short week because we’ve been in Montreal in the Canadian Championship and some guys stayed behind, but we prepared over the last 48 hours. Little bits of details we took on board. If you let Atlanta play, the coach is renowned for playing excellent football and we saw that today. You have to try and stop them at certain times. If you try to stop them all the time, you’ll get picked off, and even when you do go, you still get picked off. You’ve got to be patient when you don’t have the ball. I stressed that to the guys this week and they took the information on board. So they deserve all the credit today. It’s all about them. Obviously, you’ll pick on the goalscorers, but from one to 11, they were excellent, and we deserved the three points.”

Is there anything different with this group that they’re facing adversity a little bit better?:

“I think we’re stronger mentally. I genuinely believe that. It’s a difficult place to come and play here sometimes, but away teams over the last 18 months have enjoyed coming here. It takes a certain type of person and player to play in this environment, in front of the home fans, and bit by bit, I’ve managed to alter the roster and bring in a group of players. I’m still missing eight, nine players. You don’t hear me shout it from the rooftops, but there’s some more additions to come, which are exciting. The mentality of the group is really, really strong. The character is really strong. And we’ll get it right sometimes, and we’ll get it wrong. This time last week I was sitting here and we got it wrong. We picked up no points, through no fault but our own for missing chances. Today we got it right, but as long as they keep an even head when things go against them, or they get excited, we’ll be ok.”

Did the referee explain about the penalty that wasn’t a penalty:

“I did, and it was a great explanation. I really appreciated it, because as a coach you get uptight. You’re in the emotion of the game and all you want is an explanation – whether it’s right or wrong. If they give you an explanation, you can accept it. You can tell them they’re wrong and call them all the names under the sun, or you can accept it. Robert did. He said Fredy Montero’s a striker and he went down and he gave a penalty. I said, but it was a foul in our box, and he said, yes, that’s why he reversed the decision. It was a great explanation and I left it at that.”

On the ‘Caps rising to the stronger teams but their performance dropping to the level of the weaker ones:

“It’s been labelled at us before and I can’t sit here and say there is no coincidence in it. Big games, we do rise. We need to be consistent in the games that aren’t on paper so-called big games. I totally agree. I don’t know why, whether it’s the personnel, but we need to find solutions to change that, because if we don’t, we’ll drop too many points and the West is tough. Everyone beats everyone, but we need to make sure that this year we do take care of every single team that comes in to BC Place and become a strong team. Barring the first two games of the season at home, where we underperformed for various reasons, no excuses, I think we’ve been performing very, very well and that includes D.C., where I thought we battered them and picked up no points.”


On his last goal with his feet:

“In Costa Rica. So it’s a long time ago. But I’m very happy that I can help the team to win this game. And the most important thing is that everybody worked very hard and we did a great job today.”

On his first goal in the match:

“I saw AJ [Andrew Jacobson] in his body position that he was going to throw the ball back, so I ran back so I wasn’t being offside, and at the moment I just needed to chest it and just kick it. So I feel very happy that I can score.”

On responding from giving up the first goal:

“They scored the first goal, we kept playing our same style and we felt confident that in some stage of the game we can come back. And hopefully in any set piece because we knew we were practising very hard during the week [on] all the set pieces and the transition game. So we felt very proud of that, what the coaches and the staff tell us to do, we did it and that won us the game.”

On if this was his biggest performance in a Whitecaps FC kit:

“I don’t know, I just go to the field and try to do my best. I think just to help the team, obviously if you play good you help the team. The most important thing here is that everybody thinks collectively. We know that if every individual does their job very good, the team is going to be affected in a positive way.”

On injuries on the team and the international break coming at the right time:

“Well yes, I think all the guys that are injured can get their time to prepare themselves and recover very well. So hopefully we don’t get more injuries and get everyone to 100 per cent.”

On who had the bigger day, Kendall or Costa Rican national teammate Keylor Navas:

“Keylor now, definitely. Winning the Champions League, you don’t win it every day. And now he has two Champions League, so all of Costa Rica is very proud of him.”

On a letdown on weaker teams, and being better vs. stronger teams:

“I just think that we try to play every game in an intense way that we want to win. It doesn’t matter against who we play, but every game is different and obviously every time you step on the field you want to do your best and try to win the game, that’s the most important thing.”

On who scored the last goal:

“Here it doesn’t matter who scored. The thing is, we score and win this game because at the end of the game, nobody wins the game but the team. Here the most important thing is the team.”


On Atlanta’s style:

“I’m proud of our team today, looking against the quality of players Atlanta has it’s not easy to come back. I mean we knew they were going to attack, they were going to look for the game, to win the game, and that gave us some spaces. For us was good scoring goals from set pieces and we knew during the week that was going to be a key for us to win the game.”

On getting back on the scoring sheet:

“Yeah it’s good. Of course the feeling after scoring goals is good. I like to have that momentum, so I want to stretch it this time even more than the last game when I was scoring goals and I was on fire. But to be honest I’m happy for the team, we got another three points at home.”

