VANCOUVER, BC – A second-half brace from Pedro Morales carried Vancouver Whitecaps FC (9W-8L-13D) to a thrilling 2-1 comeback win over Real Salt Lake (13W-7L-10D) Saturday evening at BC Place.
After going down in the 57th minute, Morales drew the game level with a 62nd minute penalty before adding his 10th goal of the season late to cap off an action-filled second half.
Budweiser Man of the Match David Ousted also came up big with a season-high six saves on the night, leading the Blue and White to their ninth win of the season.
The win moves Vancouver back into the fifth and final playoff position in the Western Conference, one point up on Portland, who fell 3-2 to Toronto FC earlier in the day. Both teams have four matches to go.
Whitecaps FC have now won the season series over Real Salt Lake, the third place side in the Western Conference, after a pair of road draws earlier this year.
With this being the decisive third and final meeting between Vancouver and RSL this season, there wasn’t much of a feeling out period to start the match. Both sides had quality chances within the first five minutes.
First, RSL striker Joao Plata unleashed a right-footed strike from the top of the box that a sprawling Ousted handled well. The ‘Caps, who fielded an unchanged starting lineup after last week’s loss to Portland, came within inches of opening the scoring moments later.
In the fourth minute, a lively Sebastian Fernandez danced around Kyle Beckerman to the endline before laying it off to Morales, who hit it first time just over the goal.
The Chilean had another glorious opportunity in first-half stoppage time, as the ‘Caps were awarded a penalty after Kendall Waston and countrymate Alvaro Saborio got tangled up in the box. But goalkeeper Jeff Attinella denied Morales with a spectacular diving penalty save to keep the score level heading into the break.
RSL saw a little more of the ball in the first half, but the Blue and White defended well and looked the more dangerous side – particularly on the counter.
Breaking down Saturday's match. Click to enlarge.
After a slow start to the second half, things picked up dramatically in the 57th minute. Moments after Ousted made a brilliant diving save off a Javier Morales strike from the centre of the box, Nat Borchers headed in a Morales corner to put RSL ahead 1-0.
It took Vancouver just five minutes to respond.
The ‘Caps were awarded their second penalty of the match just after the hour-mark when Carlos Salcedo slid through the back of Erik Hurtado. And Morales made no mistake from the spot this time, firing it into the bottom left corner to draw the game level.
The goals appeared to spark Whitecaps FC, who continued pushing forward in search of a go-ahead goal. That nearly came in the 65th minute, when substitute Nicolas Mezquida whipped in a low cross to Hurtado at the near post but Attinella was there to make the save.
From there, the 19,395 fans in attendance at BC Place were treated to an exciting 15-minute stretch of non-stop action. After Ousted came way off his line to disrupt a Sebastian Jaime breakaway, Morales gave Whitecaps FC their first lead of the game in the 78th minute.
Substitute Kekuta Manneh started the play with an electric run down the left, before sending in a low cross that was met by Steven Beitashour at the top of the box. Beitashour hit it first time and Morales directed it into the back of the net, sending the crowd into a frenzy with his second goal of the game.
Less than five minutes later, Manneh made another dangerous run from inside his own half before going for goal from inside the box, but Attinella made a sprawling save to keep the game within reach.
RSL came on late, but the Blue and White managed to hold them off to secure an important three points, which allows them to control their own destiny with four games remaining.
The ‘Caps are back at BC Place next Saturday, October 4 to host FC Dallas in their second to last home match this season. The late Domenic Mobilio will be inducted into the Whitecaps FC Ring of Honour prior to the match. Members of the Mobilio family will be on hand for the induction ceremony. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m. PT and tickets are still available at whitecapsfc.com/tickets.
Participate in the best sporting experience in Vancouver! Save 12% on 2015 Whitecaps FC Season Tickets between September 26 and October 7. Fans who purchase Season Tickets by October 4 will be automatically entered to win a trip to Germany, courtesy of adidas. In addition to Season Tickets, Whitecaps FC offer a flexible range of ticket products, including Half-Season Packs, 5-Packs, Student Half-Season Tickets, and a Youth Soccer Half-Season Ticket. For more information on 2015 Season Tickets, visit whitecapsfc.com/12.
Tweet of the Game
That's how you battle for the W @WhitecapsFC well done— Zain Janif * (@Zjanif09) September 28, 2014
Quote of the Game
“That was probably my hardest team talk of the season at halftime. The boys were playing well but we missed a penalty just before halftime and went in nil-nil. I said listen, you’ve got to pick it up, and that will make it more enjoyable when you win. Sometimes there are season defining moments, and this might be our defining moment.” - Carl Robinson
Stat of the Game
With his brace on Saturday, Morales now has 10 goals to go along with his 10 assists this season, becoming the first Whitecaps FC player to hit double digits in both categories during a single MLS regular season.
Budweiser Man of the Match: David Ousted
Referee: Allen Chapman
57’ – RSL – Nat Borchers (Javier Morales)
62’ – VAN – Pedro Morales (penalty kick)
78’ – VAN – Pedro Morales (Steven Beitashour, Kekuta Manneh)
Shots: Vancouver 17 – Real Salt Lake 16
Shots on Goal: Vancouver 9 – Real Salt Lake 7
Saves: Vancouver 6 – Real Salt Lake 7
Fouls: Vancouver 14 – Real Salt Lake 8
Offsides: Vancouver 0 – Real Salt Lake 3
Corners: Vancouver 6 – Real Salt Lake 8
36’ – VAN – Steven Beitashour
60’ – RSL – Carlos Salcedo
63’ – VAN – Russell Teibert
79’ – VAN – Pedro Morales
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
1.David Ousted; 33.Steven Beitashour, 40.Andy O’Brien, 4.Kendall Waston, 2.Jordan Harvey; 15.Matías Laba, 31.Russell Teibert; 30.Mauro Rosales (29.Nicolás Mezquida 64’), 77.Pedro Morales, 7.Sebastián Fernández (23.Kekuta Manneh 77’); 19.Erik Hurtado (11.Darren Mattocks 68’)
Substitutes not used
70.Paolo Tornaghi, 3.Sam Adekugbe, 8.Medhi Ballouchy, 27.Ethen Sampson
Real Salt Lake
24.Jeff Attinella; 17.Chris Winger, 16.Carlos Salcedo, 6.Nat Borchers, 29.Abdoulie Mansally; 19.Luke Mulholland (27.Sebastian Velasquez 82’), 5.Kyle Beckerman, 11.Javier Morales, 21.Luis Gil (20.Ned Grabavoy 69’); 15.Alvaro Saborio (23.Sebastian Jaime 69’), 8.Joao Plata
Substitutes not used
2.Lalo Fernandez, 4.Aaron Maund, 12.Cole Grossman, 49.Devon Sandoval