It took until the fourth match of the season for the Whitecaps to get a result and it came close to becoming three points, but Vancouver had to settle for just the single point in the goalless draw against Cascadian rivals Seattle Sounders at BC Place on Saturday evening.
Earning the clean sheets were Stefan Frei for Seattle and Max Crepeau for Vancouver, which was their first in MLS since April 27th 2018, spanning 28 league matches and almost a full calendar year.
It looked as though that point was going to be three when Inbeom Hwang went down in the box deep into stoppage time after a challenge from his Korean compatriot Kim Kee-hee. Referee Sibiga pointed to the spot, only for the decision to be reversed after a video review. More VAR heartache for the ‘Caps but at least this time it was the correct decision.
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) March 31, 2019
Marc Dos Santos had been forced to make some changes with key players Hwang and Yordy Reyna on the bench after feeling tired from their international travels over the past week.
On paper, Seattle looked to have the far stronger line-up in the battle between the unbeaten Sounders and the still pointless Whitecaps, but Vancouver got an early chance just after the five minute mark when PC took a Sounders turnover on a break but was unable to find Montero making his run down the middle.
That was to prove to be a rare opportunity, with the Sounders controlling most of the possession of the ball and the tempo during the first 30 minutes.
The first shot on goal for either side finally came in the 39th minute when Lass Bangoura’s low one from outside the box was smothered by Stephen Frei.
Vancouver continued to push forward in the next few minutes with Montero just unable to collect up a cross into the box and new Whitecap Ali Adnan’s first shot on goal curling wide of the net.
The visitors had their chances in the final few minutes of the half as they were buzzing around the box but were unable to get their shots on net.
After the break the Sounders showed the initial push trying to get the first goal but were denied a couple times. Chad Marshall’s attempt was weak and Ruidiaz’s shot was blocked before he could get it on net.
Crepeau was tested from distance in the 64th minute when he stopped a blast from Gustav Svensson from just inside 30 yards, and 11 minutes later it was Frei’s turn to save his team when he robbed Montero on a deflection from a pass by substitute Lucas Venuto.
Moments later came possibly the best chance of the night for the Sounders, but they were denied by Doniel Henry as he was able to step in front a shot by Riudiaz from just inside the six yard area.
Crepeau was once again forced into a save in the final minute of the 90 when he denied Victor Rodriguez’s attempt off a free kick from just outside the box.
Then came the late, late drama as the ‘Caps almost pulled it off in the final minute of extra time when Ardiaz made a final run splitting the Sounders defenders only to have his shot denied by Frei and the follow up by Hwang was blocked by countryman Kim, leading to the penalty drama and the video review.
The Whitecaps had to settle for just the point, and with it came the first positive result of the season after three straight defeats. It was also the first point for Marc dos Santos, who clearly had his club set up in a defensive mode for the majority of the first half. A decision that ultimately paid off.
Despite the setup there were enough opportunities for Vancouver to capitalize on their shots, especially on their final shot of the night by Ardiaz, and a lot of positives to draw from the overall performance. Things are moving in the right direction at least.
While Crepeau made a couple of big stops, there was no one more valuable in the defensive box than Doniel Henry who made a couple of huge blocks and seemed to be always there to clear the ball out of danger.
There will be little time to reflect on the result as the Whitecaps look to collect max points in their Friday night meeting with the LA Galaxy at BC Place.
