Vancouver Whitecaps continued their “hot” streak at BC Place on Friday night. defeating Cascadian rivals Portland Timbers 1-0 thanks to an early goal and a solid defensive display that kept the visitors at bay.
A goal in the opening 10 minutes from Fredy Montero would prove to be the difference, with Max Crepeau making a number of vital saves to preserve his third clean sheet of the season.
You couldn’t ask for a more aggressive start from the Whitecaps as they looked to push forward from the opening kick.
Montero almost capitalized in the opening five minutes, attempting to control a long ball from Erik Godoy but he ran out of real estate due to a charging Steven Clark.
He didn’t have to wait long for his next shot at goal, making it count as he took a pass from Russell Teibert and blasted the ball past Clarke to give the Whitecaps the lead, and what proved to be the only goal of a hotly contested match.
The Timbers killer.@_fredymontero opens the scoring.
— Vancouver Whitecaps FC (@WhitecapsFC) May 11, 2019
The home side came close to doubling their advantage in the opening 15 minutes on a corner. Ali Adnan was free on the near post but the defender fired the ball wide of the net with the goal gaping.
Crepeau had to come big on consecutive corners as he dove to deny headers from Bill Tuiloma on both chances, as Portland pressed for the equaliser.
The rest of the half saw both sides get their chances but neither team forced the keepers to make a save and the ‘Caps headed in with a slender lead.
Once again the game saw a walkout by supporters in the 35th minute in protest of the Whitecaps’ handling of the abuse allegations levelled by former members of the ‘Caps women’s team. This time they were joined in unity by the visiting Timbers Army, who left en masse in support of their Whitecaps brethren.
— AFTN (@aftncanada) May 11, 2019
While there was a rare counter, the opening 25 minutes of the second half saw the ‘Caps absorb wave after wave of a desperate Timbers attack.
During that period the visitors were only able to challenge Crepeau once, with the keeper getting his hand to a Blanco shot from a tight angle.
Crepeau continued to prove Marc Dos Santos made the right choice in naming him the number one when he stood his ground and robbed Diego Valeri from point blank range inside 12 yards.
Not only was the keeper making saves, but the defenders got into the act when Godoy redirected a shot from Blanco wide of the net.
With less than three minutes to go in the 90, Blanco, Portland’s most dangerous player on the night, sent a shot from just inside the box that went sailed wide of the far post.
And that was it as Vancouver saw out stoppage time to claim a huge three points and, for now at least, move them into the playoff places in the West. The ‘Caps now have a three game unbeaten streak (2W, 1D) and have results in five of their last six games (3W, 2D).
Crepeau was a big factor in the win but he was assisted by defenders in front of him as they got in front of a number of shots including a block from Doniel Henry on Valeri which will be up for ‘Tackle of the Year’ on the AFTN awards.
58' – GET OUTTA HERE!
— Vancouver Whitecaps FC (@WhitecapsFC) May 11, 2019
They will have a little time to reflect on the win as the Caps return to BC Place on Wednesday to take on the defending MLS Cup holders Atlanta United, who have hit a rich vein of form themselves.