On making sure Parker’s header was in:

“Well after the goalkeeper, I was the second player close to the ball and I knew the ball wasn’t in 100 per cent and I just tried to score that goal.”

On Kendall’s first goal:

“Especially coming from that big body, doing one touch, two touch to put the ball down and then finish it. That was a good move right there and we’re proud that that goal gave us motivation to come back and keep fighting for the game, keep fighting for the second goal, and he got the second one too.”

On playing up for big opponents and playing down for weaker opponents:

“To be honest that’s something you see really often in the MLS. It’s not such that the best team is going to win every single game. Sometimes that happens when the team at the bottom of the table goes in and wins against the other team at home. For us it’s just to try to be consistent and build that balance between having not many goals in our end and scoring more goals when we have the opportunity. Today was a good game for us and I’m happy to contribute with one more goal.”



On conceding goals on set pieces against the ‘Caps:

“We couldn’t control Waston. I think he was the difference in a game that we controlled and maintained possession, but he was a physical factor.”

On limiting Miguel Almiron’s chances in the match:

“We saw that they had three holding midfielders in the centre of the pitch: Jacobson, Laba, and Tchani. We had to get through that first defensive wall and I think in the initial stages of the game we managed to do that well and managed to score a good goal. But I think most of today’s loss can be attributed to set pieces.”

On what you can do tactically to negate player’s the size of Waston in future games:

“There aren’t many players like Waston in the league. Waston is a player that causes problems for a lot of teams, not just Atlanta.”


On his first goal:

“It feels great. It’s tough getting a first goal and then having everything turned upside down. But it feels good to get a goal with these colours, with these stripes, and hopefully I can get some more, and statistically more assists and goals in the future. But I think at the end of the day, our heads are down for the loss.”

On how to regroup:

“We have to turn the page as quickly as possible and focus on Chicago as quickly as possible as well. Start looking at their virtues and what they’re good at, and hopefully we can use the same game we did against them at the beginning of the season.”

On what happened to the team’s patience to build from the back:

“I think we did build from the back from what I saw. I think we emphasized on this week not receiving a goal on set pieces, and we received three goals today on set pieces. You know that’s pretty unfortunate for us, but I think we still tried to emphasize our game as much as possible. We still tried to play out of the back, we still tried to play our game. But it’s just difficult. You have a team that was very well organized, so you can’t be scored on three times on set pieces defensively. So we’ll have to regroup, as I said turn the page as quickly as possible and focus on next week.”

On if there was a lack of communication on set piece defending:

“No. We probably went through about 15 different videos this week about how well they are on free kicks, but I just don’t know what happened to us. We just couldn’t execute defensively, and it’s very unfortunate for us to really give up those three goals. And it was one player every single time, so we’ll definitely have to turn the page on that as quickly as possible and kind of forget everything that happened today and focus on next week.”

On dropping points on the west coast for the first time:

“I think in this league anything can happen. It doesn’t matter. I mean the team we played today could lose next week 5-0 to the team we beat 4-1 last week. So I mean anything can happen in this league. These are all obviously long trips but we’re used to it, we’ve done it before, and [we] just have to keep staying positive.”

On the problem that Kendall Waston poses:

“I mean you’re able to see the problems he caused us. So it’s pretty obvious with three goals him being involved that it’s very difficult to tally with a guy that tall and that well in the air. But it is what it is. We can’t go back and change our actions. As I said, we went through how many videos, so it’s pretty disappointing that after all the videos we’d gone over we still go through that and suffer three goals defensively.”


On the three goals:

“We didn’t do a good enough job obviously. The first one we push out but we don’t stay organized and they get a second ball. Waston is a beast in the air on the headers, we try to have a guy in the zone marking him but he’s very good. Obviously we paid the price, we gave up too many set pieces to him, too many corners, too many opportunities to them. We knew that was a strength for them and a weakness for us and we got punished today.”

On west coast games:

“Thankfully we don’t have any more so like you said, we did a good job picking up some of those points on the west coast games, now we’ve got a lot more home games and we have to take advantage of that.”

On dominating possession not translating to scoresheet:

“We knew we would it was our strength and their strength was the counter attack and the set pieces, and their strength won out today. They were very organized defensively, the dry turf made it very difficult for us to play quickly, to play through lines. We weren’t good enough defending their strengths.”

On the marking on Almiron:

“They had a guy always aware of his whereabouts. We didn’t do a good enough job of getting him in the game. That being said, he almost scored a goal in the second half on a good chance. For us in the back it was difficult for us to get him the ball from the back line because of the dry turf. We need to do a better job of getting him and the rest of offensive guys in good spots.”

On Chicago next week:

“I have paid attention. They’re a very different team than last time we played them and we were up a man for 80 minutes, so it will be a difficult game. They’re high on confidence, playing well. I’m impressed with not only their results but the way they’ve been playing. They’re a confident group and Schweinsteiger has brought that with him and it’ll be a tough intra-conference battle but we’ll be ready for it.”

Authored by: Steve Pandher

AFTN Soccer Show co-host and Senior Writer

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.