Russell Teibert had a breakout match for the Vancouver Whitecaps in a 3-1 victory over MLS glamour club the Los Angeles Galaxy on Saturday afternoon. It is about time. After having played in 19 MLS matches, he had not an assist or a goal to his name. Today that all changed and Russell Teibert proved he belongs in the Whitecaps squad for other reasons than being a token Canadian.
An early injury to starter Daigo Kobayashi put Teibert into the match as a substitute. During the first half Teibert added little impact to the Whitecaps effort, but what a treat we had waiting for us in the second half.
Whatever was put in Teibert’s tea at half time by Martin Rennie made a big difference, as the diminutive Canadian executed the key plays in the second half that won the match for the Whitecaps. The ability to execute key plays was missing in Teibert’s play until tonight. With his performance against LA, Teibert has finally muscled his way into position as a starting player.
The other Whitecaps sleeper who finally woke up was Darren Mattocks, who potted an injury time goal which sealed the match at 3-1. Again, it is about time. While his performance overall was poor, a goal will hopefully give him his confidence back.
With the team looking wobbly going into the match my heart was filled with fear that with four games in the space of two weeks it might turn out to be one defeat after the next. The Seattle Sounders had thumped San Jose 4-0 earlier in the day and if we lost, we would be rooted at the bottom of the Western Conference. Although the Galaxy were missing key man Robbie Keane, Landon Donovan was still buzzing about the pitch, a constant threat to hurt the Whitecaps.
The Galaxy were the better side in the first half, as the Whitecaps tried to re-organize their team after the loss of Kobayashi. Joe Cannon was forced to dive to his left to stop a point blank header early on, and had to be sharp all game (his kicking aside, which was pitiful).
A big part of our win was the pairing of Johnny Leveron and Andy O’Brien, who were solid together in the centre of the back line. Leveron showed he belongs in the MLS; he is a sophisticated footballer with excellent feet. His passing is top notch and he is no slouch in the air either, in spite of being a bit on the small side.
After a luke-warm first half, and with LA looking like they had another gear, the match could have gone either way, but for the play of Russell Teibert. On his first goal in the 63rd minute he got the ball in a bit of room to the right of the Galaxy goal. He took the ball inside, beat a marker, and lined up a left-footed shot that went past three LA defenders and Carlo Cudicini, LA’s goalkeeper. It was a beauty, but his second goal showed even better football awareness and class. Teibert again got the ball on the right and played a perfectly waited pass to Gershon Koffie deep in the box. Koffie outmuscled an LA defender and returned the ball to a charging Teibert, who had timed his run to perfection. He smashed home his second in the 76th minute with another low shot to Cudicini’s right.The Galaxy made a bit of a comeback when the superb Nigel Reo-Coker pulled up with an injury and was taken off for Brad Rusin, who was oddly subbed into the match by Coach Rennie as a central midfielder to replace him in the 85th minute. The Galaxy scored immediately. A perfect cross from Villarreal on the right found LA striker Zardes, who out jumped O’Brien and glanced a perfect header to the far post past a helpless Joe Cannon. It looked a bit shaky for the Whitecaps, and bad memories of giving up leads late in previous home matches started to creep into the mind.
Once on the pitch in central midfiel, Rusin did not know what he was doing, playing too deeply and leaving a big hole for the Galaxy to exploit in midfield. Thankfully O’Brien and Leveron held fast until Mattocks could seal the deal, saving us from being at the bottom of the Western Conference.
In spite of the odd end of game substitution of Rusin for Reo-Coker, Martin Rennie coached a good game and got the best out of the Whitecaps in the second half. With both Mattocks and Teibert finally producing something on the pitch, we can look forward to the next three games rather than fearing them. Lets hope Reo-Coker is rested in midweek and not injured too badly to play next Saturday. He is proving to be the key man in the Whitecaps squad for the 2013 season.
Last Wednesday in a half-empty BC Place stadium the Whitecaps easily dispatched Edmonton FC to get into the final of the Canadian Championship. A powerful and determined Montreal Impact await us.
It brings back those bad memories of the time when Teitur Thordarson’s USL Whitecaps were poised to win the 2009 Championship. Montreal threw the final match against TFC to rob us of the Championship. To their credit, Montreal fans were themselves outraged by the result. Now we have the grudge match to look forward to.
