One point from a tough three game road stretch wasn’t exactly unexpected for Vancouver Whitecaps, but that doesn’t make it any the less disappointing.
You can now add an uninspiring 2-0 loss in Colorado to a dull 0-0 draw in Houston and a dismal defeat in Dallas where they clearly were never at the races.
Marlon Hairston gave Colorado the lead a minute before half time, following a first 45 minutes that was devoid of much excitement. When Dominique Badji made it two on the hour mark, it already looked to be game over for Vancouver, and it was.
Vancouver’s starting line-up contained a couple of surprises. David Edgar came in to partner Kendall Waston in the centre of the defence, making his MLS debut. That moved Tim Parker out to the right back role. Giles Barnes came in for a Whitecaps debut, taking up the lone striker role.
There wasn’t much to talk about in the first half, with Pedro Morales having Vancouver’s best chance with a 34th minute free kick that went over.
But just when the teams looked like heading in to the break level, Hairston tucked away a low Mark Burch cross and the home side never looked back. The build up to the goal was aided by Parker, who rashly jumped in, and missed, a tackle, in what was a testing performance for the defender at right back.
Shkelzen Gashi flashed a long range effort just wide for Colorado in the 53rd minute, before Dillon Powers’ header three minutes later forced David Ousted to save on his line.
Vancouver made a double substitution to try and spark some life into their attack, but within seconds they found themselves down by two when Hairston sent a dangerous ball across goal and Badji lost Parker to hit if past Ousted from close range and make it 2-0.
Parker headed a corner towards goal midway through the half, but Tim Howard easily held onto what was Vancouver’s best chance of the night so far.
Colorado kept pressing, going for the jugular, and Gashi had another fierce long range effort go wide before Ousted was forced to save from Hairston at his near post with 15 minutes remaining.
The Rapids had a couple of other half chances, but the Whitecaps couldn’t muster anything and the home side ran out very comfortable 2-0 winners in the end, with Howard barely breaking a sweat in the Colorado goal.
When a 15-year-old was one of your brightest sparks during the match, then you have to sense that something is not right with your team. Unless that team is a U16 side.
Vancouver have been very, very poor on this road spell. I know it’s testing conditions, but that’s the nature of the league and you can’t handle it, then you need to get players who can.
The Whitecaps right now feel like a team of individuals, with Carl Robinson trying to fit in the best players he can, no matter where they end up playing on the pitch. Morales has looked at his best this season slotted in beside Matias Laba. He needs to drop back to allow Nicolas Mezquida the start at the number 10 position, although that is a role badly needing upgraded this offseason.
The loss sees Vancouver hanging on to that sixth and final playoff spot in the West by the slightest fingernail. They could very easily have dropped out of it by the end of the weekend and the home game with chasing San Jose on Friday night is massive. With some more tough road games ahead, it really is a must win.
FINAL SCORE: Colorado Rapids 2 – 0 Vancouver Whitecaps
COLORADO: Tim Howard; Eric Miller, Bobby Burling, Axel Sjoberg, Marc Burch; Dillon Powers, Sam Cronin, Marlon Hairston (Marco Pappa 84), Shkelzen Gashi (Jared Watts 90+1), Dominique Badji (Sebastian Le Toux 74); Kevin Doyle [Subs Not Used: Zac MacMath, Dennis Castillo, Joseph Greenspan, Mekeil Williams]
VANCOUVER: David Ousted; Tim Parker, David Edgar, Kendall Waston, Marcel de Jong; Matias Laba, Andrew Jacobson (Nicolas Mezquida 60), Christian Bolanos (Masato Kudo 78), Pedro Morales, Cristian Techera (Alphonso Davies 60); Giles Barnes [Subs Not Used: Paolo Tornaghi, Cole Seiler, Erik Hurtado, Blas Perez]
Thoughts on tonight’s match:
“Not a good result. Fair play to Colorado, they were a little bit sharper than us from the first whistle. If we had gone into halftime with the scores a little bit different, it might have been a bit different. When we had our play, passages of play, we were unable to score. And we gave away two bad goals. That happens sometimes.”
On how the late first half goal affected them:
“Tough. It totally changed it. They pressed from the first minute. They’re a good team and there’s a reason why they haven’t lost at home yet this year, credit to them. We knew it would be difficult after the week we’ve had, but we managed the game decently and then we switched off in the 44th minute. We’ve got to accept it, we will and we’ll brush ourselves down and be back to work on Monday.”
On the ways the goals were conceded:
“We weren’t as sharp as them so the result was probably fair.”
On being excited about going back home:
“Yes, it feels like about a month since we’ve been home. We’ve been away for ten days so everyone starts to get a bit grouchy. We’ll fly back tomorrow, we’ll have Monday off and get back to it on Tuesday.”
On what’s ailing the attack away from home after four games without a goal on the road:
“I’m not sure. If I had the answer, I’d let you know. You need a little bit of luck sometimes. A couple of balls go across the box, I think we had one or two at the start of the second half and there was no one there. Colorado gets two across the box and scores two. We need to get people in the opposition box and then we need to show a calmer, cooler heads.”
On tonight’s match:
“It was a tough match and we knew that. I thought they did well, they deserved the win today, and they were the better team.”
On containing [Marlon] Hairston defensively:
“He’s a quality player, you can see that. He’s fast, he’s hard working and he gets in good positions so obviously we knew before the game that we had to be aware of him and unfortunately he got through and got a goal in.”
