Match Report: Vancouver Whitecaps v Miami FC Blues (USL1)
Vancouver Whitecaps took huge strides in securing a play off spot with a 2-0 victory over Miami FC Blues last night, in front of 5,288 fans at Swangard Stadium.
With Vancouver, Miami and Montreal fighting for the last two spots, it was vital that the Whitecaps took all three points from the match up, which they did thanks to two late goals from Charles Gbeke.
The first half had been pretty much a non event, with neither team really looking like they realised the importance of the encounter. Miami at least had a reason, as they had just played the night before. The Whitecaps had all the main chances, but they all ended up wide.
Vancouver had dominated play and this continued into the second half and although it felt that a Caps goal was inevitable, there were also times when you just couldn’t see the breakthrough coming.
It took until the 80th minute for the opening goal to come. Gordon Chin floated a great cross into the box and Charles Gbeke used his height to throw himself at the ball and head it across the goal to the back post and over Pat Hannigan in the Miami net from 14 yards out. It was a fantastic header. One of the best this season and Vancouver took a deserved 1-0 lead.
Chin almost made it two himself with a minute remaining when Marcus Haber set him up with a great side pass after breaking on the right, but Hannigan rushed out well to thwart the danger.
Moments later, with the match entering stoppage time, the Caps did wrap things up.
Randy Edwini-Bonsu had just come on for Haber and his pace caused the Miami defence immediate problems. In a quick Caps break, he collected the ball just inside the Miami half and left Miami captain John Pulido for dead with a burst of pace up the touchline. As he ran onto goal, many players would have tried the shot but he had the awareness to see Gbeke beside him and laid the ball off for the big hitman to easily slot it home from 12 yards out. 2-0 Vancouver and goodnight Miami.
The win gave Vancouver a six point gap over the Florida side (technically seven as they also hold the tiebreaker qualification), although Miami have played a game less than the Caps. With a fairly easy looking run in, a play off spot is now only Vancouver’s to lose and they could even find themselves finishing as high as fifth as they are rapidly closing in on Rochester, who currently hold that position.
So for all Caps fans, it’s not too presumptuous to start looking ahead to the playoffs and the possibility of back to back USL Championships. It’s not going to be an easy road to get there, but recent performances have certainly shown that they have no-one to really fear.