Three points is three points;That's the old adage right? It seems to imply that it doesn't matter how ugly a win is, it's still a win. I try to take solace in that fact after matches like tonight's, where the Whitecaps quite nearly did the usual and snatched mediocrity out of the clutches of success. Still; a win is apparently a win.
THE FIRST HALF
It was a terrible start for our boys, and I mean that in every sense of the word. The backline of the Whitecaps would continuously just watch Revolution players waltz deep into their zone, almost refusing to do anything about it. I guess that's why most fans weren't surprised to watch the Whitecaps fall behind 2-0 early. Just 10' in, the Whitecaps would give Agudelo a clear path to the net, with the back four parting like the red sea. Brad Knighton couldn't make the save, although there's no way he could be blamed for it. It was 1-0 Revs', and it looked like things were going to get ugly. As the 'Caps ran like they were trapped in quicksand, New England struck again, aided by a mis-communication between Jordan Harvey and Brad Knighton. Knighton wanted to play a ball in the box, but Harvey played it instead, eventually giving it away to the Revolution. A couple of quick passes later, and Kelyn Rowe had essentially a tap in for the 2-0 lead.
As the Whitecaps looked like they would crumble into dust at any moment, the soccer gods saw their heart ache and rewarded them. As Kenny Miller took a long through ball, he was clipped from behind in the box, resulting in both a red card for Andrew Farrell, and a penalty to be taken by Camilo. When Camilo snapped home a no doubter to make it 2-1, the Whitecaps suddenly had life. Like Frankenstein's monster surging to life with a well timed thunderbolt strike, Miller and Camilo had suddenly snapped the Van City boys into consciousness.
Was a red warranted for the challenge? On twitter I said it was not a flop by Miller, but upon further review, it sure does look like he clipped his own ankle going down. I can see why the referee made the call, but at the same time, I really don't think it deserved a red.
Up a man, the Whitecaps looked like an entirely new squad. At 39', they would find equal footing, courtesy of the old man. Kenny Miller took another through ball, finding himself with one man to beat. He cleverly flipped the ball over the head of the Revolution defender, running onto it and settling it down. He then, in stride, finished perfectly, tying the match up at 2.
With a wave of momentum propelling them back into the match, the Whitecaps refused to take their foot off the gas pedal, scoring their third goal of the match at 42'. An amazing cross from Russell Teibert found the foot of a sliding Jordan Harvey, who would make no mistake for the 3-2 lead. While Harvey and the rest of the backline looked shaky early, he redeemed himself with the go ahead goal, sending the Whitecaps into the locker room with the one goal lead.
THE SECOND HALF
The second half was almost an exact opposite of the first, with Vancouver starting strong, only to have the Revs finish the match stronger. At 68', the Whitecaps looked to put the final nail in the Revs' coffin, with Kenny Miller notching his second goal of the match. As he controlled outside the box, Miller lobbed a perfect shot behind Goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth that brought the 'Caps faithful to their feet. The old man, nearly run out of town last season, put the Whitecaps on his back and helped will them to victory tonight.
However, the Rev's weren't ready to quit. They kept pressing for a goal, something to bring them back into this match. Sadly enough, the Whitecaps would oblige them. With Nigel Reo-Coker off after appearing to tweak his hamstring, the Revs' would score at 84' thanks to an absolutely beautiful strike from Dimitry Imbongo. Imbongo beat Carlyle Mitchell to the ball, then held him off before firing a rocket past Brad Knighton. It was that kind of an night for Mitchell, who showed glimpses of promise, but his fair share of mistakes as well. In short, it was pretty much what we all expected from the young defender.
As the Rev's continued to pressure with just minutes left in the match, it was almost appropriate that the final shot would fall to a Whitecaps nemesis; Lee Nguyen. Yes, the man the 'Caps cast off after a boneheaded, homophobic tweet last year, looked to spoil another match for his former club. If you remember, last season Nguyen scored twice in a Revs victory, making the 'Caps sorry they ever parted ways with him. Could he do it again? With almost no time left in the match, Nguyen would line up for a free kick in a dangerous spot. His shot was a curling wonder, destined for the top left corner of the net. However, Brad Knighton stood tall, leaping and knocking the ball out of play with his left hand. The 'Caps would manage to escape with a victory, although not a pleasant one, in front of a healthy crowd at BC Place. Three points is three points, but god damn if that wasn't a rough victory for the 'Caps. Entertaining? Hell yes. Technically sound football? In no way, shape or form.
THE FINAL WORD
I'm not one to complain about officiating, but this match was almost laughable. The official appeared to lose control of the match, as bodies from both sides flew with such regularity, you would think there were mines on the field. Lee Nguyen may be a good player, but I know I'm glad to see that whiner on the opposing side of the pitch. What an annoying, frustrating player to have to watch dive up and down the pitch all knight. Yikes. Brad Knighton is playing for his job, but didn't look so tonight. With rumors swirling Goalkeeper David Ousted may join the club, Knighton produced a pedestrian performance, something that he cannot be blamed fully for, with the 'Caps green backline. Still, he's making Martin Rennie's roster decisions a whole lot easier. Darren Mattocks didn't see the pitch, even as a substitute. Erik Hurtado and Kekuta Manneh got those honors. Was Rennie simply resting Mattocks after his International call up, or is there something more here? Daigo Kobayashi and Matt Watson showed next to nothing on the pitch, despite being up a man. Maybe we'll see Mattocks in mid next. Finally, it's almost embarrassing that the 'Caps struggled to get out with a decision, even though they had the extra man. When you allow an undermanned squad to give you a run for your money, you're essentially broadcasting to the rest of the league that you're not ready for primetime.
Man of the Match: Are you joking? Kenny Miller. Two goals, drew a penalty kick; he was unstoppable.