VANCOUVER, BC- Playing in front of a home crowd at BC Place for the first time in four weeks, Vancouver Whitecaps FC (11W-11L-8D) were unable to recover from an early deficit as they fell 1-0 to Real Salt Lake (15W-10L-6D).
Real Salt Lake snapped a two-match losing streak in MLS play as they head into their U.S. Open Cup final on Tuesday versus D.C. United.
Head coach Martin Rennie made two changes to last weekend's lineup in Montreal. Russell Teibert returned to the starting lineup for Kenny Miller - who sat with a right adductor strain - while Camilo came in for Matt Watson.
Going into Saturday’s thriller, the ‘Caps had kept a clean sheet in their two previous matches, but Real Salt Lake had plans of their own. Against the run of play, Devon Sandoval finished off a great cross from Lovel Palmer in the ninth minute to give RSL a 1-0 advantage.
However, Sandoval’s goal didn’t seem to phase the ‘Caps as they continued to apply pressure to their Western Conference foes.
On 11 minutes, Vancouver had a chance to respond through a Camilo Sanvezzo free kick from 20 yards out, but the striker’s attempt curled just wide.
Four minutes after RSL’s goal, the Blue and White almost leveled things up courtesy of a flash of individual brilliance from Camilo, who made his return to the starting eleven after scoring two brilliant goals as a substitute last week versus Montreal Impact. The striker carried the ball all the way from the halfway line to the edge of Real Salt Lake’s penalty area then played a terrific through ball into the path of Nigel-Reo Coker, but Jeff Attinella was off his line quickly before the 'Caps midfield general was able to get a shot off.
An equalizer almost came for the home side on 36 minutes. Tommy Heinemann slipped in a clever pass along the ground to Russell Teibert in between two RSL defenders before the Canadian winger blasted a shot at goal, but Attinella was equal to the task, deflecting it out for a corner.
On the last play of the half, Heinemann was involved in another opportunity to equalize. The hulking American striker found his way to the end of a cross from Young-Pyo Lee before sending a header just high.
As action resumed for the second half, Martin Rennie did not hesitate to change the complexion of his attack force. On 55 minutes, the Scottish manager introduced speedsters Darren Mattocks and Kekuta Manneh to replace Gershon Koffie and Tommy Heinemann in hopes of giving the Blue and White a different dimension in their attack.
The substitutions almost paid off immediately as Manneh made a threatening run into RSL’s box resulting in a pair of shots from Mattocks and Teibert, but both shots were blocked by RSL defenders who put their bodies on the line to preserve the slender lead.
On 69 minutes, Teibert appeared to be in on goal all alone after a nifty first touch but a crunching tackle from Chris Schuler halted the Canadian international's run – the referee elected to play on.
Manneh almost brought the crowd to their feet with three minutes to go until full-time. A one-two played by the Gambian with Camilo set-up the 18-year-old with a shot from just outside the box that went agonizing wide.
In the first minute of added time, the Blue and White caught a break as Joao Plata’s line drive struck the outside of David Ousted’s post and went out of play.
The best chance for the home side came in the five minutes of added came when midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker won his team a corner as his attempted cross was deflected. With the sell-out crowd on their feet and everyone in a 'Caps kit, including goalkeeper David Ousted, up for the corner, the ‘Caps searched for a grand finish. In the end, a clearance from Real Salt Lake’s defence averted the danger and sealed the three points for the visitors.
The push to the playoffs will continue in the second leg of the club’s two game home stand next Sunday in a pivotal Cascadia Cup clash versus Portland Timbers, kickoff is set for 5:00 p.m. PT. Tickets are still available at whitecapsfc.com/tickets.
9' - RSL - Devon Sandoval (Lovel Palmer)
Shots: Vancouver 10 – Real Salt Lake 12
Shots on Goal: Vancouver 1 – Real Salt Lake 5
Saves: Vancouver 4 – Real Salt Lake 1
Fouls: Vancouver 11 – Real Salt Lake 13
Offsides: Vancouver 3 – Real Salt Lake 2
Corners: Vancouver 7 – Real Salt Lake 5
51' - VAN - Carlyle Mitchell
63' - VAN - Jay DeMerit
80' - VAN - Jordan Harvey
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
22.David Ousted; 12.Young-Pyo Lee, 24.Carlyle Mitchell, 6.Jay DeMerit, 2.Jordan Harvey; 13.Nigel Reo-Coker, 27.Jun Marques Davidson (14.Daigo Kobayashi 71'), 28.Gershon Koffie (11.Darren Mattocks 54'); 31.Russell Teibert, 29.Tommy Heinemann (23.Kekuta Manneh 54'), 7.Camilo Sanvezzo
Substitutes not used: 18.Brad Knighton, 8.Matt Watson, 16.Johnny Leveron, 19.Erik Hurtado
Real Salt Lake
24.Jeff Attinella; 29.Kenny Mansally (8.Joao Plata 87'), Chris Schuler, 44.Brandon McDonald, 7.Lovel Palmer; 26.Sebastien Velasquez, 14.Yordany Alvarez, 12.Cole Grossman (20.Ned Grabavoy 72'), 21.Luis Gill; 13.Olmes Garcia (17.Chris Wingert 83'), 49.Devon Sandoval
Substitutes not used: 1.Eduardo Fernandez, 4.Arron Maund, 23.Khari Stephenson, 27.John Dtertzer