Redemption Back at Home?

Can Andy O'Brien and the rest of the Vancouver Whitecaps finally get back on track? - Jessica Haydahl

Winless in their last 12 matches on the road - a streak that goes back to July of last year - the Vancouver Whitecaps are a team in search of redemption. And after a longish stint on the road who better to offer the Caps a bit of a reprieve than Salt Lake City this weekend when the Caps host at B.C. Place?

The Caps faced Real Salt Lake three times last season, playing to deadlock, with each side taking a home 2-1 victory, and the two playing to a scoreless draw in Salt Lake to wrap up the season.

And again this season, it would appear that the Caps and RSL match up exceptionally evenly: They stand fifth and sixth respectively in the Western Conference - both with seven points, but the Caps with a match in hand. Vancouver boasts six goals for, but has allowed six markers through five matches. Salt Lake has potted five in the current campaign, and given up six of their own. Thus far, RSL is averaging 14 shots attempted per match, compared to Vancouver's 12. And, just to bear out the similarity, Real is getting a shade under five shots on net per match, while the Caps are averaging five on the nose in that department.

The theme of "squandered opportunities" has largely been the common thread running through the last month for the Whitecaps. And again, the summation applies to their performance on the road thus far in 2013.

Now that they're back home can they finally manage to shake this monkey off their backs and return it to the IKEA parking lot from which it came? Well, if the Caps are looking for redemption, then Salt Lake City is about as good a team to offer it.

Fade back to July 27, 2012... The Caps have left the friendly confines of B.C. Place, where they most recently dispatched San Jose 2-1. It's a warm summer evening - perfect conditions for a match. At the 10' mark, Luis Gil gets a decent look and fires just over the crossbar. It's game on! Just past the half-hour mark, and CB Jay DeMerit gets called for a forearm across the nose of Kyle Beckerman in an aerial battle in the penalty area. Alvaro Saborio takes the PK, and it's 1-0 RSL.

Saborio would later score again in the second half, outclimbing Martin Bonjour to header home to put RSL up 2-1 after Mattocks had knotted things by outracing RSL keeper Nick Rimando to a lob wedge feed from Camilo Sanvezzo and tapping it in from a sharp angle in the 52nd minute.

The squandering began immediately thereafter:

  • 53rd minute - Mattocks slots a beautifully weighted ball into the path of onrushing Jun Marques Davidson at the top of the RSL box, dead center. He's at least one postal code away from his nearest marker, take the strike without having to break stride, but pulls the shot, putting it off the post to Rimando's right.
  • 62nd minute, Caps trailing 2-1. Mattocks skies one from 8 yards out after taking a touch that was slightly too heavy.
  • 71st minute, from exactly the same spot as Mattocks' miss, Camilo is in 1 on 1 with a gap on the near post. His right-footed screamer is too close to Rimando gets hands to the shot but Caps get on the rebound... Miller gets a free header, but it goes wide and is weakly cleared... right to Mattocks who skies one again.
  • 82nd minute, Richards picks out Miller for another unchallenged header.... wide of the back post from 10 yds out.
  • 76th minute, Joe Cannon is red carded for handling outside the box. His sliding effort to cut off Fabian Espindola and make the stop puts the Caps down to 10 men, but it's still a break for the Caps, as Espindola would have been in all alone, and probably would have buried it for a 3-1 scoreline.

Final score: RSL 2, Caps 1, Missed Chances: 6.

After five weeks, the Caps are almost home. With memories of last July - and the opportunities lost in the last three weeks - perhaps a visit from RSL will lie along their road to redemption.

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