Vancouver Whitecaps FC vs FC Dallas: 3-0
Despite fielding the same lineup as their 1-0 loss last week to Real Salt Lake and the same backline as their 4-0 trouncing by DC United prior to that, Vancouver Whitecaps FC (3W-4L-1D) fought hard to comeback from their two straight losses to rout league-leading FC Dallas (5W-2L-2D) with a 3-0 victory.
Heading into the game, things weren’t looking great for the ‘Caps. They were yet to score a goal from open play in 2016, they hadn’t scored a goal in nearly a month, and captain Pedro Morales was still sidelined with a hip injury.
From opening kickoff, it looked like it could be another long night for Vancouver as FC Dallas opened with some great scoring attempts. As usual, however, David Ousted kept the Whitecaps in the game with some huge saves early on. The 2015 MLS All-Star dove and punched his way through numerous Dallas attacks to keep the score even.
Only 35 minutes into the game, though, the Whitecaps found something they haven’t had in awhile: luck. A cross from Kekuta Manneh into the box bounced off of Dallas’ Maynor Figueroa and behind Chris Seitz to give Vancouver their first of the game and their first goal from open play in 2016. While it was only an own goal, the confidence in the Whitecaps players grew significantly.
Ousted continued to be the saviour of the ‘Caps throughout the game, making four big saves, many of which could be contenders for MLS Save of the Week. Vancouver would be in dire straits if not for the superb leadership and goalkeeping the Great Dane brings to the team.
After weathering more Dallas attacks early in the second half, Vancouver doubled their lead off a Cristian Techera corner kick. As the corner flew into the box, left back Jordan Harvey calmly slowed the ball, before booting it into Dallas’ goal.
From that point forward, it looked like there was no stopping the ‘Caps.
Blas Perez, replacing the ineffective Octavio Rivero in the 77th minute, made an immediate impact against his former team, setting up a perfect pass to Kekuta Manneh who made the lead 3-0 for Vancouver. Perez also showed his physicality a few minutes later as he earned a yellow card for an NHL-style body check on one of his former teammates.
Despite the win, a disappointment for Whitecaps fans was the lack of former ‘Cap Mauro Rosales in the game. Although FC Dallas head coach Oscar Pareja had a substitute remaining at the end of the game and the game was a sure Whitecaps victory for at least 13 minutes, Pareja left Rosales sitting on the bench, unable to make his curtain call in front of the sold-out BC Place.
While there were many positives in the game for the ‘Caps including the return of a confident Kekuta Manneh, another incredibly strong performance from David Ousted, and more smart, offensive substitutions from Carl Robinson, there were also negatives too. Designated Player Octavio Rivero still cannot find the back of the net, despite taking numerous attempts. If Rivero continues to be unable to score while holding a coveted DP spot, he may find himself without a club. With an upcoming midweek game, Robinson should bench Rivero and give Masato Kudo a chance to lead the 4-2-3-1 formation. The other major worry for Robinson and Vancouver is their ineffective backline. Despite being lead by the strong Kendall Waston, the Whitecaps’ defenders have been ineffective, forcing Ousted to bail the team out too often. If it wasn’t for Ousted, the defence could be considered completely shambolic. With weak options off the bench, Robinson may have to look to the transfer market to improve his defence.
The Whitecaps now look towards a challenging game against Sporting Kansas City, who they fell to 2-1 on the road in March, at BC Place on Wednesday at 7:30 PM. As the first midweek game of the year, it will be interesting to see the rotations Robinson makes and the lineup he fields.
Starting Eleven and Substitutes:
Substitutions: Perez for Rivero (77’), Bolanos for Techera (80’), Teibert (CAN) for Mezquida (88’)
Unused Substitutes: Tornaghi, Adekugbe (CAN), Kudo, Kah
CAN – Canadian player
Whitecaps FC 2 at LA Galaxy II: 2-2
After a challenging week with a postponed home game against OKC Energy FC due to a snowstorm and the release of Spanish star, Victor Blasco, for breaching the club’s personal conduct policy, Whitecaps FC 2 (2W-0L-2D) put it behind them with a strong performance on Friday night at the Stubhub Center against LA Galaxy II (2W-0L-4D) to comeback from a 2-0 deficit to tie the game at 2-2 and remain unbeaten in 2016.
Despite the hole left by the talented Blasco, head coach Alan Koch fielded arguably the strongest WFC2 team of the season against Western Conference leaders Los Dos, featuring five loanees from Vancouver Whitecaps FC in the starting eleven and Canadian Marco Carducci serving as backup goalkeeper. Erik Hurtado and Marco Bustos featured in their first USL action of the season, meanwhile Ben McKendry and Cole Seiler played their third USL matches of 2016 and Deybi Flores played his second.
The young team played well, pressuring LA and forcing Galaxy keeper Clement Diop to make some big saves early on in the first half. Goalkeeper Spencer Richey, starting his second game this season for the Thundercaps, also was forced to come up big in net for Vancouver. There wasn’t much the American could do to stop a screamer of a free kick from Jose Villarreal late in stoppage time of the first half to give Los Dos the lead.
The first half was also dampened for the ‘Caps as senior player Deybi Flores picked up a knock and Will Seymore was forced to substitute on for him in the midfield.
WFC2 came out strong in the second half, but the situation looked bleak as the referee awarded Galaxy II a penalty kick for a foul that clearly occurred outside of the box. As Galaxy golden boy Jack McBean doubled the lead for LA with a confident stutter-step and only 35 minutes remaining in the game, it looked as if the baby Whitecaps’ unbeaten streak might come to an end.
However, Vancouver did not give up, and the substitution of Ghanaian loanee Fatawu Safiu for Alphonso Davies in the 62nd minute completely changed WFC2’s fortunes.
After a superb cross from senior striker Erik Hurtado, Safiu easily smashed the ball behind Diop to cut LA’s lead in half in the 70th minute. Only five minutes later, Safiu proved his worth further as he laid a perfect pass at the feet of Whitecaps FC 2’s captain Kyle Greig, who scored his third of the season to lead the team in goals.
Finally, near the end of the physical game, a scuffle between the two sides led to Galaxy II’s Byram Rebellon being shown red for grabbing the face of a Whitecaps player, and Safiu and Hurtado being shown yellows for their part in the confrontation.
The baby ‘Caps were not able to capitalise on the short man advantage, however, as the game ended in a 2-2 draw. The spirit shown by Alan Koch’s men was admirable, though. When many would have counted them out, the young team continued fighting to earn the point and keep their unbeaten streak alive. Koch should also be commended for smart substitutions, with both WFC2 goals coming from substitutes off the bench.
Whitecaps FC 2 only has a short break, as they head to Kansas City to take on the Swope Park Rangers on Wednesday at 5 PM. It will be a battle of Vancouver and Kansas City on Wednesday, as the senior Whitecaps also take on Sporting Kansas City, Swope’s senior affiliate.
Starting Eleven and Substitutes:
Substitutions: Seymore for Flores (34’), Frano (CAN) for McKendry (62’), Safiu for Davies (62’), Greig for Bustos (67’), Serban (CAN) for Chung (78’) Unused Substitutes: Carducci (SR/CAN), Farmer (CAN) SR – Senior player on loan from Vancouver Whitecaps FC CAN – Canadian player