Whitecaps scrape out road win in DC

July 1, 2013 at 5:31 pm | Posted in Vancouver Whitecaps | Leave a comment

Road wins are a rare commodity in Major League Soccer, rarer still if you are a Vancouver Whitecaps fan. In all of 2011, there were no road wins for the Whitecaps. In 2012 there were three. In 2013 we have two, and the season is only half over. This means the team is improving. Saturday’s road opponent was DC United; a struggling team in last place in the Eastern Conference of MLS.

DCU started Whitecaps old boys John Thorrington, Alain Rochat and Kyle Porter. It was especially tough to see Rochat in another uniform, but I suppose we’ll just have to scratch our heads and get used to it. DCU looked good early but failed to put away chances that fell to De Rosario, Porter and others. DCU striker Pontius had a chance on the penalty spot but Carlyle Mitchell brought him down as he shot. Pontius argued for a penalty, but the ref found against him and the Whitecaps dodged a bullet. Brad Knighton did well to keep DCU from scoring and sent a message to new man Ousted, who will have to do a lot to unseat him for the goalkeeper’s spot.

YP Lee was not on the trip; apparently part of his contract this year was missing one of these massive trips out to the Eastern seaboard. As a consequence, Nigel Reo-Coker slotted in at right back, which was a waste of his talents. Our midfield was rather barren as a consequence, and to say the match was ugly to watch would hardly be an understatement. The midfield of Davidson, Watson and Kobayashi was uninspired, starving the “magic trinity” of Miller, Camilo and Teibert. Teibert had a few chances but Miller and Camilo were mostly dormant.

Teibert found himself alone in the first half near the touchline thanks to some nice blocking play by Miller and slammed a tight angled shot past DC keeper Hamid against the post. He nearly scored again in the second half with a curling left footed cross that Hamid parried away into touch. This match was the first in recent memory where Teibert did not score or set up any goals. The lack of Reo-Coker to work with meant he was mostly starved for the ball.

It was the hard running of Matt Watson that won the day. A nicely weighted through ball from Miller early in the second half saw Watson alone on DC keeper Hamid, who made the fatal goalkeeping error of hesitating for a brief moment. Hamid’s hesitation allowed Watson to touch the ball first and then get clattered by the keeper. It is true that Hamid got a touch of the ball after Watson, but only a slight one, just before bringing Watson down. DC players surrounded the referee, feeling aggrieved by the call, especially after Mitchell’s earlier mugging of Pontius which went unpunished.

The responsibility fell to our penalty taker Camilo, who shot high straight down the middle, hitting the ball so hard it made the back of the goal cage come unhinged for a moment. It was 0-1 Whitecaps.

The Whitecaps have found a new resiliency, and did not give up a late goal as they have so many times in the past. It was not stylish or fun to watch, but three points are three points. Having to tough out a road win on the other side of this vast continent in this league is no small feat.

It was nice to get to see Gershon Koffee get some minutes later on, and it looks like his injury may be healed up. Brad Rusin and Darren Mattocks also got some minutes, but did nothing to either help or hinder the Whitecaps cause. The fact Koffie and Rusin played will provide relief to the Whitecaps, who have been going through an injury crisis of late.

The truth be known it was hard to watch this match, especially when we have seen some spectacular football played in the Confederations Cup recently. It was a match of two very pedestrian sides played with precious little skill or entertainment. Perhaps we will see a better match when we travel to Kansas City midweek. At least we will see a passionate crowd that fills the stadium and embraces its team completely. Some of the attendance figures in these matches hosted by Eastern Conference teams are pathetic, especially when you contrast the 50,000 who showed up to watch San Jose play Los Angeles on the same day.

We must continue to support our home team however, and live in hope that one day the salary cap in MLS will be enlarged so we can watch a better standard of football.

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