The Vancouver Whitecaps end a successful month of May with a draw to add to three wins and one loss. It was a game against a struggling Dynamo team that recently lost their coach and showed up with some fight in them.
There were some expected moments and surprisingly unexpected moments in the match. Few expected Jordan Smith to start at RB, especially after being passed over for a CB last week in Portland with Fraser Aird’s suspension. But perhaps even more unexpectedly, Smith played a powerful and effective game by making strong, timely tackles, playing a two way game running up and down the right side and sending cross after cross into the box in the second half. It was Smith’s best game as a Whitecap, and he needed it to be.
Also new in the lineup this week was Andrew Jacobson in place of Kendal Waston who was called up on international duty. He joined Parker and Harvey on the back line. Russell Teibert slotted back in next to Matias Laba, which placed Pedro Morales back on the wing with Christian Techera on the right. Up top, Kekuta Manneh and the returning Octavio Rivero combined in a two-striker formation.
The whistle blew, the crowd roared… and the ‘Caps got off to another slow start. Houston took control of the game for the first twenty minutes. Morales did fire a lovely touch and turn shot at the keeper off a ball from Smith, but Houston opened the scoring in the twentieth minute on a goal by DaMarcus Beasley.
Then the expected happened. The Whitecaps picked up yet another red card, their sixth of the season. After a series of tackles by Alex that resulted in kicks to the back of Morales’ legs tempers flared and the two came together. After some deliberation Drew Fischer issued red cards to both and each team would finish the game with ten men. Another controversial call as the referee told Robinson that Pedro got his hands up in Alex’s face, however, Pedro and the replay suggest otherwise.
Playing with ten men suited the ‘Caps as Rivero immediately forced Tyler Deric into a good save. The ‘Caps came out in the second half and continued to attack. They were rewarded in the 52nd minute by another unexpected moment, an Octavio Rivero goal off a corner kick. It wasn’t a tap in or a goal bumbled into the net, it was a striker’s goal curled in behind the post and just past the keeper’s outstretched hands - from the top of the box - as he was moving backwards.
The ‘Caps continued to press for the win by possessing the ball and surging forward. They kept moving the ball up the flanks to service anyone in the box with crosses. They continued to carry the play in the second half, save for a Miranda header that hit the post off a Houston corner. Techera struck a promising ball labeled for the top corner that was parried away by a stretching Deric. Unfortunately, it was one of the few times we noticed Techera in the game. David Ousted, who was only called on to make one save this day, made it a beauty. It was a diving save off his outstretched hand in the 87th minute that, surely, saved the team a point. ‘Caps fans can be thankful that these kinds of saves can be expected from Ousted each time he steps on the pitch.
While the ‘Caps fought back to a 1-1 draw, their slow start and inability to finish one of many second half chances will leave them thinking they could have had more.