COMMERCE CITY, CO – Vancouver Whitecaps FC (5W-3L-7D) saw their club record eight-match unbeaten streak come to an end Saturday night with a 2-0 loss to Colorado Rapids (7W-5L-4D) at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
The Rapids, one of just two teams to have beaten Whitecaps FC in 2014, scored two first-half goals en route to their league-leading eighth clean sheet of the season.
With the win, the second-place Rapids increase their season total to 25 points – three points ahead of Vancouver, who still have a game in hand.
Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson made four changes to his starting lineup after Wednesday’s scoreless draw with Montreal Impact. Uruguayans Sebastian Fernandez and Nicolas Mezquida replaced Kekuta Manneh and Darren Mattocks on the wings, signaling the first time they have started an MLS match together.
There were also some changes to the backline, as Nigel Reo-Coker returned to the squad at right back after joining his wife for the birth of their first child. As a result, Carlyle Mitchell moved to his more familiar centre back position, replacing Andy O’Brien. And finally, Canadian midfielder Russell Teibert came in for Gershon Koffie.
There was little action in the early going on a very warm evening in Commerce City. Both teams looked organized defensively, which limited much play in the final third.
The ‘Caps did have a decent effort in the eighth minute, when an extended spell of possession resulted in a dangerous Teibert strike from distance. But the Canadian’s left-footed effort sailed wide of the goal.
After a fairly uneventful opening 15 minutes, the home team started to elevate their game. And in the 17th minute, Rapids midfielder Dillon Powers came within inches of opening the scoring when he ripped a shot off the crossbar from just inside the area.
Powers had another opportunity from a similar position just a few minutes later and this time he made no mistake, finding the bottom right corner of the goal to give Colorado a 1-0 lead.
All the stats from Saturday's match. Click to enlarge.
The Rapids doubled their advantage in the 36th minute, when Uruguayan Vicente Sanchez scored his league-leading fifth penalty of the season after Deshorn Brown was clipped inside the box.
Sanchez nearly had another in the 40th minute, when he flicked the ball over Johnny Leveron and into the box before attempting a bicycle kick. Whitecaps FC goalkeeper David Ousted got the better of him this time, however, diving to his right to make the save.
Down 2-0, Robinson brought on Koffie and Mattocks at the half and switched to a diamond midfield formation in an attempt to inject some life into his side.
It nearly paid off. Just three minutes into the half, Pedro Morales played a nice ball over the top to a streaking Jordan Harvey, who saw his left-footed strike from the left side of the box parried away by goalkeeper Clint Irwin.
Vancouver controlled much more possession in the second half, but still found it difficult to break down a stingy Rapids defence. They had their chances though. After some nice build-up play, Morales let loose a low 25-yard strike that missed just wide left in the 63rd minute.
Then in the 80th minute, Teibert found Harvey at the back post with a curling cross from the left corner but the American fullback couldn’t connect.
To their credit, the visiting ‘Caps came on strong in the closing stages but it wasn’t enough to prevent their first loss since April 12. In addition to their second-half performance, one positive on the night was the return of Mehdi Ballouchy.
The Moroccan midfielder was subbed on in the 70th minute and didn’t look out of place, nearly setting up a late Leveron tally. A torn left ACL had kept Ballouchy out of MLS action since August 2013.
Next up for Whitecaps FC is a pair of home matches on July 5 against Seattle Sounders FC and July 12 against Chivas USA. Tickets are still available at whitecapsfc.com/tickets.
It’s not too late to participate in the best sporting experience in Vancouver. Whitecaps FC offer a flexible range of ticket products, including prorated season tickets ($202), 5-packs ($149), student season tickets, and a youth soccer half-season ticket. Single-match tickets start at $22, subject to applicable fees. For more information on all Whitecaps FC ticket options, call 604.669.9283 ext. 2 or visit whitecapsfc.com/tickets.
Tweet of the Game
Stat of the Game
Making his first MLS appearance since August 2013, Ballouchy had 28 touches in just 20 minutes of action for a game-high average of 1.4 touches per minute.
Budweiser Man of the Match: Jordan Harvey
Referee: Ted Unkel
20’ – COL – Dillon Powers
36’ – COL – Vicente Sanchez (penalty kick)
Shots: Colorado 19 – Vancouver 5
Shots on Goal: Colorado 6 – Vancouver 1
Saves: Colorado 1 – Vancouver 4
Fouls: Colorado 11 – Vancouver 11
Offsides: Colorado 2 – Vancouver 1
Corners: Colorado 3 – Vancouver 4
54’ – VAN – Nigel Reo-Coker
87’ – COL – Nick LaBrocca
1.Clint Irwin; 22.Marvell Wynne, 27.Shane O’Neill, 3.Drew Moor, 15.Chris Klute; 2.Nick LaBrocca, 33.Jard Watts, 8.Dillon Powers; 7.Vicente Sanchez (94.Marlon Hairston 69’), 26.Deshorn Brown, 13.Kamani Hill (9.Edson Buddle 81’)
Substitutes not used
12.John Berner, 4.Marc Burch, 5.Thomas Piermayr, 10.Gabriel Torres, 16.John Neeskens
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
1.David Ousted; 20.Nigel Reo-Coker, 24.Carlyle Mitchell, 16.Johnny Leverón, 2.Jordan Harvey; 15.Matías Laba (8.Mehdi Ballouchy 70’), 31.Russell Teibert; 29.Nicolás Mezquida (11.Darren Mattocks 45’), 77.Pedro Morales, 7.Sebastián Fernández (28.Gershon Koffie 45’); 19.Erik Hurtado
Substitutes not used
70.Paolo Tornaghi, 22.Christian Dean, 23.Kekuta Manneh, 33.Steven Beitashour