Dane Richards makes his mark in defeat of San JoseJuly 22, 2012 at 11:20 pm | Posted in Whitecaps Season 2012 | 1 Comment
While there has been a lot of fuss over the signings of Kenny Miller and the beginning of Barry Robson’s time here in Vancouver, Jamaican Dane Richards has had a more low profile arrival. Richards was recently traded to us by the New York Red Bulls for Sebastian Le Toux. Frankly, the trade of Le Toux made news, but the arrival of Richards did not. He chose tonight’s match to write his own headlines, however, by scoring a fabulous goal to open the scoring against our West Coast rival the San Jose Earthquakes. Richards speed, timing and intelligent running led to his receiving a perfect pass from the superb YP Lee. His run left him alone with The Earthquakes keeper Busch, and Richards blew the ball past him from a steep angle to give the Whitecaps the lead in the 20th minute.
Darren Mattocks and Richards boast considerable speed up front which is clearly going to torment Major League Soccer defenders for the rest of this year. There really is no substitute for speed in a striker, and even the best defender struggles to cope with it.
The Whitecaps played beautifully tonight, with a tremendous confidence against the team with the best record in MLS. While the Whitecaps gave up a goal to San Jose, they kept prolific striker Wondolowski off of the board, which is no small accomplishment given his goal scoring record this year. Our line-up looked very confident indeed with Rochat, Robson, Lee and Davidson all playing as cool as cucumbers.
The Whitecaps gave up a bizarre goal when they turned a terrific counter-attack opportunity into a counter-counter attack for San Jose by quickly giving up the ball. Darren Mattocks was to blame because he failed to get into a position where his team mate could get the ball to him; he made a poorly timed run and the defender took the ball off of him, gave it to the deadly Marvin Chavez, who crossed it into the box for striker Gordon to head in our net after getting past defender Rochat. The Whitecaps bench claimed Rochat was fouled, but the replay showed Gordon crept up behind Rochat and took his goal without a foul.
Camilo was up to his old tricks again, and did what he does best: he drew a penalty. A deflected Robson shot ended up at his feet in the 60th minute, and he dribbled towards goal. He was clipped by a San Jose defender and went down: the ref first of all waved play on, but the linesman spotted the foul and signalled for a penalty. We got off lucky there, because Camilo had actually played the ball too far in front of him, and would not have scored. Barry Robson picked up the ball immediately, which is in keeping with the leadership role he has taken on. He dispatched the penalty with a terrific booming blast which brought back memories of former Whitecaps (another Scotsman) Peter “Thunderfoot” Lorimer.
The game was also memorable for the debut of Kenny Miller, which really went without any note. It was hilarious to see him struggle with his first touch as a Vancouver Whitecap. It came from a teammate’s pass which took a bizarre bounce off of our plastic grass. Miller looked like someone had thrown him a bag of live poisonous snakes rather than passing him a football! Minutes later he was in alone on the keeper but another high bounce off of the fieldturf seemed to take him by surprise, and the chance fizzled. Other than these two plays his debut really went by without notable incident, though he was given only a small amount of time by Coach Martin Rennie to get a taste of the action.
The Whitecaps defended very deep in their own end towards the end of the match as Camilo came off for Jordan Harvey. The Whitecaps were tempting fate as San Jose pressed forward; the Whitecaps struggled to clear the ball. Unlike some previous home matches the Whitecaps held on to win to a standing ovation from a delighted Vancouver crowd. It was another terrific football match played with skill by both teams. The quality of MLS is impressive and getting better.
It was great to see the Southsiders honour departed striker Eric Hassli in the 29th minute of play. 29 was Hassli’s number when he played for us. Banners were unfurled and chants were chanted for our beloved Eric. I hope they make it a tradition.
The past is the past, however, and Coach Martin Rennie made all of the right calls tonight. It appears as though he is getting things right in the bigger picture as well. The Vancouver Whitecaps have arrived as a team that can beat the best teams in Major League Soccer.