VANCOUVER, BC – That was quite the party.
On a day that Vancouver Whitecaps FC (3W-2L-4D) celebrated the 40th anniversary of their first-ever match, the current incarnation of the ‘Caps held on for a thrilling 3-2 win over San Jose Earthquakes (1W-3L-3D) Saturday afternoon at BC Place.
A dominant first-half performance, in which Whitecaps FC took a 3-0 lead in the opening 20 minutes, carried Vancouver to victory in front of a fifth straight sold-out crowd at BC Place to start the season.
Chilean midfielder Pedro Morales, the Budweiser Man of the Match, and 19-year-old Kekuta Manneh led the way for the Blue and White. Morales scored two goals in less than a minute and Manneh had a goal and an assist, leading Whitecaps FC to their third win of the season. Both players are now tied for the team lead with three goals this season.
Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson made three changes to his starting lineup after last weekend’s 2-2 draw with Real Salt Lake. Along with Morales, who replaced Kenny Miller, winger Sebastian Fernandez and centre back Jay DeMerit also drew into the starting lineup. Fernandez came in for Russell Teibert, while DeMerit took the spot of Johnny Leveron in Robinson's 4-2-3-1 formation.
There was a buzz in the building from the get go after a special pre-match ceremony saw the inaugural 1974 ‘Caps team honoured and Bob Lenarduzzi inducted into the club’s newly launched Ring of Honour.
And the Blue and White kept the buzz going with an inspired start to the match.
Less than two minutes in, a cleared Fernandez cross landed at Morales’ feet at the top of the 18-yard box and the Chilean curled a right-footed effort just wide of the goal.
The ‘Caps kept coming though, and eventually opened the scoring in the 10th minute.
The play started with a well-timed tackle from DeMerit in midfield and ended with some magic from Manneh, who hit the near post with a strike from the edge of the box and then put home his own rebound with a side-footed effort off the far post and in.
Manneh’s goal kicked off an exciting 10-minute stretch that saw Whitecaps FC find the back of the net three times. And it could have been four, as Quakes goalkeeper Jon Busch did well to turn away a 24-yard Fernandez strike in the 15th minute.
Morales doubled Vancouver’s advantage in the 19th minute, slotting home a penalty after Darren Mattocks was taken down in the Quakes box. And less than a minute later, the Chilean found the back of the net again.
This time, after receiving a short pass from Manneh, Morales fired home a heavy strike from 25 yards to give Whitecaps FC a 3-0 lead. This was the first time the 'Caps had scored three goals in the first 20 minutes since joining MLS.
It was a dream start for the Blue and White, who outshot the Quakes 13-3 in the first half alone. San Jose did manage to get one goal back in the 45th minute, as striker Chris Wondolowski coolly finished a penalty after it was deemed that DeMerit fouled Alan Gordon while heading away the ball from danger.
Aside from Wondolowski’s late tally, the only hitch for Whitecaps FC in the first half was an injury to Mattocks. The Jamaican left the match with a left hamstring strain in the 30th minute and was replaced by Erik Hurtado.
Hurtado, who nearly finished off a great passing sequence moments after he was subbed on, was very involved for the ‘Caps. In the 54th minute, he made a great run down the centre of the park and broke into the box but Busch was quick off his line to make the save.
To their credit, the visiting ‘Quakes put Whitecaps FC under pressure for a few spells during the second half. Eventually, Wondolowski added his second goal in added time, but a comeback would not be in the cards on this afternoon.
The day started with a celebration of the past and ended with a showcase of the present, as Whitecaps FC came away with a 3-2 win almost 40 years after falling to San Jose in a shootout in their first-ever game.
The ‘Caps are right back at it this Wednesday, May 7, as they travel to Toronto for their first match of the 2014 Amway Canadian Championship. The second leg of the semifinal will take place on May 14 at BC Place. Tickets are still available at whitecapsfc.com/tickets.
It’s not too late to participate in the best sporting experience in Vancouver. Whitecaps FC offer a flexible range of ticket products, including half-season tickets ($244), 5-packs ($149), student season tickets ($199), and a youth soccer half-season ticket ($100). Single-match tickets start at $22, subject to applicable fees. For more information on all Whitecaps FC ticket options, call 604.669.9283 ext. 2 or visit whitecapsfc.com/tickets.
Tweet of the Game
Stat of the Game
Pedro Morales' two goals in the span of 57 seconds set a new record for the fastest two goals scored by Whitecaps FC in MLS. Morales also becomes the 15th player in MLS history to have goals listed in consecutive minutes.
Quote of the Game
"I wanted the guys in there to put on a performance for [the fans], and I think in the first 30 to 45 minutes they were absolutely fantastic. Even in the last minute as we conceded, [the crowd] was still as supportive as they were in the first minute.” - Carl Robinson
Budweiser Man of the Match: Pedro Morales
Referee: Drew Fischer
10’ – VAN – Kekuta Manneh
19’ – VAN – Pedro Morales (penalty kick)
20’ – VAN – Pedro Morales (Kekuta Manneh)
45’ – SJ – Chris Wondolowski (penalty kick)
90’+1 – SJ – Chris Wondolowski
Shots: Vancouver 17 – San Jose 7
Shots on Goal: Vancouver 9 – San Jose 4
Saves: Vancouver 2 – San Jose 6
Fouls: Vancouver 19 – San Jose 14
Offsides: Vancouver 1 – San Jose 1
Corners: Vancouver 5 – San Jose 3
21’ – VAN – Pedro Morales
70’ – SJ – Alan Gordon
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
1.David Ousted; 33.Steven Beitashour, 40.Andy O'Brien, 6.Jay DeMerit, 2.Jordan Harvey; 28.Gershon Koffie,15.Matías Laba; 7.Sebastián Fernández (29.Nicolás Mezquida 69’), 77.Pedro Morales, 23.Kekuta Manneh (9.Kenny Miller 57’); 11.Darren Mattocks (19.Erik Hurtado 30’)
Substitutes not used
44.Marco Carducci, 16.Johnny Leverón, 20.Nigel Reo-Coker, 31.Russell Teibert
San Jose Earthquakes
18.Jon Busch; 26.Brandon Barklage (32.Billy Schuler 79’), 5.Victor Bernardez, 44.Clarence Goodson, 3.Jordan Stewart; 7.Cordell Cato (23.Atiba Harris 73’), 15.J.J. Koval, 4.Sam Cronin, 6.Shea Salinas; 8.Chris Wondolowski, 10.Yannick Djalo (16.Alan Gordon 14’)
Substitutes not used
13.Bryan Meredith, 2.Ty Harden, 9.Khari Stephenson, 80.Jean-Baptiste Pierazzi