After a record breaking 5-0 victory over the San Jose Earthquakes, the Vancouver Whitecaps faced the second seeded Seattle Sounders in the Western Conference semi-finals. First leg was played at home and resulted in a 0-0 draw. The game was frustrating and intense.
When the lineup was announced, you could tell we were playing defensively since away goals are weighted more than home goals in aggregate scoring. The Whitecaps had some really great chances. I sit near the away team’s support section and boy were they annoying =). Seattle also had their fair amount of chances including an almost own goal from our very own Kendall Waston.
The game was physical right away and the ref let them play. There was a lot of players “down”. Just to give you an idea, with a 0-0 draw the second half had at least 6 mins of extra time. 6 MINUTES. Most of this time came from a little kerfuffle in the 83rd minute, involving most, if not all, of both sides. It was a heated game with added frustration of playoffs. The ref wasn’t consistent, Seattle is defending the Cup, and these two teams have been rivals for a while now. Emotions were being felt.
Near the end of the game, we made some offensive changes bringing in Yordy Reyna and Nico Mezquida. Expect to see a more offensive lineup for Thursday, the 2nd game. Though, word on the street is that Reyna and Techera are still “touch and go’ according to the Whitecaps website. Seattle will also see the return of Clint Dempsey coming off a red card suspension.
Whitecaps lost 3-0 on their last visit to their rivals. Seattle is a hometown team who set a “franchise record this year for the fewest home losses in a season” according to the Sounder’s website.
One away goal from the Whitecaps could curtail the Sounders and pressure them to produce 2 goals. There are many scenarios that could play out in the second game, but one thing is certain, there will be only one team moving on. We need to, more now than ever, to #Riseupraincity
If you’ve ever been to a match when the Cascadia Cup is on the line, you never forget it.
Long-time Timbers Army members tell stories of the first Cascadia Cup matches early in the A-League/USL era, when supporters of the Vancouver Whitecaps, Seattle Sounders, and Portland Timbers all agreed to pitch in to buy a trophy to honor whichever Cascadia team had the best regular season record among the three. They can tell you why you should never pick the Cup up by the handles, and about how league and schedule changes have forced supporters from all three clubs to come to agreement on how to handle unbalanced schedules and other hiccups in the past.
In the MLS era, I remember when something like 1500 of us went to Seattle in October 2012 with the chance to win the Cup–and instead got spanked 3-0. I remember when hundreds of us then trekked to Vancouver two weeks later to christen the newly renovated BC Place, and Jack Jewsbury blasted a ball from distance to give us a 1-0 victory and our first Cascadia Cup in the MLS era.
As in years past, if there is ever a Cascadia Cup match where the trophy is on the line, representatives from supporters of the potential winner of the Cup must be in attendance, even if their team isn’t playing. And representatives of those in possession of the Cup must also be in attendance when the Cup is on the line, even if their team isn’t playing. When we had to surrender the Cup in 2011, representatives of the Timbers Army had to drive to Canada to hand it over to either Seattle or Vancouver, depending on the outcome of their match. In 2012, turnabout was fair play, and Seattle had to drive to Canada to hand the trophy over to us.
This year, Portland has had several chances to seal the deal. Vancouver brought the trophy down to a Portland-Seattle game in case we won the game and the Cup (we didn’t); Portland supporters had to go to a Vancouver-Seattle game in case they drew and we won the Cup (we didn’t); and Seattle had to come to Portland for our final match against Vancouver in case we drew or lost, which would have meant Seattle winning the Cup (they didn’t). In the end, all three supporter groups traveled to matches played by two teams they didn’t support, all for naught and all because of the Cascadia Cup. It was standard Cascadia Cup drama.
And it was glorious.
Of course, since it was a Cascadia Cup match, I was already a wreck well before the game. And not only was the Cup on the line: a win would put us into first place in the West and give us a first round bye. With the Sounders playing hapless Colorado, a tie or a loss would almost certainly put us into third or fourth place, with the insult-to-injury of losing the Cup to hated rivals in Seattle, followed by a midweek play-in game on little rest.
Superstitious to the last, I baked the same fanladen treats I’ve been baking since our home game winning streak began in August. I wore the same USL Timbers earrings I wear to every home game. And I was still sure how this script would go. I figured that, as a former Whitecaps player, Darren Mattocks would score the early goal to punish Vancouver and get our hopes up; and that Fredy Montero, recently acquired by the Whitecaps, a long-time former Sounders player and hated rival, would crush our spirits with a late equalizer. I hoped for the best and prepared myself for the worst.