FINAL SCORE: Vancouver Whitecaps 1 – 0 Portland Timbers
VANCOUVER: Maxime Crepeau; Jake Nerwinski, Doneil Henry, Erik Godoy, Ali Adnan; Jon Erice, Russell Teibert, Inbeom Hwang (Andy Rose 65); Lucas Venuto, Lass Bangoura (Brett Levis 76), Fredy Montero (Joaquin Ardaiz 87) [Subs Not Used: Zach MacMath, Scott Sutter, Derek Cornelius, Felipe Martins]
PORTLAND: Steve Clark; Jorge Moreira (Lucas Melano 83), Larrys Mabiala, Bill Tuiloma, Zarek Valentin (Julio Cascante 83); Andres Flores (Andy Polo 73), Christhian Paredes, Diego Chara, Sebastian Blanco; Diego Valeri, Jeremy Ebobisse [Subs Not Used: Jeff Attinella, Jorge Villafana, Renzo Zambrano, Tomas Conechny]
Possession: VAN 48.4% – POR 51.6%
Shots: VAN 12 – POR 27
Shots on Goal: VAN 3 – POR 5
Saves: VAN 5 – POR 3
Fouls: VAN 4 – POR 13
Offsides: VAN 0 – POR 0
Corners: VAN 5 – POR 12
Duels won: VAN 46 – POR 46
Tackles won: VAN 6 – POR 10
MARC DOS SANTOS
Overall thoughts on the match:
“The first 20 minutes of the team were fantastic in every sense – possession, creating, scoring, mobility in the attack. Then Portland had a little bit more possession. Blanco and Valeri were able to find some pockets between lines and that created a little bit of instability. The game became very broken when we tried to exploit some things in transition. They won the ball, then we lost the second ball, it became broken. The last 10 minutes of the first half, we were able to settle again. In the second half, we knew they would come hard. This was the team that was in the MLS Cup final. They’re a good team and it’s normal when you play good teams that they come at you. We were able to be solid, we were able to show commitment between everybody, and in transition, we had plays that were exciting and could’ve finished with a goal. Overall, I think with what we did in the 90 minutes, we deserve the three points against a very good team coming from three wins in a row so the guys did a very good job.”
On whether the defensive game in the second half was a tactical decision:
“You never want to because I’m going to be 42 in May and if I continue like that, at the end of the season, I’m going to be 58. It’s not an intention. But things happen that bring you back. And what happened a lot is we were compact, we were very deep, and when we won the ball, we weren’t able to keep it well. It creates fatigue and we back up. Blanco created problems, Moreira on the right side created problems. This is why Brett came into that position, but again I think fans saw a good game between two good teams.”
On the ‘Caps gradual progression:
“I’ve been on enough teams and I’ve been in the process of building enough teams to understand when a team is slowly becoming a team. But let me be clear here. It’s not because of that we do not want to be come stronger and we don’t want this club to grow every day. I’m very critical, and there’s still a lot to do. But I agree with you. In transition, the chance of Ali, what a good play he did, and the rebound, we almost scored. Another great chance from Lucas that was able to cut inside and get a shot. There were good chances in transition. But what I’ll say is the mentality of the guys when we didn’t have the ball, fighting for each other. Jake would press on the right side. There was a player in a green jersey, and three players with a white jersey. They were animals in that aspect. Fought for each other, believed in each other. Slowly, slowly, it has the DNA of what I think a team would look like.”
On improving their consistency:
“It’s work and I agree with you, it’s sometimes frustrating that we cannot keep that consistency, you know, in that 90 minutes. I have to review, what I feel in the second half sometimes was that we could have had better the ball and we took by anxiety we took some decision that we thought we tried too fast going over the top and then they get the ball and we’re defending again. It’s work, it’s with a lot of work, it’s going from 45 to 60 to 70 but it’s also normal that it happens because we aren’t Man City, we aren’t Barcelona, it’s not a reality. There’s going to be periods of the game that we are going to be lower and we’re going to have to fight for the result and grind, that’s also very tough to do that because mentally you have to be very focused and the guys have been warriors and I’m proud of them.”
On Maxime Crepeau’s performance tonight and the goalies in general:
“He was of course [important to the game]. He did a couple of big saves. We talk Max but Zac, before we speak about Max, Zac in training from day one that he came to preseason until now fantastic, his growth and level of fitness he’s getting at, tomorrow if we have to play Zac, no body’s in panic, we’re good. We have the luxury to have two very good keepers but how I see Max is this: a goalkeeper is very similar to a coach, the goalkeeper just needs an opportunity and Max maybe didn’t have that opportunity in Montreal because Montreal has a good goalkeeper called Evan Bush? And Max just needed an opportunity, the Whitecaps gave him the opportunity and he’s taken it. He’s a smart kid, he’s there for the team, he works hard every day in training and Zac, Thomas, Sean, they push each other in training. Youssef does a fantastic job with them and I have to say it publicly because Youssef does a fantastic job with them, and then everything clicks and Max answers.”
On the defensive unit in front of him:
“It’s not even just the four men in front of me, it’s the midfielders, wingers, all coming back. The back four is really solid. We saw it tonight, we saw it last weekend, It’s always like that, the work ethic of the boys and the mentality. It’s a big part of our game, the defensive aspect.”
