Kudo horror, Perez glory: ‘Caps beat ChicagoMay 12, 2016 at 10:05 pm | Posted in Vancouver Whitecaps, Vancouver Whitecaps 2016, Whitecaps Season 2016 | 2 Comments
Tags: Blas Perez, Chicago Fire, Masato Kudo, Pedro Morales, Vancouver Whitecaps
Anyone who thinks soccer is for wimps should have been at BC Place on Wednesday night for the Vancouver Whitecaps verses the Chicago Fire.
The ordinarily sleepy Wednesday night Major League Soccer match was punctuated by two extraordinary moments: one a horrific injury, and one a spectacular goal.
The hapless Chicago Fire came to town having played less matches than the Whitecaps and with a poor record to boot. It was hoped it would be an easy night for Carl Robinson’s side, which had played some very nice football and created a lot of goal scoring chances the Saturday previous against the Portland Timbers.
Robbo started Masato Kudo up front, with a supporting offensive midfield cast of Bolanos, Mezquida and Techera. Pedro Morales played in deep midfield alongside Mathias Laba. Jordan Harvey set an MLS record for the most Whitecaps appearances at left back, and was supported on the back line by Waston, Parker and Aird. Ousted was in goal, as usual.
Early in the match Laba put a ball over the top of Chicago’s defence for Kudo to chase down. Chicago keeper Matt Lampson came to meet the ball and Kudo, who had been looking back over his shoulder, had no time to stop to avoid a big collision.
Lampson’s right shoulder caught Kudo square in the jaw and the little Japanese striker was thrown backwards like he had been hit by a speeding train. Later footage showed Kudo was knocked out cold with blood gushing from both corners of his mouth. All players stopped playing immediately and gave assistance to him while multiple physios and doctors ran on to the pitch. Kudo was eventually taken away on a little motor cart while conscious, but looked as though he had no idea where he was or what was happening. It was truly horrific and we can only hope the little guy has not suffered permanent concussion damage. Word came through the next day that he had lost some teeth and broken his jaw in two places. He needed surgery to repair the damage done. Chicago keeper Lampson was not to blame and a collision was unavoidable. To his credit Lampson sent his well wishes to Kudo later via Twitter.
Blas Perez came on to replace the stricken Kudo up front. It was expected that Perez would appear later, but Kudo’s misfortune set the stage for a memorable night for Perez.
The Whitecaps started brightly after the long delay and only the efforts of Lampson kept the Whitecaps off the scoreboard. Mezquida was robbed from close range by Lampson, who looked confident and unshaken by the nasty early incident. Ousted robbed Chicago striker Igboananike on a breakaway soon after and the night looked like it was turning into a goalkeeper’s duel.
The Whitecaps broke the deadlock after 35 minutes as Morales, who is looking more and more comfortable and useful spraying the ball around the pitch in deep midfield, set Bolanos free on the fight flank with a perfectly weighted back spinning ball. Bolanos fired in a low cross which a Chicago defender got a piece of only to deflect the ball on to a changing Perez, who bundled in his first goal for the Whitecaps. It was 1-0 and it looked like it might be a very fruitful night. The rest of the half provided no joy for the home side however and it remained 1-0.
The effects of fatigue began to show as the Whitecaps came out sluggish in the second half. This was the same team that had played on the previous Saturday. Jordan Harvey, who had cause to celebrate his record appearances for the Whitecaps, looked a bit tired all night, and it was he who was undone by some tricky and quick footwork from striker Igboananike. The Chicago striker fired low from just inside the penalty area at a strangely out of position and unprepared Ousted, beating the big Dane with a rather tame looking low shot to keeper’s left side. It was 1-1 on 62 minutes.
Kekuta Manneh came on for Mezquida on 66 minutes and nearly put the Whitecaps ahead with a headed ball which went over the bar. He and Techera, who similarly headed a cross over the bar from directly in front of goal in the first half, need to get some heading practice going soon.
At this stage of the match Chicago was hunkering down in their own end trying to get away with a tie. The Whitecaps poured down the field enjoying lots of possession in Chicago’s half. Chicago nearly stole the game with ten minutes to go as the very lively Igboananike hit the near post from a steep angle on a brilliantly executed counter attack.
Despite some very promising and creative approach play and lots of corner kicks, we fans began to resign ourselves to a dreaded home draw. Then something special happened with two minutes of time left.
Some lovely approach play involving multiple Whitecaps players including Manneh, Bolanos, Perez, and Morales moved the ball deep into Chicago’s defensive third. Morales passed the ball to Hurtado, who then passed a low cross in for Manneh to strike from 12 yards out. A defender blocked the shot, only to have the ball spin high into the air towards Perez. From the moment this happened you could see a bicycle kick was on, and there was a glint in Perez’ eye for all to see. Perez flung himself into the air with his back to goal and kicked the ball from just in front of a defender’s head. Perez used all of his tall frame to reach the ball at a high point. The ball came down off of his foot with pace and easily beat Lampson who did not bother to even move.
Perez delayed his celebration, not knowing if the ball was in the net or if referee Baldomero Toledo would call a foul for a dangerous high kick. To Toledo’s credit, he pointed for a goal rather than a foul, recognizing the great football moment he had just witnessed. Cue a fantastic goal celebration by a delighted Perez. His teammates both from on the field and off it squashed him as he lay helpless on the ground in front of the wildly celebrating Southsiders.
We fans went absolutely bonkers, delighted that we had seen one of the best goals in Vancouver professional soccer history.
The Whitecaps saw the match out and more celebration ensued. The only thing that sobered us up was the concern for Masato Kudo, whose fate was not know at the time.
Pedro Morales played a key part in both goals with his excellent passing. It looks as though the Chilean has found that his new role as a deeply positioned Pirlo-like distributor suits him just fine. It looks like Robinson is hoping that this less physically demanding role will preserve Morales’ rather fragile body so we can use him more often. So far, so good.