CHESTER, PA – Vancouver Whitecaps FC (5W-2L-6D) enter Major League Soccer’s World Cup break unbeaten in seven matches, a new club record, after playing to a 3-3 draw with Philadelphia Union (3W-7L-6D) Saturday at PPL Park.
It was a tale of two halves for Whitecaps FC, who took a 2-0 lead into halftime with goals from red-hot striker Erik Hurtado and Nicolas Mezquida. Hurtado, who also added an assist, has now scored in five straight matches in all competitions.
Philadelphia then battled back with three straight goals to start the second half, before Pedro Morales leveled the game with his team-leading sixth goal of the season on a late penalty.
The ‘Caps, who have scored nine goals in their last three games, have now claimed at least a point in four straight road outings.
Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson made three changes to his starting lineup for Saturday’s match, as Johnny Leveron, Russell Teibert, and Mezquida drew into the squad in place of Andy O’Brien, Kekuta Manneh, and Sebastian Fernandez. It was Mezquida’s first career MLS start and the first time O’Brien has been left out of the starting lineup this season.
Unlike last weekend’s 4-3 win over Portland Timbers, there wasn’t much flow to start the match Saturday at PPL Park. Union striker Conor Casey caused some problems for the ‘Caps in the air, but it was a scrappy opening 10 minutes with little space for either side.
That changed quickly though, as the Blue and White started exploit the Union back line with their build-up play on the counter. In the 15th minute, Morales sent an inviting outside-footed throughball to a streaking Hurtado, who took a touch before getting dispossessed at the last second.
Hurtado had another opportunity in the 18th minute and he wouldn’t be denied. The second-year striker headed in a first-time cross from Nigel Reo-Coker, who found space on the right flank thanks to a perfectly-weighted Teibert throughball, to give Vancouver a 1-0 lead.
Both Reo-Coker and Teibert were awarded assists on the play – it was Teibert’s first point of the season.
Philadelphia controlled 54 per cent of possession in the first half and forced goalkeeper David Ousted into a pair of tricky saves, but the ‘Caps continued to find space on the counter.
In the 32nd minute, Morales released Hurtado down the left wing before the striker returned the favour with a low cross into the box. The Chilean chipped Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath but a sprawling Raymon Gaddis saved the day.
Check out all the stats from Saturday's match. Click to enlarge.
Hurtado was involved again in the 41st minute. This time, he beat his mark Fabinho down the right side of the box before slipping a short pass into Mezquida, who fired it in from close range.
The goal, which was once again created off a dangerous counter attack, gave Whitecaps FC a well-deserved 2-0 lead at the half. The only real hitch for Robinson’s side in the first half was an injury to skipper Jay DeMerit, who left the game in the 24th minute with a left foot injury.
To their credit, the Union got off to an inspired start to the second half, as they continued to cause problems with their direct play and crosses into the box.
Philadelphia came close in the 50th minute, when Maurice Edu tipped a Vincent Nogueira cross off the near post. The Union kept coming though and got on the board in the 63rd minute through a Casey header. Then, just moments after entering the game, former Whitecaps FC winger Sebastian Le Toux leveled the game at 2-2 in the 68th minute.
Finally, the home side capped off an eventful 10-minute spell in the 71st minute, when Casey completed the comeback with his second goal of the game.
Already ahead 3-2, the Union nearly put the game out of reach in the 77th minute, but Ousted made a massive sprawling save off Gaddis from in tight. And the ‘Caps took advantage.
Just minutes later, after running onto a Morales throughball, substitute Darren Mattocks broke into the box and was taken down by a sprawling MacMath. Morales, who now has either a goal or an assist in four of his last five games, slotted home the ensuing penalty just beyond MacMath’s outstretched arms to bring the game level once again.
And it stayed that way, thanks in large part to the play of Ousted, as the 'Caps came away with a point in thrilling 3-3 draw in their final match before the league’s two-week World Cup break.
Whitecaps FC aren’t back in action until June 25, when they host Canadian rival Montreal Impact at BC Place. Tickets are still available at whitecapsfc.com.
It’s not too late to participate in the best sporting experience in Vancouver. Whitecaps FC offer a flexible range of ticket products, including prorated season tickets ($220), 5-packs ($149), student season tickets, and a youth soccer half-season ticket. 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
Delicious barbecue, gorgeous weather, and an exciting @WhitecapsFC game. It's times like these I'm happy to be alive.— Nav Ravichandran (@NavRav28) June 8, 2014
Stat of the Game
Ousted, who had five saves Saturday against the Union, now has 10 saves in his last two games – six of them have come from shots inside the box.
Budweiser Man of the Match: Erik Hurtado
Referee: Jose Carlos Rivero
18’ – VAN – Erik Hurtado (Nigel-Reo Coker, Russell Teibert)
41’ – VAN – Nicolas Mezquida (Erik Hurtado)
63’ – PHI – Conor Casey (Cristian Maidana, Fabinho)
68’ – PHI – Sebastien Le Toux (Vincent Nogueira, Cristian Maidana)
71’ – PHI – Conor Casey (Cristian Maidana)
81’ – VAN – Pedro Morales (penalty kick)
Shots: Philadelphia 29 – Vancouver 6
Shots on Goal: Philadelphia 9 – Vancouver 4
Saves: Philadelphia 1 – Vancouver 5
Fouls: Philadelphia 13 – Vancouver 14
Offsides: Philadelphia 0 – Vancouver 2
Corners: Philadelphia 10 – Vancouver 2
53’ – PHI – Raymon Gaddis
80’ – PHI – Zac MacMath
90’ + 2 – VAN – Johnny Leveron
90’ + 3 – PHI – Michael Lahoud
18.Zac MacMath; 28.Raymon Gaddis, 25.Sheanon Williams, 12.Amobi Okugo, 33.Fabinho; 5.Vincent Nogueira, 21.Maurice Edu, 10.Cristian Maidana (22.Leo Fernandes 88’); 44.Daniel Cruz (11.Sebastien Le Toux 66’) , 6.Conor Casey, 27.Zach Pfeffer (13.Michael Lahoud 45’)
Substitutes not used
1.Andre Blake, 7.Brian Carroll, 9.Andrew Wenger, 15.Ethan White
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
1.David Ousted; 20.Nigel Reo-Coker, 6.Jay DeMerit (40.Andy O’Brien 24’), 16.Johnny Leverón,2.Jordan Harvey; 28.Gershon Koffie,15.Matias Laba (11.Darren Mattocks 74’),; 29.Nicolás Mezquida (7.Sebastián Fernández 66’), 77.Pedro Morales, 31.Russell Teibert; 19.Erik Hurtado
Substitutes not used
70.Paolo Tornaghi, 8. Medhi Ballouchy, 17.Omar Salgado, 23.Kekuta Manneh