BY MARC WEBER
Well before Marcus Haber scored the tying goal Sunday evening, he planted the winning goal in Gordon Chin's mind.
"The guys were saying it was my time," said Chin, whose 86th-minute 15-yard rocket off the underside of the crossbar earned the Vancouver Whitecaps a 2-1 win over the Austin Aztex at Swangard Stadium. Vancouver (10-10-9) can still catch Rochester for sixth place with a win Friday combined with a Rhinos loss.
"Marcus said he had a dream about me scoring, and in the dressing room before the game, Jay [Nolly] said he had a feeling today was the day. Hopefully they keep on dreaming about me scoring."
Chin is an immensely likable player. His work rate is top notch. He tackles hard (he picked up a yellow card Sunday). And he's from Burnaby, playing in his back yard. The crowd's response for his first goal of the season — on his 21st shot — was acknowledgment of more than the lead it gave the Caps.
"It felt amazing — my first goal at Swangard after so long," said a beaming Chin, who started his professional career with Vancouver in 2003, going goalless in 14 games. "It was my niece's birthday [Saturday], too, so I had tons of family out and I was scrambling to get tickets."
The Whitecaps had to scramble to rescue victory Sunday after conceding what they thought to be an offside goal early in the second half. It might have been, but it was the third parting-of-the-Red-Sea moment from a disorganized Vancouver within minutes of the restart, and it seemed a deserved punishment.
The game shifted dramatically because of two things: Austin forward Gifton Noel-Williams was red carded for a nasty studs-up tackle on Kenold Versailles in the 77th minute, and Caps head coach Teitur Thordarson brought on the fresh, fast legs of Marcus Haber and Randy Edwini-Bonsu, switching to a 3-4-3 formation with Charles Gbeke staying on up front.
Chin set up Haber for a header equalizer in the 80th, and Edwini-Bonsu terrorized the Aztex with his darting, dazzling runs, setting the table for Chin's winner.
"Both Randy and Marcus, they made their marks today," said the coach.
The small-picture view of Sunday's result is that it gives the Caps a boost of confidence as the playoffs near. The big picture is more tantalizing — a pair of young Canadian national pool players making consistent contributions for the Whitecaps.
Haber is from Vancouver; residency forward Edwini-Bonsu from Edmonton. They were teammates on Canada's under-20 team.
"The time was short but I thought we displayed a lot of professionalism in the last 20 minutes and it was a great win," said Edwini-Bonsu. "We know each other so well and we have that chemistry. It would be awesome to get some minutes with him."
Jarvis Holmes scored for Austin, who benefited from an outstanding performance by goalkeeper Miguel Gallardo.
Vancouver played without injured captain Martin Nash for the fourth straight game and also lost midfielder Nizar Khalfan to an ankle injury early in the first half.
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