Tags: MLS playoffs, Portland Timbers, Vancouver Whitecaps
This Saturday night’s regular season finale at BC Place against the Colorado Rapids promises to be a special one. If the Vancouver Whitecaps win the match, fans are guaranteed to be celebrating an auspicious triple crown which includes the Cascadia Cup, CONCACAF Champion’s League qualification, and a place in the Major League Soccer playoffs. The first two have been achieved, but the last is still at stake.
At 5:30PM our playoff rivals the Portland Timbers will be playing Dallas FC away from home. If the Timbers lose that game, they are out of the MLS playoff and we will be able to party during our game, which begins at 7PM at BC Place. If the Timbers win or tie, we must win the match verses Colorado, because tie-breakers go against us. Whatever happens it will be a night of drama to remember.
It is advantage Whitecaps because Dallas FC will be highly motivated to beat the Timbers in order to leap over Real Salt Lake into third in the standings. If Dallas win they will avoid the one match shootout the fourth placed team must play against the fifth placed team to determine who will proceed in the in the Western Conference play-offs. Furthermore, Portland will be playing its third game in 9 days because of its mid-week trip to Honduras to play a match in the CONCACAF Champions League. The Timber’s weary squad will have to face a well-rested Dallas FC which is traditionally fierce at home.
The night will also feature Jay DeMerit’s retirement celebration. Prior to the match we fans will get to celebrate the wonderful leadership he brought to our team during its MLS infancy .
All in all it is shaping up to be the biggest celebration for the Vancouver Whitecap’s fans since match day one back in March of 2011 when we beat Toronto FC 4-2 in our very first MLS match.
Tags: Nick Rimando
Thank heaven for Nick Rimando who made several stunning saves to preserve a 0-0 draw in Portland. No wonder he is my favorite player not playing for the Vancouver Whitecaps. The Whitecaps still need 4 points to be sure, however. We have two matches left to Portland’s one. Lets hope we get three points tomorrow night in San Jose to really get our boots on the necks of the Timbers.
Tags: Cascadia Cup, Kekuta Manneh, major league soccer, Seattle Sounders, Vancouver Whitecaps
We knew if the Vancouver Whitecaps were going to beat the Seattle Sounders last night that Kekuta Manneh was going to have to do something very special like he did last year. And he did just that, providing a single piece of magic, and ultimately a win, for Whitecaps fans to savour for a very long time.
Manneh was the only real choice to start on the left side with Darren mattocks out on international duty and Sebastian Fernandez suspended due to yellow card accumulation.
Manneh’s goal came just before half time. The Whitecaps were under heavy pressure when Mauro Rosales got back possession of the ball in front of the Whitecaps box and found Pedro Morales with a neat forward pass. Manneh, whose marker had left him, then received the ball in plenty of space on the left from Pedro Morales. Manneh had plenty of running room and first made a move to the middle of the pitch at the top of the box before nearly slicing Seattle defender Chad Marshall in half with a vicious cut to the left. He then nutmegged Seattle keeper Frei, (just as he had done to last year’s Seattle keeper Gspurning!), to put the Whitecaps up 1-0 just on the stroke of half time.
The timing of Manneh’s goal was perfect; it was a triumphant blow to Seattle’s confidence just before the break. Furthermore, Manneh had just been gouged in the hip joint by Obafemi Martins, causing him to go down in a lot pain. Manneh scored his goal just before the swelling kicked in, which caused him to leave play at the half. New signing Kianz Frose was called on to replace him, and did a creditable job in spite of looking a bit over-awed by the occasion.
Every man on the pitch played his role for the Vancouver Whitecaps last night, which is a credit to coach Carl Robinson, who coached his best match yet for the Whitecaps. All of the players worked like dogs for Robinson to deny Seattle room to play.
Tenacious defensive midfielders Mathias Laba and Russell Teibert, who are both small in stature but looked like they were ten feet tall last night, were particularly effective and played the games of their lives for the Whitecaps. The Whitecaps played like a big net last night, pressuring and denying space as a team, rather than as individuals. Without Teibert and Laba being so effective, I have no doubt this would have been a loss rather than a win.
Seattle’s hotshot strikers Martins and Dempsey were both frustrated by the lack of space and the physical play of Laba and Teibert. They simply did not know how to cope and created precious few chances to score on the Whitecaps.
When Seattle attempted to go over Laba and Teibert with high balls, Kendall Waston was there to head away virtually every cross that came in. Waston’s performance was commanding and heroic, and the steady Andy O’Brien cleaned up anything else that came along. David Ousted had another rock steady game, catching the high balls that were his cleanly and confidently.
Pedro Morales was magnificent, tackling tenaciously and playing on even though he had leg cramps and his knee kept locking up. It was a true captain’s performance. While the Whitecaps only had 37% of the ball, Morales helped to keep the ball and calm things down at key points, giving our defence a rest from time to time.
The win meant the Vancouver Whitecaps retained the Cascadia Cup, the trophy awarded to the Cascadia team that accumulates the most points against other Cascadia rivals in MLS play.
The win meant Vancouver leap-frogged Portland by one point in the standings for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. With two games left for each team, the Whitecaps have the easier route, playing the already eliminated San Jose Earthquakes and the Colorado Rapids, while the Timbers have to play powerhouses Real Salt Lake and Dallas FC in their final two matches.
The news tonight was that the Portland Timbers have beaten San Jose and have vaulted over the Whitecaps for the final playoff spot. The need for individual Whitecaps players to step up and do extraordinary things has grown greater. Late in the 2013 season a young lad called Kekuta Manneh had an extraordinary game against the Seattle Sounders, scoring a spectacular hat trick in a 4-1 win for the Whitecaps.
If the Whitecaps are to get anything from this Friday’s match in Seattle, we need Manneh to have another great match. With Seb Fernandez suspended and Darren Mattocks off on international duty, he will get his opportunity and he must grab it with both hands. Unless Coach Robinson goes for a very conservative approach, Manneh will start on the left side of midfield.
Manneh has had what can only be described as an underwhelming season. After his extraordinary performance in the Seattle fixture last season we expected more in 2014. Circumstances have now made it possible for him to save his season and show us what happened in Seattle last year was no fluke.
Lets hope Manneh wakes up and helps us get another miracle win over our Cascadia rivals.