VANCOUVER, BC – Vancouver Whitecaps FC (6W-7L-3D) fell 2-1 to New England Revolution (4W-4L-7D) in their return to MLS play on Saturday in front of a sold-out crowd at BC Place.
The ‘Caps dominated almost every category on the stats sheet, outshooting New England 17-8 and controlling 63.5 per cent of possession.
But New England proved clinical with their limited opportunities.
Goals from London Woodberry and Kelyn Rowe cancelled out a lovely Nicolas Mezquida free kick as Whitecaps FC saw their seven-match home unbeaten run in MLS come to an end.
"The performance was excellent, I just said to the guys in there," Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson told reporters. "The result is disappointing. I’ve got a disappointed bunch of players in there. I think we didn’t get what we deserved today. I think we deserved to win the game, but it’s what you do in both boxes."
There were all sorts of storylines going into this one.
The ‘Caps were without centre back Kendall Waston, midfielder/captain Pedro Morales, and striker Octavio Rivero due to suspension, while New England were coming off a 120-minute U.S Open Cup fixture on Wednesday night in North Carolina.
It was also goalkeeper David Ousted’s 100th straight MLS start.
And he was going up his predecessor Brad Knighton, who made his first MLS start since July 2015. Knighton was one of three former Whitecaps FC players in New England’s starting lineup. The others were midfielders Lee Nguyen and Daigo Kobayashi – Gershon Koffie was out with a knee injury.
Robinson spoke this week about the similarities between the two sides – both in terms of personnel and style of play. And there wasn’t much between them in the early going.
The ‘Caps threatened a bit in the first few minutes, but New England had the first real chance in the 23rd minute when Rowe headed a Chris Tierney cross off the bar from the top of the six-yard box. The visitors opened the scoring shortly later.
In the 31st minute, Woodberry got on the end of a curling Nguyen free kick at the back post and headed in his first career MLS goal.
The ‘Caps responded just before the break on a set piece of their own.
After Kekuta Manneh drew a foul, Mezquida curled in a lovely free kick from 20 yards to draw the game level in the 41st minute. It was Mezquida’s first MLS goal of the season and second in as many games including last week’s Amway Canadian Championship tally.
Unfortunately for the sold-out crowd, New England regained the lead in the 55th minute.
There were appeals for a foul in the build-up when Russell Teibert went to ground after a Daigo Kobayashi tackle. Play continued and Teal Bunbury found Rowe open at the top of the box with a low pass from the right corner. Rowe then fired it in first time to put New England ahead 2-1.
The rest of the match was all Vancouver.
Their best chance came in the 70th minute thanks to some great work down the left by a lively Erik Hurtado, who beat his man before laying it off to Manneh at the centre of the box.
It was not to be.
Manneh smashed it over the goal and the chance went begging. Robinson made all three of his subs in the second half, bringing on Christian Bolaños, Blas Perez, and eventually Marco Bustos, but an equalizer just wasn’t in the cards on the night.
"If we want to be a top team, if we want to be at the top of the league, top of our conference, we need to start being more clinical in the final third," Teibert said after the match. "We're creating chances and that's a positive we can take from this. But we need to start scoring goals and finishing off the play."
It’s a quick turnaround for Whitecaps FC after this one, as they head out east to face Toronto FC in the first leg of the Amway Canadian Championship Final on Tuesday at BMO Field (4:30 p.m. PT on TSN1/4 and TSN 1410 radio). The Voyageurs Cup will then be awarded on Wednesday, June 29 when Whitecaps FC host the decisive second leg at BC Place (tickets on sale NOW).
MCMILLAN ‘CAPS CORNER KICK DONATIONS
For every ‘Caps corner kick at home, McMillan donates $100 to the United Way. An additional $500 is donated for every goal scored off a corner kick. This match McMillan Corners for Kids has donated $500for a running total of $7,500.
Budweiser Man of the Match: Erik Hurtado
Referee: Ismail Elfath
31’ – NE – London Woodberry (Lee Nguyen)
41’ – VAN – Nicolas Mezquida
55’ – NE – Kelyn Rowe (Teal Bunbury)
Possession: Vancouver 63.4 % – New England 36.6 %
Shots: Vancouver 17 – New England 8
Shots on Goal: Vancouver 4 – New England 3
Saves: Vancouver 1 – New England 3
Fouls: Vancouver 15 – New England 10
Offsides: Vancouver 2 – New England 0
Corners: Vancouver 5 – New England 4
35’ – VAN – Jordan Smith
36’ – VAN – Andrew Jacobson
40’ – NE – London Woodberry
82’ – VAN – Matias Laba
88’ – NE – Jose Goncalves
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
1.David Ousted ©; 6.Jordan Smith (32.Marco Bustos 85’), 17.Andrew Jacobson, 26.Tim Parker, 2.Jordan Harvey; 15.Matías Laba, 31.Russell Teibert; 13.Cristian Techera (7.Christian Bolaños 66’), 11.Nicolás Mezquida (27.Blas Pérez 66’), 23.Kekuta Manneh; 19.Erik Hurtado
Substitutes not used
70.Paolo Tornaghi, 3.Sam Adekugbe, 14.Cole Seiler, 30.Ben McKendry
New England Revolution
18.Brad Knighton; 2.Andrew Farrell, 23.Jose Goncalves, 28.London Woodberry, 8.Chris Tierney; 16.Daigo Kobayashi (14.Diego Fagundez 63’), 6.Scott Caldwell; 10.Teal Bunbury (15.Je-Vaughn Watson 74’), 24.Lee Nguyen © (17.Juan Agudelo 90’ + 1’), 11.Kelyn Rowe; 13.Kei Kamara
Substitutes not used
22.Bobby Shuttleworth, 4.Steve Neumann, 21.Zachary Herivaux, 40.Samba
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