Our Vancouver Whitecaps FC couldn’t take advantage of an early sending off for Chivas USA on Sunday, as we fell behind just before the halftime whistle. It was a struggle to break down the 10-men Goats until Darren Mattocks set up the tying goal for Kekuta Manneh in the 81st minute.
So, what did we learn?
Work in progress
Highlights: Chivas USA 1-1 Vancouver Whitecaps FC
As much as we shouldn’t get carried away with an incredible opening day performance, we need not be down on everything because we had a poor performance against 10-men Chivas.
Last week, we saw for the first time the array of talent we have in our squad and on the bench. On the other hand, Sunday’s match was an indicator of the work that still needs to be done. It’s not going to happen overnight.
I really believe the sending off affected the way we wanted to play. We struggled to use the extra man to our advantage until some key substitutions were made in the second half.
We heard Carl Robinson talk about wanting to play the same way on the road as they do at home and I almost wonder if that would have been easier playing 11 versus 11. At the Official Whitecaps FC Viewing Party at The Pint, I was asked if a team can actually do that. My answer was that Barcelona does.
We’re not Barcelona. However, if you look at Real Salt Lake, you wouldn’t know if they’re playing home or away. My point is that teams can have the same approach, but it’s easier said than done.
It's my belief that the coaching staff are working on the mentality of the team and how they approach these games. It’s something that has to be instilled in the team, and positive results will be the biggest way for the staff to reinforce that belief that they can play well on the road. I'm confident that this team will soon put in a really strong road performance that will provide that proof needed for everyone to believe, and hopefully that will come next weekend in New England.
It’s the way Robinson wants his team to play and the way he believes his team can play. Now, it’s just about getting the players believe they can do it too.
A team to be feared
Erick Torres opens the scoring for the 10-men Goats
When Chivas went down to 10 men early in the game, I really thought this game was over and we’d go on to an easy road win. I know teams playing with 10 men can raise their level, but this was a Chivas team that had all kinds of turmoil over the last year and a half.
Boy, was I surprised about how organized they were defensively and how much of a threat they were while in possession. Don’t get me wrong, this was not a great performance from our ‘Caps. But you have to give Chivas credit for working their socks off all over the park.
Even when we tied it up late, they showed great character to hang on for a draw and keep us on our toes with dangerous counter attacks.
With a come-from-behind victory against Chicago Fire last week and this impressive performance with 10 men on Sunday, Chivas USA has shown the rest of Major League Soccer that they are a team to be feared, especially at home.
Manneh strikes again
Manneh scores his first goal of the 2014 MLS season
Yes, everyone already knew from last year that Manneh is a fantastic young player with loads of potential and he proved that yet again on Sunday.
As soon as he stepped on the field and started running at Chivas, we looked like a different team. The well-organized defence Chivas had shown earlier was all of a sudden in disarray. They just couldn’t cope with Manneh’s speed and trickery, as he drove into their penalty box time and time again.
It was no surprise when the 19-year-old clinically side-footed the tying goal into the back of the net to cap off a game-changing performance from the substitutes bench.
Once Manneh returns to full fitness (a back injury limited him to around 100 minutes in the preseason), it’s going to be hard to keep him out of the lineup.
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