It took a late, opportunistic goal from 'The Bug', but the Vancouver Whitecaps snapped a two match losing streak in MLS Regular season play with a 2-1 victory over Real Salt Lake. In a teeter totter match of momentum, the Whitecaps would get the last laugh, as they improved to 23 points on the season thanks to goals from Cristian Techera and Gershon Koffie.
While plenty of warts on the Whitecaps game were exposed, the club was able to secure the victory, and now will look to Wednesday when they take on Montreal. Seriously though, can anybody on this club execute a header, or strike a corner kick?
The First 45
The first half saw the Whitecaps with plenty of chances, and a little bit unlucky to walk away with a 1-1 score. The 'Caps attacked early and often, and the trio of Octavio Rivero, Cristian Techera and Mauro Rosales looked like they were clicking with some nice runs and build up play. Techera especially looked very good, and perhaps will make life a little more difficult for Kekuta Manneh and Darren Mattocks, as they fight for playing time.
In the 24th minute, the Whitecaps had their first excellent chance; Octavio Rivero showed some nifty footwork and tenacity as he fended off a few RSL defenders deep in the attacking end. Rivero then pushed the ball in front of the net to a wide open Gershon Koffie, but his redirect shot clanged off the crossbar and the match remained at 0.
The Whitecaps were able to manufacture a few header chances of set pieces, but couldn't put any of them home. Pa Modou Kah pounded the turf in frustration following his own missed header chance in the 32nd minute. Surely the 'Caps can do better in this regard, especially Kendall Waston who has yet to score a goal in 2015.
Thankfully, Gershon Koffie, making his 100th MLS appearance at the ripe old age of 23, would redeem himself later in the half.
In the 36th minute, Koffie intercepted a clearing attempt a few yards outside the box, then unleashed an absolute stunner that sailed past the outstretched arms of a soaring Nick Rimando. Koffie, who's currently battling it out with Russell Teibert for a spot in the starting lineup, showed why Carl Robinson may have a difficult decision on his hand moving forward.
It was an absolutely wonderful goal, but unfortunately, it wasn't the only beauty of the half. After the Koffie goal, the Whitecaps continued to up the pressure on the RSL backline, but RSL would be the ones to break through with a gorgeous marker in the 45th minute.
Javier Morales won a free kick, then absolutely blasted a shot past David Ousted to knot the match up at 1, a perfectly timed goal that took the wind out of the crowd heading into the half. It was Morales' 3rd goal of the season.
RSL rode that momentum to start the second half, and really were creating the better chances. Octavio Rivero nearly turned the tide with a partial breakaway in the 60th minute, but Nick Rimando came up big to deny him. In the 64th minute, the Whitecaps got a big save from their keeper, as David Ousted was just able to stop a close header. The ball then bounced dangerously in the area for what seemed like an eternity, before the Whitecaps were able to clear.
The 'Caps made their first substitution of the match in the 69th minute, bringing Kekuta Manneh on for Mauro Rosales. The Whitecaps were obviously hoping some fresh, incredibly quick legs would be able to provide some trouble for RSL. It worked, as the Whitecaps were able to gain some momentum back, however they left fans wanting more with a slew of disappointing corner kicks. The club had eight in a five minute span and came up empty, and that's with guys who are supposed to be aces at them, like Pedro Morales and Cristian Techera.
In any case, the Whitecaps didn't stop working and were rewarded in the 79th minute, when Techera scored his first goal as a Whitecap. It was an absolute gift to be sure, as there appeared to be a miscommunication between Rimando and defender Elias Vazquez. Techera took advantage, stealing the ball and tucking it home to give the Whitecaps the edge.
It would prove to be the match deciding goal, as the Whitecaps took three points in their final home match for a while. Due to Women's World Cup scheduling, the Whitecaps won't play at BC Place again until July 12th.
Lineup: 1.David Ousted; 33.Steven Beitashour, 4.Kendall Waston, 44.Pa-Modou Kah, 2.Jordan Harvey; 15.Matías Laba, 28.Gershon Koffie; 7.Mauro Rosales (69' Kekuta Manneh), 77.Pedro Morales (Russell Teibert 90'), 13.Cristian Techera (Darren Mattocks 86'); 29.Octavio Rivero
Our Man of the Match: It has to be Gershon Koffie, who was solid defensively all night, and scored perhaps the most beautiful goal of his career. A terrific night for one of the original MLS Whitecaps.
Match Attendance: 21,000