VANCOUVER, BC – Knock another first off the list.
A gritty performance on Saturday saw Vancouver Whitecaps FC (5W-2L-1D) earn their first ever victory at Rio Tinto Stadium, over Western Conference rivals Real Salt Lake (2W-1L-3D). With the win, Whitecaps FC remain first overall in the MLS standings, while Salt Lake were handed their first defeat of the season.
Head coach Carl Robinson made four changes to his starting lineup from last weekend at San Jose Earthquakes with left back Sam Adekugbe in for Jordan Harvey and midfielders Gershon Koffie, Russell Teibert, and Nicolás Mezquida in for Deybi Flores, Kekuta Manneh, and Pedro Morales (suspended due to his red card against San Jose).
The first chance of the match came four minutes in when a long ball found Alvaro Saborio in on goal, however the Costa Rican sliced a shot well off target. Salt Lake had a second chance seven minutes later as Jordan Allen fired a shot on goal, but David Ousted did well to get low and make the save.
The ‘Caps had their first good look on 20 minutes after Teibert sprang Darren Mattocks down the left flank. The Jamaican patiently held up the ball before cutting a pass into the box to Mezquida who fended off a pair of defenders before having a dangerous shot deflect out of play.
After a scoreless first half, both sides came out intent to find the back of the net.
Breaking down Saturday's match. Click to enlarge.
The home side had a close call in the 63rd minute with an Olmes Garcia cross headed on goal by Saborio, but straight into the arms of Ousted. The ‘Caps countered three minutes later with a long ball up field from Kendall Waston finding Octavio Rivero, who fended off Tony Beltran before firing a shot over the crossbar.
Momentum swung the way of Whitecaps FC on 76 minutes. RSL substitute Sebastian Saucedo, was issued a straight red card for a rash sliding tackle on Mauro Rosales, who was making his return after missing five matches with an ankle injury.
It only took four minutes for the ‘Caps to take advantage of the extra man. Teibert made a terrific run up the left flank and swung in a perfect cross to a rising Mattocks who guided a header into the net for a 1-0 lead.
Any chances of a comeback for Salt Lake were extinguished in the 89th minute. Mattocks was nearly off and running, but centre back Jamison Olave yanked him to the ground. With one yellow card earlier in the match, the Colombian was shown another and delivered his marching orders to put RSL down to nine men.
Late pressure from RSL was easily dealt with as the ‘Caps posted their third shutout on the road, and their third victory away from home.
The league leading ‘Caps return to BC Place next weekend for a home match against Eastern Conference side DC United. Kickoff for that match will be 7:30 p.m. PT. Tickets are available at whitecapsfc.com/tickets.
In other action, Whitecaps FC 2 (WFC2) host their inaugural home opener tomorrow afternoon at UBC’s Thunderbird Stadium. Be a part of history and enjoy a festive atmosphere featuring food trucks, activities, a variety of beers, and live music. Tickets are still available at whitecapsfc.com/wfc2/wfc2tickets.