VANCOUVER, BC – Vancouver Whitecaps FC remain perfect in Major League Soccer season openers after defeating New York Red Bulls 4-1 in front of a sold-out crowd of 21,000 on Saturday afternoon at BC Place.
Striker Kenny Miller notched a brace and newcomers Sebastian Fernandez and Pedro Morales scored in their MLS debuts as the ‘Caps cruised to a thrilling victory over the defending Supporters Shield winners in their first match of 2014.
After a Miller penalty gave Whitecaps FC a lead late in the first half, the Blue and White put the game out of reach after the break with three second-half tallies.
First, Fernandez brought the crowd to its feet with a stunning strike from about 25 yards in the 50th minute, and then Vancouver’s newest Designated Player made his mark.
In the 77th minute, Morales chipped a perfect ball over the top to Miller, who then lobbed Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles to score his second goal of the match.
And then Morales, a second-half substitute, found of the back of the net himself in the 89th minute, firing home an inviting ball into the box from Nigel Reo-Coker.
New York got a goal back in time added on through Bradley Wright-Phillips, but it did little to dampen what was a near-perfect start to the season for the Blue and White.
It was a dominating performance from head coach Carl Robinson’s side, who launched 10 shots on target and outshot their Eastern Conference opponents by a 14-8 margin.
The ‘Caps have now won each of their four season openers in MLS, outscoring their opponents 11-3 in the process, in addition to having gone undefeated in 13 straight season openers dating back to 2002.
They also remain undefeated against New York in MLS with a 2W-0L-2D record.
In his first regular season match as Whitecaps FC head coach, Robinson fielded a starting XI composed of eight returning players and four starters from First Kick 2013. The three newcomers in the starting lineup were Fernandez, right back Steven Beitashour and midfielder Matias Laba.
Buoyed by a boisterous home crowd, the ‘Caps nearly got off to a dream start Saturday at BC Place. Less than a minute into the match, left back Jordan Harvey picked off an errant pass and played in Miller, who poked his right-footed effort over the goal as he was challenged from behind.
The ‘Caps had another great opportunity to open the scoring just a few minutes later. This time, Robles was forced to make an acrobatic diving save off a heavy Russell Teibert strike from distance.
It was an energetic start for the Blue and White, who played on the front foot and looked dangerous in the final third throughout the first half.
Fresh off a pair of international appearances with Jamaica, where he found the back of the net three times, striker Darren Mattocks was particularly involved in the ‘Caps attack. The 23-year-old Jamaican caused all sorts of problems for the Red Bulls back line with his speed and movement.
His best chance came in the 18th minute, when he broke in after a nifty one-two with Fernandez only to be disrupted by a last-ditch Richard Eckersley tackle.
At the other end of the park, New York had a pair of half-chances early against the run of play. But ‘Caps goalkeeper David Ousted was only really tested once, when he made a diving save on a heavy strike from Lloyd Sam in the 10th minute.
Although New York controlled possession in the opening stages of the second half, the ‘Caps back line did well to keep them away from the middle of the park before a barrage of late goals put the game away.
Next up for Whitecaps FC is a mini two-match road trip, in which they will meet Chivas USA on Sunday, March 16 and New England Revolution on Saturday, March 22.
The ‘Caps will be back at BC Place on March 29 against the Houston Dynamo. Retired defender Young-Pyo Lee will be honoured prior to the match.
Tweet of the Game
I have an urge to eat tamales while dancing the tango in a pool of salsa... Loving this @WhitecapsFC #SouthAmericanConnection
— BeaSTonAbike (@4thlinerferlife) March 9, 2014
Stat of the Game (courtesy of Opta):
In just 25 minutes of action, Morales created three chances from open play – more than any other 'Caps player. His passing accuracy percentage (88.89 per cent) was also the highest on the team.
Quote of the Game:
"To be honest, this is the most competitive team I've been on. I think the coaches have done a great job. I think that the chances are going to come, as you saw tonight." - Darren Mattocks
Budweiser Man of the Match: Sebastian Fernandez
Referee: Abbey Okulaja
34' - VAN - Kenny Miller (penalty kick)
49' - VAN - Sebastian Fernandez (Darren Mattocks)
78' - VAN - Kenny Miller (Pedro Morales)
87' - VAN - Pedro Morales (Nigel Reo-Coker)
90'+1 - NY - Bradley Wright-Phillips (Lloyd Sam)
Shots: Vancouver 14 - New York 8
Shots on Goal: Vancouver 10 - New York 4
Saves: Vancouver 3 - New York 6
Fouls: Vancouver 11 - New York 9
Offsides: Vancouver 2 - New York 2
Corners: Vancouver 4 - New York 4
7' - VAN - Steven Beitashour
31' - NY - Armando
36' - VAN - Jordan Harvey
62' - VAN - Russel Teibert
87' - NY - Lloyd Sam
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
1.David Ousted; 33.Steven Beitashour, 40.Andy O'Brien, 6.Jay DeMerit, 2.Jordan Harvey; 20.Nigel Reo-Coker, 15.Matías Laba; 31.Russell Teibert, 9.Kenny Miller (23.Kekuta Manneh 83'), 7.Sebastián Fernández (29.Nicolás Mezquida 73'); 11.Darren Mattocks (77.Pedro Morales 65')
Substitutes not used
70.Paolo Tornaghi, 16.Johnny Leveron, 19.Erik Hurtado, 28.Gershon Koffie
New York Red Bulls
31.Luis Robles; 15.Bobby Convey, 32.Ibrahim Sekagya, 5.Armando, 2.Richard Eckersley; 22.Jonny Steele (7.Roy Miller 64'), 12.Eric Alexander (21.Ruben Bover 84'), 11.Dax McCarty, 10.Lloyd Sam; 8.Peguy Luyindula (99.Bradley Weight-Phillips 73'), 17.Tim Cahill
Substitutes not used
18.Ryan Meara, 9.Andre Akpan, 20.Matt Miazga, 27.Kosuke Kimura
Whitecaps FC season tickets start at just $349 and single-match tickets start at $22, subject to applicable fees. The 'Caps also 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). For more information on all Whitecaps FC ticket options, call 604.669.9283 ext. 2 or visit whitecapsfc.com/tickets.