A memorable night for Whitecaps FC at Empire Field

Another wildly entertaining affair in Vancouver

Jay Nolly New England Revolution save

Photo Credit: 
Bob Frid

Another match at Empire Field, another wildly entertaining affair.

Six yellow cards, three ejections, and two Eric Hassli jerseys. It's becoming habit that Vancouver Whitecaps FC home matches are some of the most enthralling, plot-filled, crazy, mind-numbingly exciting sporting spectacles that have ever been witnessed in Vancouver.

WATCH: Full match highlights

“We’ve given fans three awesome games,” said goalkeeper Jay Nolly after a thrilling 1-1 draw at home against New England Revolution. “First one we were great in scoring, second one we came back, and this one, we held on and showed heart. I think that’s the character of this team and what the club has put together. We’re trying to stick together and work hard for 90 minutes each game.”

Whitecaps FC fans surely thought that they'd seen it all. But alas, the surprises keep on coming.

The first real bit of intrigue came midway through the first half when Terry Dunfield - filling in for Jay DeMerit as captain - was forced to leave the match with an injury. Luckily for Teitur Thordarson's men, John Thorrington - the last remaining team captain - was available for the first time this season and brought a sense of calmness to the home side.

“I don’t think when Teitur named three captains, he figured that only one would be available,” said Thorrington. “But that was the case tonight. When the chips are down, that’s where experience helps bring the younger guys through what was a tough situation."

The plot thickened when referee Baldomero Toledo sprung a straight red card on Thorrington’s fellow central midfielder Gershon Koffie just before the break. The 'Caps, though, remained organized, switching to a 4-4-1 formation after the break, with Atiba Harris sliding in on the right and Hassli coming on at striker.

Ten minutes into the second half, the crowd was given reason to roar, as Camilo was taken down in the box. Hassli - who started on the bench in favour of Camilo and Harris - stepped up to drill the 'Caps to a 1-0 lead. The big striker though, felt that it was getting a bit hot and took off one of the two jerseys that he was wearing, earning a second yellow and subsequent red and putting his team down to nine men.

“Being two men down is a big challenge, but being down 3-0 in the 73rd minute on Saturday was even more of a challenge and we came behind from that,” said Thorrington. “That’s the kind of attitude you need to win in this league, and it’s the attitude the team has shown.”

WATCH: Nolly makes key save

Fans were on their feet, as Whitecaps FC nearly pulled off another miracle result, but Ilija Stolica potted a last-gasp goal to pull the visitors level, forcing Vancouver to settle for a 1-1 draw. The home fans though, remained on their feet, applauding another astonishing game at Empire Field.

“The fans are unbelievable,” said defender Jonathan Leathers. “Everybody gets that extra 20 per cent boost from the fans. Every team that’s come here has been in awe of the fans. It’s a great set up - you can’t beat it. It helps a lot; even when we’re fatigued, we push through and we play for them.”