HARRISON, NJ – We’ve got a series.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC scored a crucial away goal, David Ousted stopped a penalty, and Cristian Techera was shown a red card as the ‘Caps battled to a 1-1 draw with New York Red Bulls on Wednesday night in the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals.
Kekuta Manneh opened the scoring in the 39th minute before Bradley Wright-Phillips levelled the score just after the hour-mark, leaving everything to play for in the second leg next Thursday at BC Place (7 p.m. PT kickoff – tickets still available).
A win or scoreless draw would send Vancouver to the semifinals, where they would face Pumas UNAM or Tigres UANL from Mexico’s Liga MX, while a 1-1 draw would force extra time.
Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson’s first official starting XI of 2017 consisted of Ousted, a back line of Jake Nerwinski, Kendall Waston, Tim Parker, and Jordan Harvey, midfielders Matias Laba and Russell Teibert, wingers Alphonso Davies and Cristian Techera, and Manneh playing centrally underneath striker Erik Hurtado. Notably, it was Nerwinski’s professional debut with the club – and it just so happened to come in his home state of New Jersey.
This one played out pretty much as expected, with New York controlling possession and the ‘Caps looking dangerous on the counter. And both sides managed to create some quality chances.
Red Bulls captain Sacha Kljestan came close twice in the first half, hitting the side-netting after some nice interplay with Wright-Phillips in the fifth minute and then curling a 20-yard free kick just over the goal before the break. Daniel Royer also came close for the Red Bulls, heading a Gonzalo Veron cross over the bar at the back post.
Meanwhile, Vancouver’s attacking trio of Davies, Manneh, and Techera caused all sorts of problems for the Red Bulls back line while playing off of Hurtado, who held the ball up well.
Techera had an early opportunity, curling a left-footed strike just wide of the far post from a poor angle. And Davies and Manneh showed their pace with some fine runs down the flanks before the latter eventually opened the scoring on a 39th-minute corner.
Techera provided the service, Waston flicked it on, and Manneh headed it in off a Red Bulls defender to put Vancouver ahead with a crucial away goal.
The Red Bulls, desperate for an equalizer, came out flying after the break.
And they nearly levelled the score in the 47th minute, but Ousted denied a cheeky Kljestan penalty attempt with his left foot after Nerwinski was whistled for a foul in the box.
There was nothing he could do in the 62nd minute, however, when a cross from the right landed at Wright-Phillips’ feet in the middle of the box. Last year’s MLS Golden Boot winner took care of the rest, slamming it into the top right corner.
The match took another turn in the 70th minute, when Techera was shown a straight red card for what was deemed to be a high boot on New York’s Sal Zizzo, setting up a frantic finish. New York came on strong with the man advantage, but Whitecaps FC managed to hold firm.
NEWS AND NOTES
- The ‘Caps were without five players due to injury on Thursday, including attacking midfielders Christian Bolaños (knee), Nicolas Mezquida (hip), and Yordy Reyna (foot), who underwent surgery on Tuesday to repair a fractured fifth metatarsal in his left foot.
- New striker Fredy Montero also did not feature as he continues to work up his fitness, but Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson said that the Colombian striker will “definitely be involved” in the second leg on March 2 at BC Place.
- In addition to Techera, Hurtado will miss the second leg due to caution accumulation.
Single match tickets are on sale now and Full Season Tickets are available from $41/month. Visit whitecapsfc.com/tickets for more information on all ticket options.
Referee: César Arturo Ramos
39’ – VAN – Kekuta Manneh (Kendall Waston)
61’ – NY – Bradley Wright-Phillips (Gonzalo Verón)
Possession: New York 67.8% – Vancouver 32.2%
Shots: New York 14 – Vancouver 9
Shots on Goal: New York 2 – Vancouver 4
Saves: New York 3 – Vancouver 1
Fouls: New York 7 – Vancouver 19
Offsides: New York 4 – Vancouver 2
Corners: New York 7 – Vancouver 1
41’ – VAN – Tim Parker
55’ – VAN – Erik Hurtado
80’ – NY – Sacha Kljestan
70 – VAN – Cristian Techera
New York Red Bulls
31.Luis Robles; 15.Sal Zizzo, 78.Aurelien Collin, 33.Aaron Long, 20.Justin Bilyeu; 8.Felipe, 27.Sean Davis; 16.Sacha Kljestan ©, 77.Danny Royer (7.Derrick Etienne Jr 74’); 30.Gonzalo Verón, 99.Bradley Wright-Phillips (13.Mike Grella 87’)
Substitutes not used
18.Ryan Meara, 6.Dan Metzger, 19.Alex Muyl, 55.Damien Perrinelle, 62.Michael Amir Murillo
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
1.David Ousted; 28.Jake Nerwinski (25.Sheanon Williams 76’), 4.Kendall Waston ©, 26.Tim Parker, 2.Jordan Harvey; 15.Matías Laba, 31.Russell Teibert; 13.Cristian Techera, 23.Kekuta Manneh (47.Kyle Greig 80’), 67.Alphonso Davies; 19.Erik Hurtado (9.Giles Barnes 63’)
Substitutes not used
70.Paolo Tornaghi, 8.Andrew Jacobson, 17.Marcel de Jong, 22.Christian Dean