Andy O'Brien Two ONe
Bob Frid/Vancouver Whitecaps FC

What we learned vs. Colorado Rapids

Things changed very quickly for our ‘Caps on Saturday after Darren Mattocks gave the home team a 1-0 lead with his first goal of the season. A sending off for Matias Laba and two highlight goals from Jose Mari resulted in Vancouver’s first defeat of the season.

So, what did we learn?

Veteran duo

Highlights: Vancouver Whitecaps FC 1-2 Colorado Rapids

Captain Jay DeMerit and his partner in central defence Andy O’Brien put on another solid display against Colorado Rapids – a team that showed plenty of power and pace.

If there were any questions about this pairing heading into the season, they’ve answered all of them. Saturday was the first time this season we have conceded more than one goal in a game and they were two wonder strikes from Jose Mari.

Our attacking players have gotten plenty of credit, and rightfully so, for our encouraging start to the season. But to be successful in this league, you need to be solid defensively and pick up points even when things aren’t flowing on the attacking side of things. Case in point: our two draws on the road.

DeMerit and O’Brien both read the game well, are strong with their tackles, and are calm and collective as they go about their jobs. This pairing provides a solid backbone for our ‘Caps moving forward.

Cruel game

Jose Mari's wonder strike gets Colorado on the board

With just over 10 minutes remaining, it looked like we were headed for another victory and our best start to a season since joining Major League Soccer.

Then, in what could only be described as a stunning five minutes, the game changed in a dramatic way and led to our first defeat.

Thinking he had been fouled, Laba collected the ball with his hands to start the play again quickly and was sent off for picking up his second yellow card. This came after our other holding midfielder Gershon Koffie had been substituted a little earlier in the game.

Then came two quick strikes from Jose Mari, who must be a contender for both MLS Goal of the Week and Player of the Week. Yes, he’s a good player who had a special night. But on another day, both of those shots could have ended up in the seats behind the goal instead of in the top corner of the net.

We had a wonderful chance to make it 2-0 a few minutes after Mattocks put us ahead, and nine times out of 10 Pedro Morales would have finished that. But it was not to be.

Our performance deserved more on the night but once again this game showed us how cruel it can be.

A just reward

Darren Mattocks scores his first goal of the 2014 season

There was a collective sigh of relief as Mattocks broke in on goal and put his team on the board in the 67th minute. It broke the deadlock in what had been a frustrating time in front of goal and it gave Mattocks his first goal of the season.

After becoming a fan favourite in his first season with the club, things didn’t go as well for Mattocks last season. But the Jamaican has started out this year looking to win back the fans with his play, which he is doing with abundance.

Once again on Saturday, Mattocks worked his socks off with and without the ball. If there’s one way to get the crowd on your side, it’s to show that unselfish effort for your team. And that’s what he’s done.

When Mattocks had a goal disallowed for being offside and had another good chance saved by the keeper in the first half, you could not help but think that this wasn’t going to be his night. Then, in the 67th minute, Kenny Miller put Mattocks though and he held his nerve to put the ball in the back of the net.

It was a just reward for all the hard work and unselfish play he has shown this season.

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