COLUMBUS, OH - In their lone regular season meeting of 2012, Vancouver Whitecaps FC (4W-2L-2D) earned a valuable 1-0 away victory over Eastern Conference side Columbus Crew (2W-4L-1D) in Major League Soccer on Saturday evening.
Young-Pyo Lee’s first goal in MLS was all that the Blue and White needed at Columbus Crew Stadium in the Ohio state capital, as Whitecaps FC withstood large amounts of pressure from their hosts to claim their second league win away from home in club history. The result was also Whitecaps FC’s sixth clean sheet of the year and Vancouver’s first-ever win over the Crew.
“First of all, it's an excellent result for us on the road, a long way from home,” said Whitecaps FC head coach Martin Rennie, who remains undefeated in Ohio in regular season action as a head coach. “It was a very hardworking performance. I think tonight was one of the first times this season maybe a couple things bounced our way and went our way. On the road, we know we're going to put up with shots and pressure and crosses and things like that. If we can stick together and make a goal, no matter how that goal comes, obviously we're delighted with that.”
Both sides made just one change to their respective starting line-ups on Saturday, with Rennie bringing Eric Hassli back into Whitecaps FC’s starting XI for the injured Camilo Sanvezzo in a 4-3-3 formation. Columbus, meanwhile, gave Aaron Schoenfeld the start in place of Venezuelan striker Emilio Renteria in front of 11,978 on a cool and overcast night at Crew Stadium.
The first half belonged to the home side, with Columbus having the ball in the Whitecaps FC net on two occasions in the first six minutes, but a foul and an offside decision ruled out those goals from the Crew.
Vancouver’s best chance of the opening half came from Matt Watson on nine minutes, as the English midfielder forced Columbus goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum into a good save before Sebastien Le Toux put the rebound high.
The Crew kept imposing themselves on their Canadian visitors, and on 16 minutes, Josh Williams rattled the Vancouver crossbar with an ambitious bicycle kick from a Nemanja Vukovic corner. The Ohio-based outfit finished the half strongly, as Budweiser Man of the Match Joe Cannon needed to make two fine saves to deny Eddie Gaven and Schoenfeld before the break.
The second half saw more Columbus pressure and Whitecaps FC remaining resilient in keeping the Crew from making the initial breakthrough. Gaven and Tony Tchani were off-target at close range for the home side, while Vancouver had opportunities on the counter-attack, with ‘Caps midfielder Gershon Koffie striking a low shot straight at Gruenebaum on 62 minutes.
The game’s pivotal moment came on 74 minutes after Hassli earned a Whitecaps FC free kick near the Columbus box before coming off for fellow striker Atiba Harris. Lee presided over the set-piece on the right flank, and the former South Korean captain caught Gruenebaum off his goal line, as his right-footed strike sailed over the Crew goalkeeper’s head and into the net to give the ‘Caps a 1-0 lead.
Though it might have been against the run of play, Lee’s goal put Vancouver in pole position for an unlikely win. Both Harris and fellow substitute John Thorrington played their part in helping the ‘Caps manage the final moments of the match. Over three minutes of stoppage time were played before match referee Hilario Grajeda’s final whistle confirmed a second straight win for Whitecaps FC, with Columbus suffering only their second defeat all-time to Canadian opposition.
Whitecaps FC will have a short turnaround, as they embark on their campaign in the 2012 Amway Canadian Championship with a semifinal, first leg, clash at North American Soccer League side FC Edmonton on Wednesday night. Columbus, meanwhile, will look to snap a four-match winless streak on the road versus another Pacific Northwest side in Portland Timbers next Saturday.
Budweiser Man of the Match: Joe Cannon
74' - VAN - Young-Pyo Lee
Shots: Columbus 14 - Vancouver 9
Shots on Goal: Columbus 2 - Vancouver 3
Saves: Columbus 2 - Vancouver 2
Fouls: Columbus 17 - Vancouver 13
Offsides: Columbus 5 - Vancouver 2
Corners: Columbus 9 - Vancouver 2
50' - VAN - Jordan Harvey
67' - VAN - Gershon Koffie
81' - COL - Chad Marshall
87' - COL - Danny O'Rourke
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
1.Joe Cannon; 12.Young-Pyo Lee, 15.Martin Bonjour, 6.Jay DeMerit, 3.Jordan Harvey; 28.Gershon Koffie, 27.Jun Marques Davidson, 16.Matt Watson; 7.Sebastien Le Toux, 29.Eric Hassli (9.Atiba Harris 74’), 17.Omar Salgado (11.John Thorrington 83’)
Substitutes not used: 18.Brad Knighton, 13.Michael Nanchoff, 19.Carlyle Mitchell, 20.Davide Chiumiento, 32.Greg Klazura
30.Andy Gruenebaum; 21.Sebastian Miranda, 14.Chad Marshall, 3.Josh Williams, 32.Nemanja Vukovic; 12.Eddie Gaven, 5.Danny O'Rourke, 10.Milovan Mirosevic, 6.Tony Tchani; 17.Olman Vargas (20.Emilio Renteria 70’), 34.Aaron Schoenfeld (13.Ethan Finlay 57’)
Substitutes not used: 28.Matt Lampson, 15.Kirk Urso, 16.Eric Gehrig, 22.Cole Grossman, 29.Shaun Francis