SANDY, UT - Fans of the Vancouver Whitecaps, who were forced to endure the agony of a brutal opening ten minutes of the match, had their faith rewarded by a pair of late goals by the Uruguayan duo of Nicolás Mezquida and Sebastián Fernández to steal a point at the Rio Tinto Stadium earlier today.
The First Half
It was not all rosy for the Whitecaps, who were badly outplayed by Real Salt Lake during the first half of the match. The Caps were fortunate to make it to half time only down by a pair of goals after they were punished in the early minutes of the game by Joao Plata and Alvaro Saborio respectively.
Plata opened the scoring in only the second minute after RSL took control of the ball after a giveaway by Russell Teibert. Plata pounced on the ball and managed to put a well-placed shot under David Ousted to make it 1 - 0 for the home side.
Real looked to be in control right from the opening kick-off, and in the tenth minute Saborio smashed a rising, curling shot into Ousted's net after some hard work by Ned Grabavoy and some timid defending from the Whitecaps to extend RSL's lead to 2 - 0.
After a disastrous start to this match it certainly seemed that this one was setting up to be a match that would end badly for Carl Robinson and his Whitecaps. Just minutes after the Caps had conceded goal number two Kyle Beckerman could have easily made it three for RSL, but his shot from the top of the box went straight into the hands of David Ousted.
Despite being badly outplayed for most of the first half Vancouver's best chance of the first half came in the twenty-sixth minute when Jordan Harvey's cross was only partially cleared by the Real defenders and the ball landed at the feet of young Kekuta Manneh. The young Gambian, who was the hero in saving a point against the LA Galaxy last week, could not find a finish and was dispossessed of the ball before he could get a shot on Nick Rimando.
Harvey also had a chance to get the Caps onto the score sheet just after the half hour mark after he got his head to a Teibert cross, but had to watch as the ever reliable Rimando tipped his effort just over the crossbar.
The Second Half
The Whitecaps made no substitutions at half and and elected to continue with the same group of players that started the match, but by the hour mark it was clear that Vancouver would not make a breakthrough without injecting some energy and creativity into the game. Therefore, by the sixty-seventh minute Erik Hurtado (Teibert), Sebastián Fernández (Manneh) and Nicolás Mezquida (Miller) had all entered the match in hopes that the Caps could salvage something from the game.
Robinson's substitutions gave the Caps the life that they needed, but they were still unable to find a way to score and get back into the game until the eighty-sixth minute when Mezquida tapped in a rebound to give the Caps hope in the dying minutes of the match.
As the match drew to a close Saborio was dispossessed of the ball in midfield by Steven Beitashour and Fernández, who has not been in the best of form in recent weeks, smashed home the tying goal from 25 yards with virtually the last play of the match.
The Final Word
This match can essentially be summed up (rather simplistically) in that Vancouver started the match poorly and RSL finished the match poorly. While RSL was in control for large periods of the game they lost their composure at a crucial time late in the match. Despite a poor first half the Whitecaps did take advantage of the little that RSL gave them and for a second week in a row some last minute heroics saved a point for the Blue and White.
As we have seen all too often this season the Caps were once again burned by sloppy play and defending in their own third of the field. Also, they have not moved the ball well through the midfield which provided the forwards with very little service.
The Whitecaps will have to find a way to improve upon their weaknesses in a hurry because the tough April schedule is soon to be followed by a tough May which will see the Caps play face the San Jose Earthquakes, Columbus Crew and culminates with a match against our Cascadia bretheren, the Seattle Sounders on May 24th at BC Place.
Man of the Match: Sebastián Fernández
Highlights: Real Salt Lake 2 - 2 Whitecaps FC
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Post Match Interview: David Ousted
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Post Match Interview: Darren Mattocks
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Post Match: Kekuta Manneh
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