What fight Edmonton FC had was taken away from them by a poor referee decision to send an Edmonton defender off early in the second half. The defender made contact with Cory Hertzog and Herzog went down, but if it was anything it was a yellow card. Hetzog was nowhere near the ball and did not have posession. It was 0-0 a the time. It ruined what was already a tepid match as a contest, and the Whitecaps dominated from then on.
Cory Herzog lit up the game during the second half with a superb volley from 35 yards out. He hit the dropping ball provided by Teibert’s header with perfect timing and Edmonton’s keeper did not stand a chance.
The Whitecaps put on constant pressure, causing the Eddies to score an own goal off of a Teibert corner kick.
The match was unremarkable thanks to the referee, and only whetted the appetite for a titanic clash with the Montreal Impact in the final. The two legs will take a large toll on both clubs with two games, possible extra time and a whole lot of air travel.
I look forward to it, even though it will affect our team in MLS play. After coming up short year after year in the Canadian Championship, it is surely time we won it.
I had to reintroduce myself to the people sitting around me at BC Place yesterday because it has been so long since the last home game that I forgot who they were. It has been five weeks since we last saw the ‘Caps at home, and five weeks since we last saw a win.
The Vancouver Whitecaps got lucky yesterday as they tied a depleted Real Salt Lake 1-1 at BC Place stadium. With Javier Morales playing hobbled with a hamstring injury and Kyle Beckerman leaving the pitch injured very early on, RSL were ripe for the picking. The Whitecaps failed to take advantage. Six games into the season and Whitecaps coach Martin Rennie is still fiddling about with the line up. The absence of Kenny Miller due to a hamstring injury required some change, but the changes the Whitecaps made were not to good effect.
Martin Rennie continued to perplex with his bizarre starting line up. I always thought the best strategy for a football manager was to get your best available 11 men on the pitch. We are now six games into the MLS season and it is apparent that Rennie is still confused about who the best eleven are. Rennie left Koffie and Mattocks on the bench, and threw Russell Teibert and Corey Herzog, two inferior players, on the pitch instead. While I can understand rewarding Herzog for scoring a goal in the last game, the way to reward him was to bring him on as a sub on 60 minutes for Mattocks, the clearly superior player, if Mattocks had not yet scored. While Russell Teibert’s play was competent, he had nowhere near the impact on the game that Koffie does when he plays. Koffie runs more, gets more of the ball, tackles better, and can beat a man with the ball.
While Koffie and Mattocks have not played blindingly well recently, they have been good enough to leave on the pitch. We know Mattocks can score goals; it is just a matter of getting him through a rough patch. If he gets the minutes, he will score. Koffie was not at fault for the losses on the road either. The result was two points dropped at home.
One decision Rennie got right was to start Camilo. Camilo was a one man offence machine. The wee Brazilian was getting chances from long and short distance, coming close to scoring no less than five times in the first half alone. Only an in-form Nick Rimando (perhaps the most unique and entertaining keeper to watch in the MLS) stopped the Whitecaps from scoring.
In the first half RSL were just weathering the storm, and looked like a shadow of the talented football club they have been for the last five years or so. With key man Beckerman out, it looked like RSL would be happy to defend their way to a 0-0 draw. They were half way there by half time.
As it turned out the first bit of football magic in the game came from RSL two-thirds of the way through the game as Olmes Garcia scored with a fantastic curling effort from the left hand side of the box. While some thought Andy O’Brien could have defended better, he was caught marking two men, giving Garcia the room for his beautiful and unstoppable strike. As so often happens in football the team that withstood heavy pressure came back and scored against the run of play. RSL’s goal came in the wake of another outstanding Nick Rimando save off of Nigel Reo-Coker. Reo-Coker was the Whitecaps best player yet again. He is a pleasure to watch.
Mattocks came in for Herzog and Manneh came in for Kobayashi (who was a bit quiet during this match); it was Manneh who really shined, going for a number of lightening quick runs down the left side. While he did not create any goals, he showed us more than he has in his previous appearances. It was actually a poorly hit cross by Manneh which resulted in the penalty which allowed the Whitecaps back into the game with a chance to win it. Manneh’s scuffed cross was intercepted by RSL defenders, one of whom (Borchers) slipped on the slick BC Place turf and handled the ball twice in the process. It was a soft penalty, but it came on 84 minutes, just as a feeling of desperation was creeping into the Whitecaps play. The previously snake-bitten Camilo stepped up and knocked the penalty to Rimando’s left off of the post into the back of the net. What a relief!
