Looking back on tonight's midweek match, it appears that Carl Robinson underestimated the Vancouver Whitecaps' cross-country opponents. The 'Caps head coach picked a lineup heavy on fringe players and substitutes and ended up paying the price, coming up empty handed for the third time in four games. Russell Teibert (manbun-less for a change), Nicolas Mezquida, Kekuta Manneh, Darren Mattocks, Mauro Rosales, Tim Parker, and Diego Rodriguez all slotted into the starting XI.
For the first ten minutes, the changes looked to have paid off. The Whitecaps looked sharp and kept possession well. Mezquida was working even harder than usual, and Manneh had a few energetic runs down the wing. But despite the bright start, the 'Caps found themselves a goal down in the 14th minute. Laurent Ciman rattled a world-class volley off of the crossbar before Jack Mcinerney tucked away the rebound behind a bewildered David Ousted.
The goal knocked the wind out of the Whitecaps sails and for the next half an hour the game lacked flow. Passes were out of sync and defensive play was lazy. It wasn't until the last few minutes before halftime that the excitement picked up. Mauro Rosales was taken down in the box by a Laurent Ciman sliding challenge, but no penalty was called. Shortly afterwards, Darren Mattocks rattled the woodwork with a half-volley. Unfortunately for the Whitecaps, they still couldn't find the back of the net and finished the first 45' down by one.
The second half was kick-started with a rash challenge from Diego Rodriguez, which resulted in a yellow card and a dangerous free kick for the Impact. The next 30 minutes were punctuated by frequent half-chances and a plethora of useless Whitecaps corner kicks. Finally, the 'Caps made a breakthrough via a penalty goal from Pedro Morales. Jordan Harvey was taken down in the box and El Capitano finished the chance with aplomb.
Not five minutes later, the Impact were back in the lead. Sloppy defending and a lack of defensive presence in the midfield let Ignacio Piatti waltz the ball past a helpless David Ousted.
To give the Caps credit, their response to the second Montreal goal was to play a spell of some of their best soccer of the night. Unfortunately, the necessary finishing composure was lacking and the game petered out beyond the Whitecaps' reach.
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