On a hot afternoon in Washington, DC Vancouver faced a D.C. United team that has been mired at the bottom of the MLS standings for much of the season. It may not have been a classic, but for a club that has rarely won on the road in the MLS-era that didn't matter. The Whitecaps played hard and more importantly did not suffer any collapses that let DC back into the game.
The First Half
There was some hectic and loose play early on in the half and both teams could have scored in the opening ten minutes. DC United's attack looked threatening at times in the half, but they were unable to score. The 'Caps had few offensive chances until the half hour mark when a rare Vancouver attack culminated with Matt Watson putting a header wide of the net. Shortly thereafter John Thorrington took a hard shot directly at Brad Knighton, who parried the shot and was able to clear. With five minutes left in the half Chris Korb went to ground clutching his face after tangling with Matt Watson. Replay showed that Watson did not get a hand or elbow anywhere near Korb's face. Moments later former Whitecap John Thorrington fouled Jordan Harvey hard. The 'Caps were awarded a free kick, but were unable to capitalize. In all there were not too many clear goal scoring opportunities in the first half - D.C. dictated the tempo of the half, but were unable to put anything past Whitecaps 'keeper Brad Knighton. The Caps' midfield looked a little anemic with midfield general Nigel Reo-Coker playing this match at right back in place of Young-Pyo Lee, who was given the game off to rest.
The Second Half
At the start of the second half a good effort from Kenny Miller was rewarded with a penalty kick as Matt Watson, who was racing onto Miller's pass, was brought down by D.C. United 'keeper Bill Hamid. Camilo Sanvezzo stepped up and converted the spot kick with surgical accuracy. D.C. looked to equalize immediately and forward Chris Pontius headed over the Vancouver net. Former Whitecap Alain Rochat also had a shot, but it too sailed over the goal harmlessly. As the game approached the hour mark the Whitecaps had a couple of chances and Daigo Kobayashi just barely missed adding a second goal on a chance from a corner kick. In the 64th minute Hamid stopped shots from Jordan Harvey and then Russell Teibert to keep the score at 1-0 for the 'Caps. Daigo had another quiet outing for the Blue and White and was brought off for Gershon Koffie, who was making his first appearance after being absent for several weeks with a quadriceps injury. A few minutes after returning to action Koffie was given a yellow card for holding back one of the United players in midfield. Darren Mattocks also returned to the field for his first appearance in several matches coming on for Camilo in the 76th minute. Also returning from injury tonight for the 'Caps was defender Bradford Rusin, who came on for Watson with just a few minutes remaining in the game as manager Martin Rennie shored up the defensive ranks. D.C. United had a couple last chances to tie the game deep into second half injury time, but Vancouver hung on to win and extend their current winning streak to 3 games.
The Final Word
- It may not have been an overly exciting match to watch, but the 'Caps took the advantage on the Camilo penalty and on the night that's all they needed. The mental lapses that we typically see in the beginning of the second half didn't occur tonight and DC was taking their chances all over the pitch to try and find an equalizer. The 'Caps did enough to win the game and at the end of the day the 3 points is what really counts.
- Russell Teibert will now leave the club to join the Canadian Men's National Team for the Gold Cup. The Whitecaps can expect to be without his services for at least the first two weeks of July and possibly longer should Canada progress past the group stage. Teibert will join team mate Simon Thomas, who joined the national team several days ago.
- Although defender Andy O'Brien did not make the trip to DC there is a possibility that he and Y.P. Lee will join the team in Kansas City for the Wednesday night match against Sporting Kansas City.
- Today's game saw the return of Koffie and Rusin. This along with the possibility that O'Brien is close to resuming playing is promising sign that the 'Caps are close to having a healthy defensive backline for the first time in several weeks.
Man of the Match
Although there were no individual performances that will see a Whitecaps player win Player of the Week honors for a third consecutive week I will still give Man of the Match to Camilo (Edit: Honorable mentions to both Matt Watson & Brad Knighton). Another game, another goal and winning streak extended. 'Nuff said.