While Rimando had more saves and was the star on the day, Joe Cannon saved the match in injury time with a superb tip over the bar from a close range header off of a corner kick. He then caught a cross off of the next corner to steer the Whitecaps home for a point. How great it is to have Joe back playing well. Both sides rode their luck on this day and a draw was what each side deserved.
It was, at the end of the game, two points lost at home to a key Western Conference rival. While it is clear that Martin Rennie is still popular amongst the fans, I am getting tired of his inability to put our best team on the pitch. With a weakened RSL and a boisterous home crowd, this should have been a three point game for the Whitecaps. After a strong start the Whitecaps are slipping into mediocrity with a the stern challenge of back-to- back games against the cream of the league, Dallas FC, awaiting them.
It was looking grim for the Vancouver Whitecaps early in the second half of their match against the San Jose Earthquakes. The Whitecaps looked destined to lose their third road game in a row, being down 1-0 on an early Chris Wandolowski strike. A blunder involving a strangely sluggish Alain Rochat and Jun Marques Davidson (who seems to want to be a part of all of our opponents goals recently) led to a swift and successful counter-attack for San Jose.
Fortunately the Earthquakes have more than their share of big strong dumb guys in their squad. They handed the game back to the Whitecaps on a platter. Victor Bernardez and Alan Gordon (two of the aforementioned big strong dumb guys) decided to change their boots… At the same time! I must say this is the first time I have ever seen this happen. If these players were having problems with their boots, why not change them at half time? Or, why not do it one at a time? It was a wonderful comedy show for us Whitecaps fans, and a tragedy for San Jose fans. I think that one will go down in my Whitecaps memory bank for sure. Frank Yallop looked to blame the ref, but how do you blame the ref for your own team’s stupidity? San Jose’s wardrobe malfunction saved our game.
The Whitecaps pressed their two man advantage home, and even Andy O’Brien was seen surging deep in to San jose’s defensive third, a rare sight indeed for the man from Harrogate. Daigo Kobayashi got the ball at the top of the box, and after a little fake and a deft touch, he unleashed a vicious curling shot which deflected off of a San jose defender and got caught under Cory Herzog’s feet, quite by accident. Luckily for Hertzog his unconscious touch on the ball was a very useful one and he poked the ball passed a stunned Jon Busch into San Jose’s goal.
You could hear Frank Yallop and his bench screaming for the referee to let their two men on, but their pleas went unanswered. Bernardez and Gordon sheepishly walked back on the pitch after the Whitecaps had tied the match. More comedy!
Martin Rennie raised a few eyebrows by parking presumptive starters Gershon Koffie and Darren Mattocks on the bench, preferring Russell Teibert in midfield and Cory Herzog up front. Cory Herzog took full advantage of the opportunity, and even if his goal was a lucky one, he finished his chance and now has a goal on the history books on his debut for the club. Teibert did his chances no harm, showing he can play at this level, even if he did not produce any spectacular results.
In this match it has to be said it was the character and battling spirit of our veterans which saw us through to the draw. Joe Cannon played a superb match, giving a master class on goalkeeping. On several occasions Joe threw himself head first at the feet of onrushing San Jose players at great risk to himself. His courage was exemplary, and he showed his desire to give his all for the team and to keep that number one spot. It was inspirational to watch as a fan.
Another memory that will last was Nigel Reo-Coker’s superb bone crunching tackle on Sam Cronin. Nigel won the ball magnificently and did not draw a foul. Cronin flew through the air as though he had been shot with a high calibre rifle. It was a thing of beauty. I also appreciated Andy O’Brien’s lifting a prone Steven Lenhart off of the pitch when the San Jose player was faking an injury. These displays of tough character are the kind of gestures we Whitecaps fans love to see, and I hope this game helps to define the character and spirit of our team. San Jose is an intimidating team to play against at the best of times and our guys stood up to them.
Not for the first time the superb YP Lee saved a goal in backing up a down and out Cannon in injury time. How lucky we are to have this guy, who looked more alive and nimble than players in the game who are ten years his junior.
In terms of the game of football, the Whitecaps did not really show us much of anything. There were precious few opportunities to score for the Whitecaps. Rennie chose to leave talent on the bench and opt for solidity on the road. He gained a creditable draw by doing so, but was it fun to watch as football? No. A draw on the road is a success for the club however, as games are notoriously difficult to win on the road in Major League Soccer. Thank god this road trip is over.
Roll on RSL next Saturday!