As I expected, we went with the same lineup we’d used against DC United. Both teams looked to be pretty stingy early on, so it wasn’t surprising that the first score came off a set piece. Kendall Waston punished Larrys Mabiala in the 29′ with a beautiful header off a free kick. I groaned, expecting Vancouver to be sensible and pack in the defense.
But then a funny thing happened. The Timbers started flying into the box, and the Whitecaps were unable to respond. Just three minutes after the Waston header, David Guzman took a deep free kick from just past the center circle and Aly Ghazal headed it out the back unnecessarily. This set up a corner kick for Guzman, who sent it to the top left corner of the box to Darlington Nagbe. Whitecaps keeper Stefan Marinovic was barely able to bat away Nagbe’s curling shot; unfortunately for Marinovic, he batted it to the waiting feet of Liam Ridgewell, who stretched out just enough to tap it across the goal and into the net to tie the game:
The rest of the half, the Timbers were on the front foot, as they say, continuing to press. I kept waiting for the boys to falter and suffer from a counterattack but it never really materialized. And then three minutes into the half a beautiful team goal involving Nagbe, Sebastian Blanco, Vytautas Andriuškevičius, and Mattocks put us ahead 2-1 to stay:
Vancouver battled hard in the last few minutes but to no avail, and when the final whistle sounded the unbelievable had become reality: we had won the West and the Cup.
Sebastian Blanco had an excellent game. I know some people grumbled that he took shots that were off the mark, but the truth is that his work rate is incredible, he is starting to team well with others, and those shots he took wouldn’t have been possible if he hadn’t worked so hard to get the opportunities in the first place.
Darren Mattocks is playing well(!). At the start of the season, I would not have guessed that I’d consider preferring to start Mattocks up top over Fanendo Adi going into the playoffs; but here we are.
Alvas Powell didn’t make any fatal errors. ‘Nuf said.
Off the Pitch
Surprising absolutely nobody, Diego Valeri was the hands down winner of the Supporters Player of the Year award. We are ready to build the statue any time, folks.
As the season closes in, the Vancouver Whitecaps have wound their way through almost every spot in the standings. Considering this, their play has also represented all of these standings. We have seen them go toe-to-toe with New York City FC, summoning a fire within that brought even the harshest winds to their adversaries. We have also seen them struggle with chemistry, an ever changing starting lineup, and missing PKs that should have been meticulously placed in one of the four corners of the net.
As the San Jose Earthquakes came to town, we once again saw the on again, off again Whitecaps. With a rather slow and unenthusiastic beginning to the game, we saw a goal from Yordy Reyna (Rayna Terror we call them) in the 29th minute that catalysed the entire team. The effect was immediate, the goal was a team effort touching almost all positions on the pitch.
Most of the game was mediocre by the Whitecaps, though we saw some great attacking plays that just didn’t fall. For me, someone who loves to see some playmaking, I felt like we put more pressure on their back end with runs and finding space rather than our usual long ball over the top that gets sent right back. Honestly, I like the way the attacking half was playing.
The Quakes came back with a goal in the 77th min by Valeri Qazaishvili. A devastating blow to the ‘Caps ability to clinch first place in the West.
Most of what we talk about happens to be goals, so I wanted to give a shout out to Andrew Tarbell and Stefan Marinović who were both magnificent in goal. It really was a delight to watch them both.
Now we work to defeat the Portland Timbers who are going to go in strong in this last game of the regular season. So much rides on this last game. Pride in rival games, first place, and home field advantage going into the playoffs. We need the mids to be stronger, faster, and more accurate with their ball skills. We need the forwards to continue firing at the net. We need to defeat the Timbers! It’s time to #riseupraincity
Well, it’s a marvelous night for a moondance
With the stars up above in your eyes
A fantabulous night to make romance
‘Neath the cover of October skies
It was ‘neath the cover of October skies that the New York Red Bulls (13-12-7, 34 points) clinched the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, now for the 8th straight season, with a win against Western Conference leaders the Vancouver Whitecaps (15-11-6, 31 points). September was a mess, but as coach Jesse Marsch said after the match, the team was able to turn the page:
“…September was difficult for us and disappointing. You know, we were all
disappointed with the results. But we continued to feel that we were playing well, and it was just a matter of time before we were going to start to have it add up more.”