FINAL SCORE: Vancouver Whitecaps 0 – 0 Seattle Sounders
VANCOUVER: Maxime Crépeau; Jake Nerwinski, Érik Godoy, Doneil Henry, Ali Adnan; Felipe Martins, .Jon Erice, Russell Teibert (Inbeom Hwang, 72’); Lass Bangoura (Lucas Venuto 61), Fredy Montero (Joaquín Ardaiz 87), Victor “PC” Giro [Substitutes not used: .Zac MacMath, Scott Sutter, Yordy Reyna, Brett Levis]
SEATTLE: Stefan Frei; Kelvin Leerdam, Kim Kee-hee, Chad Marshall, Brad Smith; Gustav Svensson (Handwalla Bwana 83), Cristian Roldan; Jordan Morris, Nicolás Lodeiro, Víctor Rodríguez; Raúl Ruidíaz (Will Bruin 87) [Substitutes not used: Bryan Meredith, Nouhou Tolo, Alex Roldan, Jordy Delem, Román Torres]
Possession: VAN 42.9% – SEA 57.1%
Shots: VAN 12 – SEA 14
Shots on Goal: VAN 3 – SEA 3
Saves: VAN 3 – SEA 3
Fouls: VAN 12 – SEA 11
Offsides: VAN 0 – SEA 1
Corners: VAN 5 – SEA 7
Duels won: VAN 45 – SEA 54
Tackles won: VAN 10 – SEA 14
MARC DOS SANTOS
On getting their first point and the defensive organization:
“It’s always a relief to break the ice because you don’t want pressure to accumulate too much. If you look at results in MLS, you see games at 3-0, 4-0, 5-0. You will see in the three losses that we had, it’s little details. What I criticized last week was sometimes, I felt that not the full team at the same time had the commitment in the defensive organization part. And sometimes, we were detached so we spoke a lot about this during the week. We went over video. The mentality, the commitment, the players were at the level of the fans tonight.”
On creating opportunities:
“Could we have created a little bit more opportunities? Yes. In moments, we didn’t hold the ball well enough to allow the team to move up. We weren’t that clean in the first half, especially in their half. Did we have big moments to create chances? Yes. There’s this big chance from Ardaiz in the final stages of the game that led to the VAR decision. I think overall, it is a step forward.”
On the penalty being called back:
“I’m always careful to talk about this. I’ll put it like this. If this type of foul was in the midfield, I think the ref would have whistled the foul. I think it was reckless. He went all the way to try and defend his goal, and I understand, but then his movement continues and then it was reckless. We can’t mix other games that we’ve played into this one, but if you look at the type of foul from Derek Cornelius on Elis and now this one, why is one a penalty and the other one no? I felt that our fans, for everything that they were during the game, they deserved that goal. But before the penalty I have to highlight the play from Ardaiz to get open and the very, very good save from Stefan.”
On Doneil Henry’s and Érik Godoy’s performances:
“Normal. I work with them everyday. I believe in them. Doneil has shown signs all year of great defensive plays. He’s grown. If you see Érik training sometimes, you think it’s too easy for him. I think what’s happening is they’re getting an understanding of one another. I think everybody was a monster on the defensive side. Jake worked hard, he did a lot of plays. Ali looks like a player who’s been here for two years. The mentality was incredible today.”
On the strategy to keep Seattle in front of them:
“There’s a team playing at home with fans that are incredible, who showed up and were there to support the team after three losses in a row. And then there’s a Seattle team that scored 10 goals in the first three games and dominated fully their first three opponents. So there was a strategic part of our game to keep them a lot in front of us, so their possession was a lot in front of us, and a lot side-to-side, so we did a good job and that was very strategic on our part.”
On the decision to play Russell Teibert:
“Inbeom is a very honest guy and very direct, and I said you’re tired, and he said ‘I’m dead’. So he was tired from the Bolivia and Colombia games. If you watch the Colombia game, they defended a lot South Korea, so it took a lot of energy from him. Then I sat down with Russell and said look, in my heart, it’s crazy to play you because you haven’t been a lot around the team but my heart tells me to play you. And he says, ‘You’re taking the right decision,’ so it was easy. We took the decision together. Rusty, I think is sometimes underrated because his work ethic, his mentality, the way he addresses training and his willingness to work is always there for the team.”