On their recent road trip:
“It’s been one of the tougher; we’ve been away for ten days. We’ve been in Dallas and now the altitude here and I think everyone is looking forward to getting home and re-evaluate things and get back to work Tuesday.”
On the Colorado Rapids defence:
“I think we need to look at the game film and assess what we need to do differently to create more chances.”
On his debut with new club:
“It didn’t go the way we wanted. Coming here we were in great spirits and we had a good week but we didn’t get the result. “
On his adjustment to a new team:
“We’ve had a couple games together. It was a difficult game for us and I don’t think we played particularly well in all areas but we’ve got the next game and that’s what we’re looking forward to.”
On what needs to be changed defensively:
“Just connecting those final passes. We’re a very talented team with talented players but we were just a little but off today. “
On the Rapids holding them back defensively:
“They possess the ball well, at times we didn’t do that. We get back to the drawing board on Monday and Tuesday and working to it on Friday.”
On the biggest thing they need to change before Friday against San Jose:
“We just need to put this behind us. Like I said, we’re a talented team. We know what we’re capable of and today we didn’t show that. We get back home and we show what we’re capable of on Friday.”
On coming back from the loss last week:
“Everyone has doubts as human beings when you get beat up that good regardless of the sport. I think the focus and concentration this week was very similar to those first couple of performances in the year. It was the best week of work that we’ve had all year. So, this result today is a culmination of that. The concentration today was fabulous, the belief in the group is fabulous, the conviction to stay the course and not stop for 90 minutes was tremendous.
“I thought it was our most professional performance of the year. We weren’t naïve defensively. They’re a very good attacking team and we really gave up very little tonight. From Tim Howard to Kevin Doyle and everyone in between, it was probably one of the best performances of the year.”
On [Sébastien] Le Toux’s debut:
“He’s a player that comes in and gives 100%. He won some balls defensively in good spots to break forward. He got in the box quite a few times, we just couldn’t find him. He’s a very good player. He fits right in to the way we want to play, the mentality and his experience. I thought that was a very good shift that he put in for his first time wearing a Rapids jersey.”
On [Marlon] Hairston’s performance:
“I think he’s a young player that’s obviously had some ups and downs over the course of the last couple of years. He’s wanting to assume a lot of the responsibility that it takes to play at this level. What I mean by that is, a guy that comes in to work every day to try to improve his craft. A lot of times young players think it’s going to come naturally. What you’re seeing is a young man that’s growing in to his own game, growing in to this league. An impact player on both sides of the ball, and he’s definitely a player now that, I’ll guarantee you, opposing coaches are talking about when they talk about the Colorado Rapids.”
On the opposition and how their style affects the Rapids:
“All week I reiterated, it’s not what happens to you, it’s how you respond. The same in this game. When you lose the ball, don’t worry about it, there’s got to be a reaction. It’s got to be a positive reaction that inspires your teammates.
“I think tonight, the focal point of our game against Vancouver was the way we pressed. In the early stages of the game, we were able to impose ourselves on them through that. They set up as a really attacking team with some very good technicians, and when they don’t have a lot of the ball, it asks a lot of questions of them defensively. I think that was a big proponent to everything we did tonight. This game is bigger than the results say. For us, it’s a statement to everyone in that locker room that if we continue to work in this fashion, believe in ourselves and fight, we will get to where we want to go.”
His thoughts on the match:
“First, I would like to [give a] big compliment to the team. It was a great performance because last game we lost 5-1 against a good team in New York City. We were in the locker room today before the game and we said that we wanted to make a reaction. Let’s fight for 90 minutes for all the fans in the stadium who believe in this team. I’m proud for this performance for everybody.”
On playing in a more central role:
“For me, it’s important that I have a good conversation with the coach. He said to me, play number 10, I said, no problem I’ve played this a lot of times in my football career. I think today it’s also important that we had good communication on the field. You feel that everyone wanted to win.”
On Marlon [Hairston’s] performance:
“It’s good for him because, for every player, it’s good that they can score and have a good performance. We need everyone, we have a lot of good players on the team. Today, also big compliments to Sébastien [Le Toux]. He came inside and made good movements. I’m very happy for everybody and I think this is a good team spirit for everyone. This is the mentality of the team. We are always together and we fight for 90 minutes.”
On if he wants to continue playing as number 10:
“For me, when I play, I want to help everybody. I want to make everybody better. I’m just an easy player and I’m happy I can play with these players because everyone is a good guy. For me, it’s not a problem if I’m a striker, number 10, 11, 7, I just want to play and give my performance for the team.”
On the spirit to bounce back from the defeat:
“Today, we just came with the same mindset that we’ve had at home thus far this season. We definitely wanted to bounce back from our performance last weekend. We felt like we let each other down. It was great to come out tonight and make up for it. Next week we’ve got another tough game in LA on the road, so we definitely knew we needed this result tonight.:
On his recent form:
“My confidence is high right now because of my teammates. The coaching staff has helped me out tremendously the last couple of months. Right now, I just want to continue to get better, continue to create chances for this team. The Western Conference is tight so we need as many results as we can possibly get.”
On the importance of this game going into the weekend:
“We’ve won once against LA and tied the last game away. It’s a tough environment. They’re a great group and they’re right on our heels right now. Right now, the preparations for the team is to come in healthy. Our trainers have done a great job. We’ve got to go in, prepare, put a great week of training in and we’ll be ready for the game next weekend.”