VANCOUVER, BC – It’s going to be tough to top that week.
After a victory over the defending MLS Cup champs, a spectacular bicycle kick winner vs. Chicago Fire, and a thriller vs. Toronto FC, Vancouver Whitecaps FC now sit third in the Western Conference with 20 points and a 6W-5L-2D record.
It was a week to remember and it produced many different talking points.
Here are 10 of them:
There were many strong individual performances over the last week. You could go through the entire roster and talk about the contributions each player made during this run.
But how about Kekuta Manneh?
The kid was absolutely electric in Saturday's 4-3 win over TFC, bagging two goals and adding an assist in a Budweiser Man of the Match performance.
That includes this ankle-breaker.
Manneh deserves a lot of credit for his showing on Saturday, but so does Carl Robinson. The ‘Caps head coach made a key tactical adjustment for Saturday’s match, moving Manneh from the left wing to a central position underneath lone striker Erik Hurtado. It was a stroke of genius.
“[Kekuta] was fantastic … but a lot of credit to Carl for putting him in a role where we got the best out of him,” said ‘Caps keeper David Ousted. “Carl noticed chinks in the TFC armour and we used it. That tactical knowledge proved vital.”
The captain is back.
That may have been Pedro Morales’ best week in a Whitecaps FC uniform. Morales did Morales things like switching the ball across the field with pinpoint accuracy, gracefully dribbling out of tight situations, and scoring big goals like this one.
But he also embraced a new role that requires a lot more effort on the defensive side of the ball.
Against Portland and Chicago, Morales sat deeper as one of two central midfielders in front of the back line. And against Toronto, he played on the left wing. He impressed in both roles.
The goal against Toronto was a beauty, but this game-saving tackle was my highlight.
It took him a couple games to adjust, but Christian Bolaños has arrived.
In a big way.
The Costa Rican midfielder now has points in five straight games, including four goals. His creativity and link-up play from the wing has added a new dimension to Vancouver’s attack.
It’s still early days, but Bolaños is certainly putting himself in the MLS Newcomer of the Year discussion.
I just wanted another excuse to watch this goal again.
David Ousted, take a bow.
This was his fourth PK save since the start of last season. He also made three key saves on reigning MLS MVP Sebastian Giovinco in Saturday’s thriller at BMO Field.
News flash: this guy is good.
On Wednesday against Chicago, Jordan Harvey became Whitecaps FC’s new all-time regular season appearances leader in MLS with 134, surpassing previous record holder Gershon Koffie.
He now has 135.
Erik Hurtado didn’t see a minute of playing time in Vancouver’s first five matches this season.
But he didn’t sulk.
He just kept working. He played two games with WFC2 in the USL, and picked up two assists.
And this past week, Hurtado appeared in all three of Vancouver’s matches. He helped set up Blas Perez’s winner against Chicago and on Saturday against TFC, Hurtado got his first MLS regular season start since March 2015 – and did himself a “world of good,” according to Robinson.
“He's an example to all my young players,” Robinson said of Hurtado, who played a big part in Vancouver’s second goal. “He's come in in preseason, he hasn't sulked, he's got on with his work, he's put his head down when he's not been involved, he's had to play in the USL, he's done it. He's not knocked on my door and asked me why he's not playing. He deserved his chance [on Saturday] and I thought he was excellent.”
Let’s not forget about WFC2.
They got in on the fun Sunday afternoon at UBC, defeating LA Galaxy II 4-3 in a thriller of their own. Fifteen-year-old Whitecaps FC Residency product Alphonso Davies was one of WFC2’s goalscorers, making him the youngest player to ever score in the USL.
Pérez's reaction was priceless after his bicycle kick winner, but Japanese striker Masato Kudo gets the nod for this sumo celebration with Pa-Modou Kah after scoring his first MLS goal.
As the ‘Caps said before departing for Toronto, this was a week of “mixed emotions.”
There were a lot of positives, but there was also a big scare when Kudo was involved in a nasty collision in the 11th minute of Wednesday’s match vs. Chicago. Fortunately, Kudo has undergone successful surgery for a fractured jaw. There’s no word on a timeline for his return at this point, but the good news is that he’s back home and on the road to recovery.
Kudo is thankful for the outpouring of support he’s received.
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