Some sloppy defensive work in the first half sunk the Vancouver Whitecaps, as they fell 3-2 to the Montreal Impact on opening day. Despite a massive crowd at BC Place and several new additions on the pitch ready to impress them, the Whitecaps fell flat and opened the 2016 season with a loss.
The Whitecaps didn't have many surprises in their lineup. David Ousted took his regular spot in net, while Kendall Waston and Tim Parker partnered at center back, and Fraser Aird and Jordan Harvey took the wings. Matias Laba set up shop in the defensive midfield, joined with youngster Kianz Froese and Christian Bolanos in a 4-3-2-1 formation. Froese took the spot of Russell Teibert, who's nursing a calf injury. That meant Pedro Morales and Cristian Techera in the attacking midfield, and Octavio Rivero up top.
The first half really couldn't have gone better for the Montreal Impact. Despite winning just four matches away from home last season, the Impact had the early jump. In the 19th minute, they would stun the Whitecaps and silence the crowd with the game's opening goal. Nacho Piatti made a couple of Whitecaps look absolutely silly before pushing a perfect shot past David Ousted.
The Whitecaps tried to respond quickly, but Octavio Rivero ripped a shot that dinged off the crossbar and kept the Whitecaps down by one. It would only get worse a few minutes later, as a rare gaff from Ousted would put the Whitecaps down 2-0. Impact striker Dominic Oduro was racing Kendall Waston for a ball deep in the Whitecaps end, when Ousted came charging out to try and cut it off. Instead, he completely missed the ball, Oduro didn't, and he scored the easiest goal of his career to double the lead.
Thankfully, the Whitecaps would show life before the end of the half. Jordan Harvey, playing ahead of youngster Sam Adekugbe,was able to get a foot on a beautiful Pedro Morales free kick to cut the lead to 2-1. Although the Whitecaps attack looked a little stunted in the first half, Morales had a few wonderful passes reminiscent of the 2014 season.
In the 66th minute, Blas Perez came in for Kianz Froese, marking the veteran MLS striker's first regular season appearance in a Whitecaps kit. It certainly was a sight to see the former villain greeted by rousing applause from the Whitecaps faithful.
The Whitecaps really turned the pressure up, but were unable to beat Montreal Goalkeeper Evan Busch, who was absolutely spectacular in the second half. Perhaps his best was a one handed punch on an Octavio Rivero shot that looked destined for the back of the net.
Kendall Waston also had a header that Busch was able to get his fingers on.
Oduro and Piatti would burn the Whitecaps again in the closing moments, as they were able to break in on the counter attack two men to one. Oduro then lobbed a perfect pass to Piatti, who slide the ball past David Ousted to fully put the match out of reach. It was another blemish on what was an uncharacteristically ugly night for the Danish keeper.
Piatti makes it 3-1 for Montreal! https://t.co/6lRU8HUy9M— SheerMLS (@SheerMLS) March 7, 2016
Kendall Waston would score a header off a corner to cut the lead to 3-2, but it was in the dying moments of stoppage time and the match would end shortly after.
GIF: Waston with the goal off the corner ... pic.twitter.com/u2fqyHWPz1— Vancouver Whitecaps (@WhitecapsFC) March 7, 2016
A disappointing start to the season, although there are still plenty of matches left to play.
By the way, did anybody catch the commercial that literally ran while the match was going on? In the second half, while the Whitecaps are trying to come back and fans are no doubt wanting to see every moment. What a joke.