VANCOUVER, BC – Camilo Sanvezzo claimed the Major League Soccer Golden Boot as the league’s leading goalscorer after notching a hat-trick in Vancouver Whitecaps FC’s (13W-12L-9D) season finale Sunday evening in front of a sold-out crowd at BC Place.
The 'Caps 2013 BMO Player of the Year brought his season tally to a league-high 22 goals and Young-Pyo Lee played his final professional match as Vancouver capped off their 2013 MLS campaign with a convincing 3-0 victory over Colorado Rapids (14W-11L-9D).
Not only will 22 goals in MLS win Camilo the Golden Boot this season, it also puts him into a tie for second all-time place in the club’s record books for goals scored in a single regular season – three back of former Vancouver 86ers striker Domenic Mobilio, for whom the club's own leading scorer trophy is named after.
The ‘Caps, who picked up at least a point in five of their last seven matches, finish the season seventh in the Western Conference with 48 points – five more than their 2012 total. They had already set new club records in points, wins, and goals heading into Sunday’s finale.
Although the team's playoff fate was already determined last weekend, Sunday’s match still held special importance to several members of the squad.
Lee played 90 minutes before getting subbed off to a standing ovation in his final match. The South Korean legend, who wore the captain’s armband, confirmed earlier this week that he would retire following the season.
At the other end of the spectrum, 18-year-old Sam Adekugbe made his MLS debut on Sunday in place of left back Jordan Harvey who was suspended due to caution accumulation. Adekugbe was one of five players 25-years-old or younger who started for the ‘Caps, including fellow 18-year-old teenager Kekuta Manneh.
Midfielders Gershon Koffie and Russell Teibert also drew back into the squad, replacing Jun Marques Davidson and Matt Watson respectively. The only other change from last weekend’s tilt with the Rapids was at centre back – where Brad Rusin took the place of an injured Carlyle Mitchell (sprained right ankle).
Among the various storylines going into Sunday’s contest was Camilo’s chase for the MLS Golden Boot. The Brazilian came into the match needing two goals to claim the award, as Chicago Fire’s Mike Magee scored his 21st of the season earlier in the day.
If it wasn’t for a pair of sprawling saves by Rapids goalkeeper Clint Irwin, Camilo may have won the Golden Boot in the opening 15 minutes.
His first chance came in the 11th minute when Daigo Kobayashi sent a low cross into the Rapids box from the left flank. Camilo’s hit it first time with his weaker left foot but Irwin’s fingertip save kept matters scoreless.
The Brazilian came even closer to opening the scoring just a few minutes later after Manneh released him into the left side of the Rapids box. But Irwin stymied the opportunity a second time – this time diving to his left and stopping a shot that seemed labeled for the top right corner of the goal.
At the other of the pitch, the Rapids struggled mightily to create anything of substance in the first half. They didn’t have much of a sniff at goal until the 27th minute, when Gabriel Torres let loose a right-footed strike from inside the area. An outstretched David Ousted made the sprawling save, before he and Rusin combined to smother the rebound on the goalline with striker Edson Buddle approaching.
The near-goal didn’t seem to faze the ‘Caps. Finally, Whitecaps FC broke through in the 43rd minute when Rapids defender Marvell Wynne took down Manneh inside the area, resulting in a penalty.
Camilo, the team’s regular spot kick shooter, turned to Lee and looked to offer him the opportunity to take the penalty. The veteran fullback shook him off, however, and moments later Camilo drilled it into the top right corner to give Vancouver the advantage.
Fittingly, the 25-year-old took the ball to Lee in celebration, went to his knees, and hugged the South Korean before his teammates joined in – a classy gesture towards a most worthy recipient.
The goal, Camilo’s eighth from a set piece and fifth from the penalty marker this season, gave Vancouver a 1-0 lead at halftime. It was a deserving lead for the 'Caps, who enjoyed 60 per cent of possession in the opening 45 minutes.
The Blue and White came out of the break much like they ended the first half, in control and looking like the more lively side.
To their credit, the Rapids created a few early opportunities, including a curling Buddle effort from the edge of the box, but could not find the back of the net.
In the end, the night would belong to Camilo. Whitecaps FC’s all-time leading goalscorer in MLS put himself atop the league scoring charts in the 74th minute, turning defender Drew Moor inside out before slipping the ball into the bottom right corner of the goal.
The Brazilian added an insurance marker in the 84th minute to finish off his first hat-trick – and the club’s second – in MLS. Teibert, who set-up the goal with a half-volley from midfield, also tied the 'Caps MLS assist record on the play by picking up his ninth helper of the season.
It was a fitting end to what’s been a spectacular season for Camilo, who scored at least two goals on six separate occasions in MLS play. In total, Camilo finished the season with 25 goals in all competitions, which shatters the previous record he set in 2011 (13 goals).
After the match, the entire team gathered at midfield and lifted Lee at midfield to celebrate victory in the final match of a fine career for the defender, and to cap a memorable night in another exciting season for Vancouver Whitecaps FC.
Budweiser Man of the Match: Camilo Sanvezzo
Referee: Ricardo Salazar
Match Night Sponsor: Kia
Shots: Vancouver 17 – Colorado 10
Shots on Goal: Vancouver 9 – Colorado 2
Saves: Vancouver 2 – Colorado 5
Fouls: Vancouver 9 – Colorado 15
Offsides: Vancouver 2 – Colorado 3
Corners: Vancouver 1 – Colorado 0
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
22.David Ousted; 12.Young-Pyo Lee (19.Erik Hurtado 90'), 3.Brad Rusin 6.Jay DeMerit, 25.Sam Adekugbe; 13.Nigel Reo-Coker, 28.Gershon Koffie, 14.Daigo Kobayashi (11.Darren Mattocks 60'), 31.Russell Teibert; 23.Kekuta Manneh (8.Matt Watson 72'), 7.Camilo Sanvezzo
Unused Substitutes: 18.Brad Knighton, 27.Jun Marques Davidson, 29.Tommy Heinemann, 40.Andy O'Brien
31.Clint Irwin; 22.Marvell Wynne, 3.Drew Moor, 27.Shane O'Neill, 15.Chris Klute; 12.Hendry Thomas, 24.Nathan Sturgis; 2.Nick Labrocca (10.Martin Rivero 57'), 30.Erick Torres, 26.Deshorn Brown (17.Dillon Serna 77'); 9.Edson Buddle (23.Jaime Castrillon 67')
Unused Substitutes: 18.Matt Pickens, 6.Anthony Wallace, 16.Atiba Harris, 33.German Mera