COMMERCE CITY, CO - Playing their first match in the month of July, Vancouver Whitecaps FC (8W-4L-5D) earned an important 1-0 away victory over Western Conference rivals Colorado Rapids (7W-9L-1D) in Major League Soccer on Wednesday evening.
Highlights: Colorado 0-1 Vancouver.
Darren Mattocks’ fortuitous winner just before halftime gave the Blue and White an excellent start to this month’s extended road trip. It was Vancouver’s first MLS win in Colorado, and more importantly, their second league victory over the Rapids this season. The win also took Whitecaps FC past their 2011 MLS points total of 28 by reaching 29 points at the midway point of this season.
‘Caps goalkeeper Joe Cannon earned the clean sheet on a night when he passed the 29,000-minute mark in his MLS career, with Whitecaps FC taking their league-leading shutout total to eight matches.
“It's a big win for us on the road in a tough place to come,” Whitecaps FC head coach Martin Rennie told Vancouver’s TEAM 1410 radio. “It was very hot here, and obviously, it was a big night for the Rapids being the 4th of July. For us to come in here and play as disciplined and professional as we did is a big positive for us.”
While Rennie’s three line-up changes included an MLS debut for the club’s new Designated Player Barry Robson, talk surrounded his 4-2-3-1 formation for the midweek clash. It proved effective, with Alain Rochat putting in a ‘Budweiser Man of the Match’ performance as one of Vancouver’s two holding midfielders.
Wednesday was Independence Day in the United States, as Colorado welcomed Whitecaps FC to their annual 4th of July contest on a hot summer’s evening at a sold-out Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
The first half struggled for flowing play from with either side, as Vancouver’s formation stifled an attack-minded Rapids side in the opening 45 minutes.
During his distinguished career, Robson has had a habit of having impactful debuts for new clubs. Playing wide on the right, the Scottish international tried his best to make that type of mark with a left-footed piledriver that flew just wide of the target on four minutes.
Though Vancouver kept the Rapids at bay, the home side created several chances that could have made a breakthrough by halftime. Most of them fell to big striker Conor Casey, whose two best opportunities came just before the break.
Instead, it was Whitecaps FC that scored against the run of play of 43 minutes. Former Rapids player Jordan Harvey played in a cross that Colorado’s Drew Moor misplayed on the edge of his own box. Mattocks pounced on the loose ball and coolly slotted past Rapids goalkeeper Matt Pickens for his fourth goal of the season.
The goal effectively set up proceedings in the second half, as Whitecaps FC’s defensive shape frustrated Colorado, who had the majority of possession and chances after halftime.
However, Cannon and an inability to hit the target effectively let Oscar Pareja’s side down. Casey and Jeff Larentowicz had Colorado’s best opportunities to equalize in the dying stages.
Having spent much of the half in a defensive mode, the ‘Caps could have extended their lead on 79 minutes. However, substitute Camilo Sanvezzo’s free kick just eluded the unmarked Gershon Koffie and Martin Bonjour in the Rapids box.
The final whistle from match referee Dave Gantar ensured Whitecaps FC moved up to third place in the Western Conference standings with their first away win in MLS since April 28 at Columbus Crew.
The only blemish on Wednesday night was a late booking for Mattocks that will see the Jamaican youngster miss Saturday’s match at Chivas USA through suspension for caution accumulation.
Budweiser Man of the Match: Alain Rochat
Referee: David Gantar
43' – VAN – Darren Mattocks
Shots: Colorado 17 – Vancouver 3
Shots on Goal: Colorado 6 – Vancouver 1
Saves: Colorado 0 – Vancouver 6
Fouls: Colorado 14 – Vancouver 14
Offsides: Colorado 3 – Vancouver 3
Corners: Colorado 6 – Vancouver 1
41' – VAN – Alain Rochat
90'+3 – VAN – Darren Mattocks
18.Matt Pickens; 2.Hunter Freeman (37.Edu 72'), 3.Drew Moor, 22.Marvell Wynne, 21.Luis Zapata; 11.Brian Mullan, 4.Jeff Larentowicz, 10.Martin Rivero, 23.Jaime Castrillon (20.Jamie Smith 63'); 14.Omar Cummings (32.Tony Cascio 61'), 9.Conor Casey
Substitutes not used: 31.Steward Ceus, 5.Joseph Nane, 15.Wells Thompson, 34.Tyrone Marshall
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
1. Joe Cannon; 12.Young-Pyo Lee, 15.Martin Bonjour, 6.Jay DeMerit, 3.Jordan Harvey; 28.Gershon Koffie, 4.Alain Rochat; 14.Barry Robson (7.Sebastien Le Toux 57'), 22.Darren Mattocks, 20.Davide Chiumiento (13.Michael Nanchoff 85'); 29.Eric Hassli (37.Camilo Sanvezzo 72')
Substitutes not used: 18.Brad Knighton, 19.Carlyle Mitchell, 31.Russell Teibert, 32.Greg Klazura