While lightning delayed the TFC-Dallas game, the eyes of the Canadian soccer world were solely on Rio Tinto Stadium as the Vancouver Whitecaps (5W-1D-2L) earned their first win in Utah over Real Salt Lake (2W-3D-1L) on Saturday night with their 1-0 victory.
An astounding header from striker Darren Mattocks off a Russell Teibert cross in the 80th minute was all the ‘Caps needed to hand RSL their first loss of the season and head back to BC Place with all three points.
Although captain and midfield maestro Pedro Morales was suspended after an altercation with Earthquake Adam Jahn last week, the Whitecaps adapted quickly with a new 4-3-1-2 formation and Canadian Teibert taking the armband.
The ‘Caps managed to utilize the red cards shown to Salt Lake players in the 76th and 89th minute. In the 76th minute two of the substitutes, Mauro Rosales and Sebastian Saucedo, became acquainted with each other when Saucedo went in studs up on Rosales’ recently healed ankle. After Mattocks capitalized on the one-man advantage, Jamison Olave turned it into a two-man advantage when he pulled Mattocks down on a breakaway earning himself his second yellow of the night leading to his ejection.
The match against RSL was certainly far from a friendly affair with numerous players on each team needing medical attention on the pitch; fortunately there were no injuries. With 29 fouls being called by sophomore referee Ted Unkel, players on both sides will feel the effects of the rough challenges.
With the win, the Whitecaps managed to maintain first place in the 2015 Supporters’ Shield race, as they have started off the first eight games of the season at a two points per game pace. However, the ‘Caps have played eight games already this season, more than any other team in MLS, and the second place Red Bulls have three games in hand upcoming.
Many supporters of both teams found the second half to be much more action-packed than the first. The first half was a stalemate with RSL recording the only shot on target in the first 45 minutes. Fortunately both sides picked up the pace after the half-time break, and played an entertaining second half in front of the 20,414 fans at the Rio Tinto.
The Whitecaps hope to continue on with their league-leading form as they return to BC Place to take on D.C. United, one of the strongest teams in the east so far this season on Saturday, April 25th at 7:30 PM. The Whitecaps will have a rested Pedro Morales back from suspension for the match.
Vancouver Whitecaps Starting Eleven and Substitutes:
Head coach Carl Robinson utilized a unique 4-3-1-2 formation on Saturday against RSL, so unique that startingeleven.co.uk does not have a graphic for it.
Regarding the new formation, Robinson commented, “I hit them with this yesterday… how we were going to play and the roles and responsibilities for each personnel. For them to take that on board within 24 hours, without really doing much work on it, they showed today they’re smart footballers as well as talented footballers. They should be given a lot of credit for that, but now I’m going to challenge them even more.”
Keeper David Ousted earned his fourth clean sheet of the season in eight games with the assistance of full-backs Steven Beitashour and Canadian Sam Adekugbe, and centre-backs Kendall Waston and Pa-Modou Kah. In the strong defensive midfield, Argentinean Designated Player Matias Laba was flanked on his right by Gershon Koffie and on his left by ‘Captain Canada’ Russell Teibert. Nicolas Mezquida led the midfield as the number ten, a position usually held by the suspended Pedro Morales, while Designated Player Octavio Rivero shared the attacking duties with the lone goal-scorer Darren Mattocks. Robinson only made two substitutions in the game, bringing on Mauro Rosales to replace Mezquida in the 71st minute, while Erik Hurtado replaced Mattocks in the 90th minute in search of an insurance goal. The unused substitutes for the Whitecaps included goalkeeper Paolo Tornaghi, defender Jordan Harvey, midfielders Deybi Flores and Kekuta Manneh, and striker Robert Earnshaw.
Real Salt Lake Starting Eleven and Substitutes:
Sebastian Saucedo for Jordan Allen (64′), John Stertzer for Tony Beltran (84′), Devon Sandoval for Luke Mulholland (88′)Substitutes:
Jeff Attinella, Wellington Paeckart, Aaron Maund, Abdoulie Mansally
Saturday Night MLS Standings: