VANCOUVER, BC - In the final game of a three-match home stand, Vancouver Whitecaps FC (7W-3L-5D) were held to a 1-1 draw by Eastern Conference club New York Red Bulls (8W-4L-3D) on Wednesday evening.
In what was a well-contested midweek clash, Martin Bonjour gave Whitecaps FC the lead with a fine second-half finish on Bell Pitch at BC Place. However, the Red Bulls made it a third straight 1-1 result in Major League Soccer between these two clubs, as recent New York acquisition Heath Pearce levelled matters with a close-range header. Though Vancouver extended their undefeated streak to five matches in MLS, they were disappointed not to earn a third-straight home win after conceding in the dying stages of Wednesday’s match.
“It was one of those games, where when you lose a late goal, it feels like a defeat,” said Whitecaps FC head coach Martin Rennie. “That’s one of the first times a team has come and sat quite deep against us, as New York played a 4-5-1 formation. When that happens, you have to take your chances. We didn’t take some chances, but then we managed to get ourselves a good goal. The disappointing thing would be that we didn’t see the game out. First ball, the linesman gave a corner or a goal kick, which turned into a corner, so that was a bit frustrating, but then we didn’t defend it right, so that’s very avoidable on our part. It’s something that we have to learn from.”
The BC Place roof was unsurprisingly open for the first evening of summer in Vancouver, and a crowd of 20,060 saw a competitive first half, with Whitecaps FC looking to continue the momentum they built from the last two home wins. Davide Chiumiento was active again in Vancouver’s attack, with the Swiss playmaker just missing the top corner of the New York goal with a solid strike from the edge of the Red Bulls box on 12 minutes. The early chance came from good passing play, and that was on display again on 28 minutes, as Chiumiento provided Gershon Koffie with an excellent chance that the Ghanaian youngster struck wide.
Making his return to the starting XI for the suspended Darren Mattocks, Camilo Sanvezzo was also a threat for the Blue and White in the first half. The Brazilian’s best chance came on 32 minutes after Jun Marques Davidson intercepted a poor Red Bulls clearance. The Japanese midfielder found Koffie, who then fed Camilo in the New York box, but the South American import rolled his shot wide of the target.
On the other side of the ball, the Red Bulls showed they are a team full of quality this season after creating chances before the break. Dax McCarty had New York’s two best opportunities in the first half, starting with an early header at Whitecaps FC goalkeeper Joe Cannon before heading an unmarked chance across the face of the Vancouver goal on 41 minutes. It was goalless at halftime.
With the game still in the balance, the second half proved as intriguing to watch, as the opening 45 minutes. The ‘Caps pressed hard to make the initial breakthrough, but Camilo was unable to connect properly with Sebastien Le Toux’s pass in the New York box on 56 minutes before substitute Eric Hassli made his presence felt with a booking and a shot that went just wide of the near post on 70 minutes. As for New York, their attacking contribution after the break saw Cannon make saves from the dangerous Red Bulls pair of Joel Lindpere and Dane Richards.
The game’s opening goal came on 75 minutes, and it was Whitecaps FC that got supporters to their feet at BC Place with a first goal in MLS for Bonjour. After New York failed to clear a Vancouver corner, Chiumiento’s cross from the right deflected off of Alain Rochat to an unmarked Bonjour. With time to pick his spot, the Argentine centre back showed a striker’s touch by curling a right-footed shot past Red Bulls goalkeeper Ryan Meara and into the far corner of the net for a 1-0 ‘Caps lead.
The goal prompted New York to push forward in a bid to avoid a second straight defeat on the road. Connor Lade headed straight at Cannon from Richards’ bouncing cross on 78 minutes, but the Red Bulls remained persistent and equalized from a well-taken short corner on 86 minutes. Lindpere’s cross found several unmarked New York players in Whitecaps FC’s six-yard box, and it was Pearce that headed home the first goal of his MLS career to make it 1-1.
It was a disappointing end for the home team, as Rennie’s side were keen to take maximum points from all of this month’s home games before embarking on an extended road swing that begins this Saturday night at defending MLS Cup champions LA Galaxy. As for New York, they return home and prepare for a crucial top-of-the-table clash versus Eastern Conference rivals D.C. United at Red Bull Arena on Sunday.
Budweiser Man of the Match: Martin Bonjour
75' - VAN - Martin Bonjour (Davide Chiumiento, Alain Rochat)
86' - NY - Heath Pearce (Joel Lindpere)
Shots: Vancouver 10 – New York 11
Shots on Goal: Vancouver 1 - New York 6
Saves: Vancouver 5 - New York 0
Fouls: Vancouver 7 - New York 14
Offsides: Vancouver 7 - New York 4
Corners: Vancouver 3 - New York 2
14' - NY – Dane Richards
19' - NY – Joel Lindpere
67' - VAN – Eric Hassli
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
1.Joe Cannon; 12.Young-Pyo Lee, 15.Martin Bonjour, 6.Jay DeMerit, 4.Alain Rochat; 28.Gershon Koffie (23.Long Tan 90'), 27.Jun Marques Davidson, 11.John Thorrington; 37.Camilo Sanvezzo (29.Eric Hassli 64'), 7.Sebastien Le Toux, 20.Davide Chiumiento (3.Jordan Harvey 80')
Substitutes not used: 18.Brad Knighton, 13.Michael Nanchoff, 19.Carlyle Mitchell, 26.Floyd Franks
New York Red Bulls
18.Ryan Meara; 25.Brandon Barklage, 5.Markus Holgersson, 3.Heath Pearce, 7.Roy Miller; 11.Dax McCarty, 8.Jan Gunnar Solli, 20.Joel Lindpere (44.Victor Palsson 90+1'), 16.Connor Lade; 19.Dane Richards, 33.Kenny Cooper (27.Jhonny Arteaga 90')
Substitutes not used: 24.Jeremy Vuolo, 2.Wilman Conde, 12.Jonathan Borrajo, 13.Ryan Maduro, 22.Stephen Keel