Fans were stressed. The team was missing chances and dropping points. Mistakes were destroying morale and injuries are still whittling away at the team’s depth. Three players heeded national call-ups (Michael Amir Murillo and Fidel Ecsobar to Panama, and Derrick Etienne to Haiti), reducing team strength even further. But Marsch found a way to right the ship.
“Yeah, I mean, I’ll be honest. I’ve been challenging our defenders… to perform at a higher level because we’ve made too many mistakes. […W]e felt like if we could shore that up; if we could find the right balance of personnel and performance in the back that the rest will take care of itself, because there’s a lot of good things happening. So you know, got three good performances from the guys at center back…”
That would be Damien Perrinelle, Aaron Long, and Kemar Lawrence. Lawrence, who played a major role in Jamaica’s Gold Cup run, declined the call for an international friendly in Saudi Arabia. The team, the fans, and my fantasy lineup all heaved a sigh of relief. It’s just too bad that Lawrence got himself a yellow card in the 84th minute and is now suspended for the next game.
Meanwhile back on offense, “all the night’s magic” made the fans stand up and cheer. Forward Danny Royer, just recently back from injury, shot the ball across the face of the goal and in for the 12th time this season in the 33rd minute.
As for assists, captain Sacha Kljestan posted 2 more on the night, bringing his season total to 17. Kljestan just might be on track to rack up 20 assists on the season for the 2nd year in a row. Mighty impressive, if you ask me.
So with two games to go, post season plans are being made. Let’s (Moon)dance.
This season has been a rough one for Colorado Rapids fans. The end of 2016 saw us lose at home against the Seattle Sounders in the race for the MLS Cup, a victory that has eluded us since 2010. Dick’s Sporting Goods Park had been affectionately nicknamed the “Mile High Fortress,” thanks to their 2016 regular season record at home. This season began full of hope and promise.
And then came 2017.
The 2017 season has been rife with disappointment, losses, and upheavals in staffing and on the field. A team that finished second in the MLS West division to FC Dallas, and the Supporter’s Shield, in the 2016 season was now dealing with life on the bottom of the board. We just couldn’t put together cohesive play to result in more than a handful of wins and the frustration was visible in player interactions on the field.
The offseason saw us sign the likes of Alan Gordon from LA Galaxy, Bismark Adjei-Boateng from the Manchester City system, and not do anything else. Midway through the season we saw the devastating departure of team captain Sam Cronin and Marc Burch to the new expansion team, Minnesota United. In return, Mohammed Saeid and Joshua Gatt donned the burgundy jersey. The departure that seemed to hit the hardest, however, was that of longtime coach and former player, Pablo Mastroeni. The drop in morale was tangible in that first home game since his firing.
There has not been much turnaround for the team under the wing of interim coach Steve Cooke, but Saturday night’s game provided the opportunity for the Rapids to move ahead of LA Galaxy, and out of last place. The Rapids started a 4-2-3-1 against Vancouver Whitecaps at BC Place with Jared Watts and Michael Azira playing as a defensive 6 and an attacking 8, respectively, and Dominique Badji at the top as a target player.
The first half saw an early goal go in off of a header from Freddy Montero to put Vancouver ahead 1-nil after Axel Sjöberg was late to the play. Jared Watts (COL) drew the first yellow card of the game in the 14th minute due to a tackle from behind on Yordy Reyna after the ball was gone. Tim Howard then denied Cristian Techera a goal with a sliding save. Tim Parker (VAN) saw an attempt go wide and then turn into a yellow card thanks to his hand ball in the 34th minute.
We finally saw some flashes of Colorado’s defensive capabilities when they denied four consecutive attempts from Vancouver. Dominique Badji scored the equalizer in the 44th minute, megging the keeper, David Ousted. This was his third goal in as many games, bringing him to 9 for the season.
The second half began with a completely incidental collision between Badji and Andrew Jacobsen (VAN), though both got up with a bit of a hobble. Montero had a chance for his second goal, but he went just wide with his attempt. It was a lucky break for Colorado as Howard was down with no chance to make the save. Yordy Reyna beat Howard in the 53rd minute to score the go ahead goal for the Whitecaps.
Tempers soon flared a bit between Marlon Hairston and Tony Tchani, but because of camera angles – we weren’t able to see what happened. However, neither cards nor fouls were issued for the interaction. Michael Azira received the fourth yellow card in the game for pulling down Yordy Reyna. There was no argument from Azira because it was, as announcer Marcelo Balboa called it, “a professional foul”. Despite multiple attempts at the end of the second half, the Rapids were not able to put anything away to bring the score even.
