YP Lee the difference as Whitecaps Shock NYRB 1-2June 2, 2013 at 5:39 pm | Posted in Whitecaps Season 2013 | Leave a comment
Away wins are rare in Major League Soccer, even rarer if you are playing in a Vancouver Whitecaps jersey. The Whitecap’s awful away form looked to be repeating itself until an injury to MLS debutant Greg Klazura changed the match. His substitute, YP Lee, showed what a world class footballer can do, as he completely changed the game and set the stage for a rare away win for the Vancouver Whitecaps.
The Whitecaps were in full damage control mode from the outset in this match. Starting midfielders Gershon Koffie and Nigel Reo-Coker were out of the match through injury and suspension respectively, and striker Darren Mattocks was off on international duty. Martin Rennie chose to rest star full back YP Lee, and played Greg Klazura on the right side at full back. This turned out to be the fateful move which would turn the match unexpectedly. Alain Rochat and Matt Watson got the shout to play midfield while Jordan Harvey filled in at left back. Camilo and fit again Kenny Miller were up front, and Russell Teibert played on the right side of midfield.
The Whitecaps were woefully bad in the first half, looking like they had never seen a football before. It looked like they were a bunch of pylons for the Red Bulls to dribble around. To their credit they were a bunch of pylons that were hard to score on, although they were very lucky to survive a Thierry Henri scare when the Frenchman got through alone on Knighton in the third minute only to tap the ball timidly into Whitecaps keeper Brad Knighton’s hands.
Luckily the Red Bulls were almost as bad as the Whitecaps, playing a listless first half in front of a half-empty Red Bull arena. Martin Rennie decided to remind his players they were footballers by running passing drills at half time. I think this was the first time some of the Whitecaps touched the ball in this match.
During the second half the Whitecaps were just as poor, when what little pressure the off-song Red Bulls could muster resulted in a goal. Thierry Henri got the ball at the top of the D, and was closed down by Andy O’Brien. Greg Klazura got star struck, pinched on too close to the middle of the park watching Henri, and failed to notice his man Jonny Steele charging on the outside of him. He dashed back in an attempt to recover and ended up kicking the resulting cross into his own net. It was 1-0 New York. Klazura injured himself on the play, and was substituted a few minutes later. On came YP Lee, and the rest is history.
Lee was magnificent and brought a dead Whitecaps team back to life. He immediately put the Red Bulls under pressure with some magnificent wing play on the right side. He put a cross in the Red Bulls box which was poorly cleared by a New York defender, who inexplicably headed the ball right into the centre of the 18 yard box where a charging Jordan Harvey smashed a perfect volley past Robles in the Red Bulls goal. It was 1-1 in the 58th minute, one minute after YP Lee came into the match.
Not to be too critical, but had Zlazura not left the pitch for Lee, this game would have been lost. It just showed a class player can make all the difference to a team, and the confidence that a player like Lee can bring to a team. Lee lifted the Whitecaps when he came on; it was plain to see.
Kenny Miller also showed his class, and he and Camilo began to sense something special could happen. The Whitecaps looked competitive all of the sudden. Miller’s tireless running put the Red Bulls under pressure, and Miller drew the foul that caused Red Bulls defender Olave to be sent off for a second yellow card in the 74th minute. The game was now there for the Whitecaps to take.
And take it they did, with a goal in the 82nd minute. A nice patient build-up on the right side of the pitch led to a beautiful pass from Davidson to Teibert, who took the ball near the Red Bull’s goal line; he then put the ball on his left foot, dribbled a bit and then lashed a perfect cross to a waiting Miller, who timed his run perfectly at the far post. Miller jumped in front of frozen Red Bull defender Kimura and headed the ball low into the net.
Teibert and substitute Manneh had golden chances to give the Whitecaps an extra goal, but failed to finish. In the fifth minute injury time, NYRB substitute Luyindula split the Whitecaps defence and had Knighton at his mercy. Apparently he had caught Henri’s cold and volleyed the ball tamely into Knighton’s hands as well. It was a bit of luck after all of the bad luck the Whitecaps have had recently. It was a big win for the team and hopefully a boost in confidence. The Red Bulls had led the Eastern Conference going into the match.
What an odd game! It was a makeshift team going into the match, and it looked like one until it got a lift from YP Lee. We got perhaps more than our fair share of luck, but after all the bad luck we’ve had, I’m not complaining.
The Whitecaps now sit four points out of the fifth playoff spot in the Western Conference, but have two games in hand on Colorado, who sits in fifth place. Hopefully this win will give the Whitecaps a boost in confidence going into another tough match next Saturday in Seattle.
The Whitecaps fought hard for their coach Martin Rennie, whose job security got a boost from this superb win. Lets hope this is a game to build on.