On viewing the draw as half-full or half-empty:
“It’s a type of game that could go both ways at any time. It could go from a stupid mistake to a great shot. It could go both ways so from where we are, everyone is good with the fact that we didn’t concede, that’s for sure. Can we win it? Yes, we have that feeling as well. It’s pretty 50-50. There’s some positives, and we’ll take that point definitely because coach said it, and we all know it, we aren’t hiding it, Seattle’s a great team. It’s half-half, I think we have some pride defending, and we had some great moments going forward, I think it could go both ways in this kind of games.”
On his first MLS clean sheet:
“I didn’t think about this. It feels good but it’s just the beginning. Going to USL last year was great for me personally as a goalkeeper, getting the games was fantastic, and I grew from there. In MLS now, it’s about getting some momentum, getting the clean sheets if we could get clean sheets. Championships are won by defence, we all know that. It’s about details going forward.”
On Doneil Henry:
“He’s been solid so far. Tonight he was fantastic. Two blocks on shots on goal, so many interceptions on crosses, so merci, thank you Doneil.”
On the feeling in the dressing room:
“We take it as what it is. We played Seattle, a top team, and we got a point. They had their chances, we had out chances, but I’m satisfied with the result. We go forward with this same momentum for our next game on the weekend.”
On getting their first clean sheet in MLS play since April 2018:
“As a defender, we get put in touch situations all the time. We’re the villains when we get scored on, and we don’t get the praise when we win. Of course as a defender, we really look forward to getting clean sheets. But we go in every day at training and we try to perfect our craft. Tonight was a full team’s effort in defending and in transition. So eleven months, whatever it is, every time we go out there we’re looking to continue to get clean sheets. So today, definitely it felt good.”
On the chemistry in team defending:
“I think we’re getting more comfortable. The same presence within the core group of guys are playing. I think with more repetition between the same guys, we understand each other’s tendencies more. I think that we’re really understanding how we’re wanting to play.”
Thoughts on the match:
“It was hard fought, yes. There was a little bit of excitement at the end. But for 80 minutes of the game there wasn’t much excitement. So it was hard to break a team down that was playing defensive, but I thought there were some thing that we certainly could have done better trying to unlock the game and score a goal, and that would have made them come out.”
On halftime adjustments:
“There was some space down the left hand side, but I didn’t think we were clever enough. Teams know what we try and do – go down the left. So we need to attract him over to the left side then change the ball quickly over to Jordan [Morris] on Kelvin [Leerdam]’s side. I don’t think we did that with the right timing, playing in between the lines, having them have a little bit more patience. It’s hard for them to play with patience sometimes. There were little adjustments we tried to make but they didn’t.”
On the hectic last five minutes:
“Great hustle by Kim, that’s what I saw. Their guy cuts to the inside and it’s essentially one-v-one versus the keeper, sometimes players tend to shut down and hope for the best, but he kept going and made my save count and made sure the ball stayed out. But the referee said right away that Kim came from behind, but I knew that Kim came from the left and he was in that whole struggle on the left side there. So there was no way that he came from behind on that tackle, but I’m glad that they had a look at it and overturned it. But great hustle by Kim, and I really appreciate that.”
On the challenge of not having much action, and then having to make a big save:
“I think it’s important that you stay engaged in a game when you’re not feeling the ball as much. You can still move with the flow of your team and communicate and things like that. So I think it’s important that you do that when you’re not seeing the ball, and when you’re called upon you’re still ready to go.”
Thoughts on the match:
“I think it was a frustrating game on our part. I thought that we created quite a few chances, a Vancouver player was just in the right spot for a block. In the end it felt like we lost two points. But back to the drawing board and refocus for next week’s game.”
On halftime adjustments to their attack:
“You want to find the right balance between sending all your guys forward and being susceptible to the counterattack. And finding the right balance between getting guys into the box and trying to score that one goal to put you through. I felt like we did a really good job until the end. I thought we were a little bit sloppy then, and Kim kind of makes up for it and we end up saving two points.”