Don't stop believing: Robinson's halftime talk pays off

Robinson's message at half: "We can dig ourselves out of this"

Two goals down at halftime away to Real Salt Lake, there probably weren't many betting on a Vancouver Whitecaps FC comeback.

But that's exactly what happened on Saturday, as the Uruguayan duo of Nicolás Mezquida and Sebastián Fernández scored a late goal apiece after coming off the bench to ensure a 2-2 draw for the visitors.

First, Mezquida scored a poacher's effort in the 86th minute, tapping in a rebound generated by a Darren Mattocks shot past Nick Rimando, who uncharacteristically spilled the ball into the diminutive attacker's path.

Then, in stoppage time, Fernández unleashed a cracking strike from distance which took a hop before beating Rimando to salvage the point for Vancouver.

“I said to the group in there, it shows if you're losing a game, even in the last minute, we're 2-0 down at halftime at a difficult place, but we can get out of it,” Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson told Vancouver radio station TEAM 1410 following the match. “I believe we can. What it showed me, is that they believe they can as well, and rightly so they did believe they could and we got our reward.

“But character wise, unbelievable, [it] really was.”

Still, as satisfying as the late comeback was, Vancouver found themselves in that hole to begin with by conceding two goals within the first nine minutes. 

First, Joao Plata burst through to bag the opener two minutes in, before Alvaro Saborio picked the top left corner after a nice bit of individual skill from Ned Grabavoy in the ninth minute.

The 'Caps recovered to an extent between the goals and halftime without causing much in the way of dangerous opportunities, but came out of the break with renewed enthusiasm.

“There were a few beeps and there was a few things in there,” Robinson said, self-censoring his recollection of his halftime talk. “But the main point I tried to put across, is that they didn't believe in themselves, and I don't know why, because I watch them train every day....I just said, listen, we dug ourselves a hole, you know, football's a funny game.

“We can dig ourselves out of this hole. The next goal obviously will be crucial, and we have to make sure we have a go at it. From the first minute of the second half, as poor as we were in the first half, and as much as they dominated the first half, we were exactly the same in the second. I think we thoroughly deserved it.”

Martin MacMahon covers Vancouver Whitecaps FC for MLSsoccer.com.

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