The Rapids face FC Dallas on Wednesday, September 27th in their next round of play. Should the Galaxy lose to the Houston Dynamo on Wednesday, we will have yet another chance to pull out of last place before the end of the season.
4’ – GOAL: Freddy Montero (VAN) 1-0 Whitecaps
14’ – CARD: Jared Watts (COL) – yellow
34’ – CARD: Tim Parker (VAN) – yellow
43’ – CARD: Mekeil Williams (COL) – yellow
44’ – GOAL: Dominique Badji (COL) 1-1
53’ – GOAL: Yordy Reyna (VAN) 2-1 Whitecaps
59’ – SUBSTITUTION: COL (1/3) – Stefan Aigner in for Marlon Hairston
64’ – SUBSTITUTION: COL (2/3) – Alan Gordon in for Josh Gatt
69’ – SUBSTITUTION: VAN (1/3) – Bernie Ibini in for Cristian Techera
75’ – SUBSTITUTION: COL (3/3) – Bismark Adjei-Boateng in for Jared Watts
76’ – SUBSTITUTION: VAN (2/3) – Alphonso Davies in for Brek Shea
82’ – SUBSTITUTION: VAN (3/3) – Erik Hurtado in for Fredy Montero
The boys are back in town. They are looking good after their long road trip across Canada and as far south as Houston. Lots of miles (or kilometers if you will) and here we are in the most beautiful weather Van City has seen since last summer and it feels like home.
Tim Parker is looking strong. He has been training and you can tell. He is winning 50/50 balls being the rock that defense needs. He is also stepping up in the front, getting his head on the end of free kicks and corners. Parker got on the end of one to score the second goal of the game.
Let’s talk about the offense for a second. Can we all please note that MLS marked the Vancouver Whitecaps’ Saturday goal as the 2nd best assist in the league this week. Second? Nope, I say it is #1 and a beauty it was. On a quick, Waston to Williams, off the chest of Bolanos and volley by Techera. This put the ‘Caps up 1-0 late in the first half.
Early in the second half we saw an all too familiar scene. Fredy Montero missing the 2nd PK of the season. First one, we let pass since he followed up and finished it off. This one, was one too many, time to pass the torch.
I like Fredy Montero, but he seemed a bit frustrated and a lot flat footed. He was a step or two late to the ball and letting the defender step in front each time.
We want Brek, say it with me, “We want Brek”. After Brek’s shaky start with the ‘Caps, the fans seems to like him a lot more since he is finding the back of the net. He even scored his mom a goal on Mother’s day. We only got to see him for 6 minutes this game. I think a sub for Montero should have come a lot sooner.
Speaking of moms, my Mother-In-Law was in town, she called them the Snowycaps and I think it is just adorable.
On a serious note, the Vancouver Whitecaps lost one of their own recently. An incredibility talented young man, Travis Salje. At just 17 his life was suddenly taken by a car accident. The Whitecaps and supporters of the team wanted to #standupfortravis, and we did. The community sends our love to the Salje family.
A win, a beautiful goal, and a boost of confidence. #riseupraincity
OK, so I am a bit a lot late, sorry. But, hey, The Vancouver Whitecaps have a game today, let’s get excited.
What did the ‘Caps do last weekend to get the W that can be continued today?
Going down early in the game we continued to find space. So, people who know soccer always say that, but what does it mean?
The Whitecaps used runs by Jordan Harvey and Sheanon Williams to play balls into the middle then back out to the wings to create more space in the middle. This helped to create a ton of opportunities in which we were able to capitalize on. I want to emphasize that these opportunities were capitalized on.
The first Whitecap goal was a beautiful strike from Andrew Jacobson to tie the game at one a piece after falling behind 1-0 early in the game.
Cristian Techera was integral in making sure ball movement was opening up the field. After the initial goal of the game by Marco Donadel, Montreal Impact fell back and packed their defense. This required possessing the ball and making quick movements towards goal. This also led to some dangerous counter-strikes from Ignacio Piatti and the young and fun to watch Ballou Tabla.
The second goal coming from Techera was a beauty and a schooling in patience and tactical intelligence. It made me want to be a better soccer player.
Overall, the ‘Caps had more consistency with the same Starting XI as last game. Created more space with the overlapping of the defensive backs and more patience and possession as prior games.
Playing in Colorado tonight on their second last stop of their road trip, let’s root for them to #riseupraincity and finally, congrats to Fredy Montero for being voted Whitecaps FC player of the Month.