COMMERCE CITY, CO – Vancouver Whitecaps FC (12W-12L-9D) saw their playoff hopes come to a heartbreaking end in a 3-2 loss to Colorado Rapids (14W-10L-9D) Saturday afternoon at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
Rookie Kekuta Manneh notched his fourth goal in the last two games and Camilo scored his 19th goal of the season but it wasn’t enough to get Vancouver the single point they needed to stay alive in the Western Conference playoff race.
A brace from Panamanian Designated Player Gabriel Torres, coupled with rookie Deshorn Brown’s team-leading 10th goal of the season, helped Colorado extend their home unbeaten streak to nine matches.
It was a thrilling match that saw two penalties and two world-class strikes – one from each team – but unfortunately for the Blue and White, it ended in heartbreak. Whitecaps FC now trail Colorado by six points going into next weekend's rematch at BC Place. Despite setting new club records in points and wins this season, the 'Caps are therefore eliminated from playoff contention.
Martin Rennie’s starting lineup remained unchanged after a dominant 4-1 win over rival Seattle Sounders FC October 9 at CenturyLink Field.
Manneh made his first back-to-back start in MLS after scoring a hat-trick in Vancouver’s last outing. Last week, the Gambian opened the scoring just 12 minutes into the match and he was involved again early.
In the 14th minute, Manneh broke through after a nifty one-two with Camilo, but the rookie’s right-footed effort trickled just wide of the far post. It was another dangerous build-up play from the ‘Caps, who continue to cause trouble for opposing defences down the right flank.
Colorado also had a pair of half-chances early, including a free kick from Vicente Sanchez in the 12th minute, but neither proved to be much trouble for goalkeeper David Ousted.
The most dangerous Rapids player in the opening 45 minutes was no doubt Brown, who came close to opening the scoring on separate occasions. First, a deflected cross landed at his feet in the 22nd minute, but Brown ripped it first-time well over the bar.
Just two minutes later, Sanchez sent the rookie in all alone with a perfectly-weighted through ball from midfield, but Ousted did well to close the angle and Brown poked the ball just wide of the right post.
Many consider Brown to be one of the leading candidates for MLS Rookie of the Year, but it was Vancouver’s rookie who put his stamp on the match first.
After a receiving a pass a few yards outside the Rapids box, Manneh took a touch and silenced the home crowd with a clinical finish in the 32nd minute. The rookie didn’t have much space, but he made no mistake and curled a right-footed strike into the top right corner of the goal to give the ‘Caps a 1-0 lead.
Midfielder Daigo Kobayashi, who made the pass to Manneh, has now registered an assist on three of Manneh’s four goals over the last two matches.
Vancouver’s lead didn’t last long, as the ‘Rapids got on the board in the 41st minute. The Rapids were awarded a penalty after the referee deemed that Carlyle Mitchell had an arm wrapped around defender Drew Moor, who went to ground in the box with a Sanchez free kick approaching.
Torres stepped up to the spot and equalized with a side-footed effort that flew just beyond the outstretched arms of Ousted, as the Western Conference foes went into the break all square.
It was clear that neither side was satisfied with a single point, however, as things opened up dramatically in the opening stages of the second half.
Manneh had the first real opportunity in the 50th minute. The ball fell to the 18-year-old at the top of the box after a Whitecaps FC corner was cleared away, but the Gambian’s volley was blocked and his rebound sailed over the goal.
On the ensuing goal kick, Rapids goalkeeper Clint Irwin found Brown down field with an accurate goal kick that eluded both Mitchell and Young-Pyo Lee. Ousted was quick off his line but there was not much the Dane could do, as Brown chipped a side-footed effort into the back of the net to give Colorado their first lead of the game.
With their season hanging in the balance, the ‘Caps manufactured an inspired response to Colorado’s go-ahead marker.
In the 53rd minute, a curling left-footed cross from Jordan Harvey just eluded a sliding Camilo in the middle of the box. A few minutes later, Matt Watson broke in after a clever Camilo dummy, but the Englishman toe-poked it just inches wide of the left post.
Finally, the ‘Caps caught a break in the 75th minute, when defender Shane O’Neill hauled down Harvey in the Rapids box. To no one’s surprise, the ‘Caps were awarded a penalty on the play and Camilo converted with ease to level the game at 2-2.
In an unexpected turn of events, Colorado re-gained the lead just two minutes later and their previous two goalscorers were both in the middle of the action. Brown started the play with a switch from the left side and Torres finished it with a brilliant strike that hit the inside of the crossbar before bouncing into the goal.
The ‘Caps sent everyone forward in the dying stages of the match, including substitutes Darren Mattocks and Kenny Miller, but in the end Torres’ marker proved to be the difference in a spirited afternoon affair at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
"It’s very disappointing, but we still may have an impact on who gets into the playoffs," Rennie told reporters after the match. "Next week’s a huge game for us. We owe our fans a really big performance. They’ve been incredible for us all season long and we’ll be really fired up and going at it all guns blazing."
Whitecaps FC wrap up their 2013 MLS regular season on Sunday, October 27 when they host the Rapids in the back half of their home-and-home series.
The regular season finale will also be Whitecaps FC’s Fan Appreciation Night. A number of activations are planned to thank fans for their continued support.
Tickets are still available at whitecapsfc.com/tickets.
Budweiser Man of the Match: Kekuta Manneh
Referee: Armando Villarreal
32' - VAN - Kekuta Manneh (Daigo Kobayashi)
41' - COL - Gabriel Torres
51' - COL - Deshorn Brown (Clint Irwin)
71' - VAN - Camilo Sanvezzo
77' - COL - Gabriel Torres (Deshorn Brown)
Shots: Colorado 16 – Vancouver 13
Shots on Goal: Colorado 6 – Vancouver 3
Saves: Colorado 1 – Vancouver 3
Fouls: Colorado 14 – Vancouver 12
Offsides: Colorado 1 – Vancouver 4
Corners: Colorado 4 – Vancouver 1
11' - VAN - Jordan Harvey
69' - COL - Nathan Sturgis
31.Clint Irwin; 22.Marvell Wynne, 3.Drew Moor, 27.Shane O'Neill, 15.Chris Klute; 12.Hendry Thomas, 2.Nick LaBrocca (9.Edson Buddle 45'), 24.Nathan Sturgis; 26.Deshorn Brown (33.German Mera 83'), 30.Gabriel Torres, 7.Vincente Sanchez (10.Martin Rivero 79')
18.Matt Pickens, 6.Anthony Wallace, 16.Atiba Harris, 23.Jaime Castrillon
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 (9.Kenny Miller 84'), 14.Daigo Kobayasahi (11.Darren Mattocks 67'), 8.Matt Watson (31.Russell Teibert 61); 23.Kekuta Manneh, 7.Camilo Sanvezzo
18.Brad Knighton, 16.Johnny Leveron, 19.Erik Hurtado, 28.Gershon Koffie