On facing 27 shots from Portland:
“It was definitely back and forth. It’s easier for me to stay focused when we’ve got action, because if you’re only seeing action every 35 minutes, you have to really keep up mentally to be ready for that ball. But if the ball keeps coming in waves, you’re right in there [mentally], so it’s okay.”
On the mood of the room after the win, and looking towards Atlanta:
“We’re happy, it’s an important win. Coach just said it, the objective was to win it, to be in the top 7 [in the Western Conference] tonight, and let’s see what happens with the rest of the games this weekend. But after that, we want to keep up this form that we have against Atlanta. We know they’re a good team, that’s no secret. They have good weapons in front, so the locker room is happy right now, it’s time to enjoy it, but then back to business tomorrow.”
On his good form, and pressures of being a goalkeeper:
“When a club is giving you the opportunity to perform, you just have to go there, express yourself, and take it. Because with goalkeeping, you make one mistake, and you’re on the bench right away. If I can give some confidence to the guys that we’re solid in net, than they can go out and play their game, and that’s what I am about.”
On if he changed anything to now score in back-to-back games:
“No the same. I tried to work hard. I know my value, I know what can I do to help the team, and I always try to believe in every single training session. I’m honest to myself. I have a lot of experience and I always try to be focused because there are so many good players in this team, and we need to be ready because we need all of the players to be ready to win games.”
On a long season after coming from Portugal and working hard to be at his best:
“As I said before, I know my value, I know what kind of player I am. Of course sometimes when I am not having those opportunities when I don’t have the ball and I can’t add to the team in these moments when we need to score, or when we need to hold the ball on top, I think it’s when the difference has been made. Today and the games in the past when I scored the goals, it’s about keep working hard in training, I know during the game it’s 90 minutes, but it doesn’t mean I’m going to give up just because I only score goals. It’s a long season, it doesn’t matter if my season started a year ago, I am here for a reason and I just want to help the team to reach the playoffs.”
On the celebration after his goal with his teammates:
“It was my first goal of the season in front of our fans. I’m always feeling the support when we play at home, [and] they say my name. Obviously I wanted to give back this confidence and these supporters they are always supporting me. Especially scoring goals against Portland, winning the game, it’s always a plus. Today we had the opportunity to celebrate three points that tonight we are going to be in a playoff spot. Tomorrow we don’t know what’s going to happen, but on Wednesday we’re going to have another opportunity to keep fighting to get in that spot that we deserve to be in.”
Overall thoughts on the match:
“I thought that we had very good moments. Unfortunately, there were a few times in the first half that they were able to find the space and they capitalized in one opportunity. They defended well, I thought that the guys just worked very hard. I mean, everyone put everything that they could. We had chances, we attacked, we possessed the ball. I thought that we dominated the match, but credit to them, they defended very well and the goalkeeper made some spectacular saves. These are the types of games that if we play the way we played today, not many times we are going to lose.”
On what Vancouver presented:
“They organize defensively and we know they are going to play to try to frustrate the opposition. I think they were able to, in the first half, find some moments to be able to do that, but at the end the team played very well. Our guys were able to give everything that they had and as I said, unfortunately, between some saves [from Vancouver goalkeeper, Maxime Crépeau] and maybe a little bit more determination inside the box maybe we could have gotten a different score.”
On the quick turnaround the team is facing:
“First of all, we have to digest this game today. We have to look at this game and understand and assess what we need to assess and then right away prepare for Houston, which is a very good team. It’s another tough team that we have to play on the road and that’s it. These guys have done a tremendous job. I thought today was a very good match and now we need to prepare for Houston.”
On his thoughts on the game:
“I think it was a physical game. I think in the second half we were a little bit better with the ball. We created a lot of opportunities to score, but I think today we weren’t effective.”
On Vancouver’s defensive performance:
“I think it was hard because they found the goal too quick in the first half. After that I think we did everything to try to create for every way to score and unfortunately we didn’t.”
On how will the team recover from the loss:
“We are in the right moment for that. I think we learned that before, and now we are a strong group.”