From hard luck to pure luck - The Province

Whitecaps 1 Rhinos 0. Vancouver finally rewarded with goal

Marc Weber

It just wasn't Eddy Sebrango's night on Saturday. Then, all of a sudden, it was.

The Vancouver Whitecaps forward went from hard luck to pure luck in an instant as the home side recorded a well-deserved

1-0 victory over the Rochester Rhinos in front of 4,762 fans at Swangard Stadium.

Sebrango had tried to set the tone just five minutes in, but his shot slammed off the cross bar and straight down off the goal line.

In the 31st, his header beat Rhinos goalkeeper Scott Vallow but was cleared off the line by a defender. Then in the 71st, he just missed converting a Martin Nash corner kick.

Sebrango's plight encapsulated the kind of night the Whitecaps were having.

They dominated the first half yet had nothing to show for it. They were in danger of continuing the missed-opportunity theme laid down in a 1-0 loss to Minnesota two weeks ago.

Finally, in the 76th minute, Sebrango and the Whitecaps were handed a gift when Vallow was challenged by a hard-charging Alfredo Valente and couldn't control the ball in close.

It ricocheted to the Cuban-born striker, who was wide open for a n easy tap-in.

"It was not the best play, but it's a goal," said Sebrango, who has both Vancouver markers on the season and almost added insurance in the 83rd minute.

"We were playing really well," he said. "We were creating chances but it wasn't going in.

"You have to always keep yourself concentrated and hopefully you get a bounce."

"I think it was one of those games where we deserved a goal like that," said Valente, who recorded his 100th career point -- all with Vancouver -- on the goal.

In time added on, Rochester (0-3-1) was awarded a free kick just outside the box but Steve Guppy's attempt deflected off the wall and went wide.

Outside of that brief moment of concern, it was pretty much one-way traffic.

Final shots were 14-3, corners were 12-2, and Vallow kept his side in it with eight saves.

"If it wasn't for him, it could have been 3-0, easy," said Valente.

It was also a very physical game with some hard tackles and five yellow cards handed out.

Head coach Teitur Thordarson made two changes to his starting lineup as Tony Donatelli replaced Vicente Arze in midfield and Omar Jarun stepped in for Jeff Clarke at the back.

Arze was only returning today from finishing up his schooling in Georgia.

The Whitecaps (2-1-0) are now on the road for six of their next seven games, taking on the L.A. Galaxy in Edmonton on Tuesday before facing USL-1 rivals Miami (May 16) and Montreal (May 19).

"It's going to be a challenge, especially with the travelling," said Sebrango. "But we're very fit, I think we're going to do fine."

© The Vancouver Province 2008