Our Vancouver Whitecaps FC put an end to New York Red Bulls seven game unbeaten streak on Saturday and in the process earned their first road victory of the year.
So what did we learn?
Our ‘Caps rode into New York to play the top team in the Eastern Conference, unbeaten in seven matches.
Coming off a disappointing Amway Canadian Championship finale, and having to leave for New York the next day and arriving at the hotel at around 1 a.m., things were not looking good.
No Nigel Reo Coker, no Gershon Koffie, no Darren Mattocks … no problem.
Highlights: New York Red Bulls 1-2 Vancouver Whitecaps FC
Somehow, someway, our boys pulled together, fought off physical and mental fatigue, and did what some may have thought was unthinkable to get their first road win of the season in unlikely circumstances.
They rode their luck at times, but they scored important goals when needed. This was a character performance that should make every Whitecaps fan a believer in this squad of Martin Rennie’s.
And with that win, we can calm down, take a deep breath, and really look at things in a rational perspective. If you take the last four games the ‘Caps played prior to Saturday, they beat MLS Cup champs LA Galaxy 3-1, went to Montreal and shut down the Impact for their first time at home 0-0, tied a rested Portland Timbers side 2-2 at home on what could have been a win on another day, and then tied Montreal at home again when we also should have won.
Save for a select few moments, those were four solid performances that deserved better results. There was no need to ever panic. Yes, there have been issues that need to be remedied, but the base is most definitely there. You can see that this team is really close to breaking through.
As a team our ‘Caps could have gone into Red Bull Arena and felt sorry for themselves. But no, this team showed us that they are very much in the mix for a playoff run and that they are a team we can be proud of.
Welcome back Kenny Miller
Many of you may think I put this in because of his winning goal versus New York, and yes you would be partially right.
But the main reason Mr. Miller gets a mention is because of the little things he does on the field that makes other players on his team better.
Kenny Miller scores the winner vs. New York
Kenny is the best player we have at the “number ten” role just behind the striker, where he finds little pockets of space that the opposing defenders find hard to track. Through his experience, he knows when to pressure the defenders, which sometimes leads to turnovers in the attacking third. He also knows how to find the back of the net.
He is also the best player we have at posting up, receiving the ball, and bringing his teammates into the play. Watching Saturday’s match, you could see that this certainly took some of the pressure off Camilo.
Kenny, we missed you.
A number of traveling supporters made the long trek out to New York to watch Saturday’s match live at Red Bull Arena, and despite the fact that we were heavy underdogs they were as loud and proud as ever throughout the match, cheering the team on to an important victory.
Fans chant at Whitecaps FC Viewing Party at Library Square
Back here in Vancouver we held a Whitecaps FC Viewing Party at Library Square Public House with a bunch of rowdy ‘Caps fans, led by supporters group Rain City Brigade. The energy was electric, especially as we made our comeback.
On the field it was a tough couple of weeks, but this constant, unwavering support just goes to prove that this sport and this club continues to grow. For those who keep the faith, the joy of such a big win feels that much better because of your close bond to the team. And for the players, it is for those who are the most committed who they feel the most pride for when they get these types of results.
No doubt, we have some of the best supporters in Major League Soccer.