Going into their game against Houston Dynamo, the Vancouver Whitecaps were winless in their last five and had scored only four times in their last seven games. Despite their poor run of form, a win and a failure to win by the LA Galaxy, at Sporting Kansas City, the Whitecaps could still finish in 2nd place in the West and receive a bye to the Conference Semi-finals. However, a loss and a combination of other outcomes and the Whitecaps could finish in 6th, facing an away playoff game.
The Vancouver Whitecaps came out strong, showing that they wanted to win the game and put pressure on the LA Galaxy to win their game. The ‘Techera-effect’ was evident early, as he snuffed out a poor back pass to Joe Willis, squaring a ball to the head of Octavio Rivero. If not for an excellent recovery from Willis, the Whitecaps would have been up early. Despite the unsuccessful attempt, the Whitecaps continued to pressure, with a blistering shot along the turf by Matías Laba, followed by another hot shot from Cristian Techera from just outside the box. Despite the strong start, the Whitecaps were not able to get ahead. As the results from other Western Conference games began to trickle in, the Whitecaps were facing a 5th place finish, and at halftime were set to travel down to Seattle to play midweek.
Despite the nervous tension among Whitecaps fans, and I am sure players, the team came out strong in the second half and looked poise to score a goal. In the 59th minute that goal finally came with Kekuta Manneh scoring his first goal since the forgettable collapse at Sporting Kansas City in August. The goal vaulted the Whitecaps up to 2nd in the Western Conference. Still uneasy, the match was finally put away, thanks to a 72nd minute goal from newly crowned 2015 Whitecaps Player of the Year, Kendall Waston. This type of last game heroics may now become tradition with Waston, as you will recall it was he who scored off a corner kick last year, on this day, to send the Whitecaps to the playoffs. This year, his goal seals the ‘Caps place as 2nd seed. Potentially unsurprising, a last minute substitution of Robert Earnshaw resulted in his 2nd goal of the season; and possibly his last as a professional?
The Vancouver Whitecaps made it hard on themselves, but in the end the ‘Caps achieved their goals, and more, set out at the beginning of the season. They finish with 16 wins and 53 points, and 3rd overall in Major League Soccer. In addition, their win today means that they will be the top seed in next season’s Voyageurs Cup (Amway Canadian Championship) and will not have to play Montreal Impact or Toronto FC in the first round. The Whitecaps will now begin their 2015 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs on the road next Sunday, November 1st, followed by the return leg at BC Place on November 8th.
Highlights package to come.
What were your thoughts on the game? Relieved? Excited? Where will you be November 8th?