There are few other ways to describe the Vancouver Whitecaps first ever foray into Yankee Stadium, to play New York City FC, then strange. Strangely, NYCFC had yet to win a home match this season and have a very poor record over their 1.5 years in Major League Soccer. Conversely, the Caps have been one of the top road teams in the same period of time. Despite these precursors, NYCFC obtained their first home victory this season, beating the Whitecaps 3-2.
While known ahead of time, there is no arguing that the field at Yankee Stadium is strange. It is much smaller than any other field in Major League Soccer and is on a weird diagonal that appears to vary from game-to-game. Adding to the strange was a sighting of Jordan Smith starting at right back…and it wasn’t pretty, but we will let the report card focus on that. At the other fullback spot, Sam Adekugbe was making his first start of the season in place of Jordan Harvey while Pa-Modou Kah filled in for the suspended Kendall Waston.
The strange afternoon continued in the opening minute of the match, with Octavio Rivero FINALLY scoring a goal for the Whitecaps. However, it was anything but pretty, and it could be argued that he almost missed an open net. Nevertheless, we had a Rivero goal sighting and that is a positive for the Whitecaps if Carl Robinson is going to continue trying to start Rivero.
Shortly after his goal, Rivero missed a great opportunity to put the Whitecaps up 2-0, after a great ball from Nicolas Mezquida. Following that miss, Rivero was substituted off with an ankle injury, in the 27th minute.
Despite some early positive play, it was only a matter of time before the patchwork Whitecaps defense was exploited by the creative David Villa. Sure enough Villa came through for NYCFC in the 35th minute. Strangely, Villa has an interesting pattern this season of either not scoring or scoring twice. And that pattern continued in the 41st minute with a potential goal-of-the-week candidate side volley goal, off a nicely lofted corner kick from Pirlo.
Down 2-1, the Whitecaps were able to get back into the game in the 63rd minute, thanks to Kekuta Manneh being taken down in the box. With Pedro Morales and Octavio Rivero not in the match it was unclear who would take the penalty. Turns out that it would be Christian Bolanos. Let’s just say that hopefully that is the LAST penalty kick he takes as it was very poor. Luckily Saunders spilled the soft penalty kick and Bolanos was able to follow-up on his kick and put the ball in the net.
The Whitecaps were only able to remain tied for 10 minutes as substitute Steven Mendoza was a sparkplug for NYCFC to finish out the match and scored a lovely near-post goal in the 73rd minute to put NYCFC ahead for good.
It certainly was a strange one in New York City. What were your thoughts?
Next up for the Vancouver Whitecaps will be a key home match against Portland Timbers!