It was a night of firsts.
A first-ever Major League Soccer road win for Vancouver Whitecaps FC. And, a first-ever Major League Soccer goal for captain Jay DeMerit, who struck the killer blow against Chivas USA in the 1-0 win with a headed effort off a corner kick taken by Camilo Sanvezzo.
"There’s a lot of positives to take from tonight,” DeMerit told Vancouver radio station TEAM 1410 following the match. “Ultimately, we came in, just like last week with a gameplan and we stuck to it. Sometimes on the road, you have to defend well as a team and score on set pieces, and thankfully, we were able to do that tonight.”
In a game which Chivas USA had 64.5 per cent possession, and had the better of the chances with five shots on target to Vancouver’s two, DeMerit’s 68th-minute goal was against the run of play.
“Chivas had their home opener last week and they lost that game in disappointing fashion with a 93rd minute goal, so they were certainly fired up and motivated for the game, which makes it tougher for us,” head coach Martin Rennie said. “They were hard to break down and they were dangerous on the ball, but I thought we were hard to break down and we created a few chances, mainly on the break.
“I think on the road it’s often the case that you have to defend well and then score on a set play and then continue to defend well and not get too open and too spread out and easily beaten. Those were the pleasing things from today.”
On a Home Depot Center surface which appeared heavy and slick due to heavy rain, the ‘Caps struggled at times.
“It’s pretty thick grass, and the ball does hold up a little bit,” DeMerit said of playing in the conditions. “You feel do like you’re dragging a bit, but overall Home Depot [Center] is one of the nicest stadiums you can play in. They could have cut the grass a bit shorter but I think at this time there’s a lot of rain, so they didn’t want to rip it up.”
While the game likely won’t be remembered as a classic match of free-flowing football, Rennie feels it’s an important milestone for the club, and one he’s happy to get out of the way early in his tenure.
“It’s a big achievement,” Rennie said. “It’s only three points and it’s only our first game on the road, but based on the fact the team didn’t win on the road last season it did make it a bit more significant than normal.”
Martin MacMahon covers Vancouver Whitecaps FC for MLSsoccer.com.