Robbo’s Whitecaps crush Red Bulls in first kickMarch 9, 2014 at 10:01 pm | Posted in Vancouver Whitecaps, Whitecaps season 2014 | 2 Comments
Tags: Carl Robinson, first kick, Pedro Morales, Vancouver, Whitecaps
Vancouver Whitecaps 4, New York Red Bulls 1. The Vancouver Whitecaps began to celebrate their 40th anniversary with their traditional opening day win at home. Last years Supporters Shield winners were made to look like fools by the Whitecaps on a rainy 8th of March.
Those of us who complained bitterly during the winter of discontent got our answer from Bob Lenarduzzi and Carl Robinson. The Whitecaps played beautiful football in a style and manner seldom seen by Whitecaps fans since 1974. Perhaps in the days of Rudi Krol and Alan Ball we might have seen similar, but this was special football on a special night.
Our off-season signings Matias Laba, Sebastian Fernandez and Pedro Morales were magnificent, and what’s more, their presence brought the best out of the players from last year’s squad. Nico Mezquida also looked great after coming on as a substitute.
Darren Mattocks atoned for his off season ramblings to the Jamaican press by playing a mature, intelligent game. He and Russell Teibert both look like they have grown up in the off season. Kenny Miller showed terrific leadership, commitment and work rate, finally getting the benefit of some good service from midfield.
The Vancouver Whitecaps edition 2014 is clearly the best Whitecaps team of the MLS era, delighting fans with some intelligent passing and movement, and fantastic footballing touches. Pedro Morales, who came on as a substitute for Mattocks, was dominant in midfield and quickly demonstrated he was the most talented man on the pitch all night. His first touch was superb, his vision of the field was complete, and his execution was clinical. In 25 minutes on the pitch he created one goal and scored another. We truly have our number 10 midfielder, at long last.
Perhaps the best measure of the improvement of the Whitecaps squad was the play of Nigel Reo-Coker. While last year he had to do the work of 2 players, carrying the midfield, in this game he was just one player of eleven doing his job. Our back line of Harvey, DeMerit, Obrien and Beitashour was solid and, what is more, their job was made easier because of Reo-Coker and Laba stopping attacks in midfield. Beitashour looked a bit shaky to begin with but soon settled in after receiving an early yellow card.
Laba got forward in the 34th minute and cracked a shot which flew towards goal only to be blocked by Eckersley’s hand; the referee missed it but the linesman caught it and raised his flag. Miller dispatched the penalty with confidence and apparent ease, sending the keeper the wrong way. The pressure on the Red Bulls had paid off, and it was 1-0 at half time.
Soon after half time Seba Fernandez showed his class, getting the ball from Mattocks 30 yards out and putting a dummy on New York’s defenders before unleashing a cracking curling shot to the left of Luis Robles in the Red Bulls goal. I don’t blame the defenders for being sold that dummy because I am still dizzy myself from it! Fernandez was excellent on the night and was dubbed “man of the match”.
Mattocks gave way to Morales in the 65th minute, and a star was born in Vancouver. Morales began quietly, but after a few passes it became clear the man has a sublime touch on a football. After 12 minutes or so on the pitch he spotted Miller making a perfectly timed run right down the middle of the pitch; he hit a perfect ball right in Miller’s stride. Miller needed only one touch to lob the ball over the advancing and helpless Robles. It was 3-0 and the party was on.
Reo-Coker the Englishman decided not to be outdone by all of the Latin American flair around him, and put a superb move on a Red Bulls defender to give himself some room to charge down the right side of the pitch. He slotted the ball to Morales who hit the ball first time with a flawless shot in to the far corner of the goal from 18 yards. It was 4-0 after 89 minutes.
A late error by a sleepy David Ousted cost the Whitecaps the clean sheet in injury time. A long lofty cross was banged in towards him and he was simply beaten to the ball by Wright-Phillips, who nodded home an easy one. This error was the only stain on an almost perfect performance by the Whitecaps.
While we have to remember we finished last in the league after thrashing Toronto FC on day 1 of the MLS era in 2011, the first match of 2014 demonstrated the Whitecaps are a strong team with great depth.
I can hardly wait until the next match!