Vancouver Whitecaps FC rang in the changes big time on Thursday and it paid off with a 3-0 win over 10-man Real Salt Lake.
Carlyle Mitchell made his debut at centre back, Alain Rochat reverted to his favored left fullback position, Jordan Harvey was reborn as a winger, and Nizar Khalfan returned from the wilderness and even scored a goal.
Oh, and Long Tan started up front.
“I thought Long Tan had a really good day up top,” head coach Tom Soehn told MLSsoccer.com after the 3-0 win. “He worked hard and created a lot. Mitchell - coming in at the back - he gave us some bite and real athleticism. He did a good job of communicating and holding a high line. We did a good job of staying organized, but all in all, I still go back to the group effort. It was a really good group performance.”
HIGHLIGHTS: WHITECAPS FC 3, REAL SALT LAKE 0
Mitchell’s debut was a clean sheet - the club’s first win and shutout since August 27 against Houston Dynamo at Empire Field.
“I thought he played well,” Joe Cannon said after the game. “It was probably a nice night for him. Probably about half the game we were up a man, so it was nice. I thought he had a bit of bite to him - a good first game.”
“Today is good,” Camilo said. “I scored and we won the game.
“For me, it’s good [to lead the team in scoring], but [Hassli] is the big player on this team. He supports us younger players and shows us everything - it’s good for me.”
The match was also a chance for Khalfan to come in and prove he’s worth a spot on next season’s roster. The Tanzanian hadn’t started since early July and marked his return with a cracker of a goal in the 88th minute, which also happened to be his first in the league.
“I felt good [when Soehn said I would play],” Khalfan said. “I was waiting for a chance like this. I spent a long time and I didn’t get a chance in a game. So when coach said yesterday I was going to start today, I said I would do my best.”
Martin MacMahon covers Vancouver Whitecaps FC for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on Twitter: @martinmacmahon