In their first MLS action since their 1-1 draw with the Houston Dynamo at the end of May, the day begin positively enough with the news that David Ousted would be playing in his 100th consecutive match for the blue-and-white. And with the absence of Pedro Morales due to suspension, Ousted was named captain and given a special armband for the evening, out of respect for the recent events in Orlando:
Also very proud of what that captain band symbolized tonight #OrlandoUnited— David Ousted (@David_Ousted) 19 June 2016
With Morales, Octavio Rivero, and Kendall Waston all facing suspensions, Russell Teibert, Erik Hurtado, and Andrew Jacobson all drew into the lineup, while Jordan Smith featured again at right back for Fraser Aird.
(Interestingly, Aird was listed as injured from the bone bruise suffered a few weeks back, but not as such on the lineup released by the Whitecaps).
As for the Revs lineup, there was a warm (and by "warm" I mean "less hostile than usual") reception from the home fans when Lee Nguyen, Daigo Kobayashi, and Brad Knighton, all former Whitecaps, were announced as starters. Knighton's selection seemed most peculiar, after having played 120 minutes in the U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday, leaving regular 'keeper Bobby Shuttleworth on the bench.
The one former 'Cap we all would liked to have seen, Gershon Koffie, was left off the roster with a right knee sprain.
Or, for a more "nail on the head" observation:
The score 20 mins in is: MLS took a two week break and it shows.— Marc Weber (@ProvinceWeber) 18 June 2016
No, not everyone was on break during the MLS hiatus (Christian Bolaños and Blas Perez for the Whitecaps, and Je-Vaughn Watson for the Revs, all returned from the Copa América Centenario), but the first twenty mintues was filled with cautious, sometimes sloppy, play as each side tried to find a foothold.
The first significant chance saw Kelyn Rowe latch on to a long Chris Tierney cross, but Rowe's header rocketed off the wordwork. The two linked up again moments later, this time getting Kobayashi involved, with the end result being Kei Kamara's skyball out of play.
But New England wouldn't be denied for long. On a Nguyen freekick, London Woodberry climbed high to head home his first career goal. For some reason, his goal celebration consisted of giving the Hulk Hogan Ear to the Southsiders, but that show of hubris proved to be ironic moments later.
After yellow cards were given to Smith (questionable, though wreckless) and Andrew Jacobson (deserved, though from his POV, possibly retaliatory for a Tierney high elbow just before), Woodberry himself was booked outside the Revs' penalty area. Thankfully, Nicolas Mezquida was there to make him pay:
(Incidentally, the MLS website listed Woodberry's YC for a handball. Though the ball did strike his arm and the card was most likely given for his hip check on Kekuta Manneh, later in the match he did appear to handle the ball intentionally while on the ground, having succumbed and fallen from the wiles of a Hurtado shimmy.)
Despite the even score at halftime, New England didn't wait long to strike back. After Teibert fell to the turf in the 60th minute, the Revs continued to press while the 'Caps were seemingly waiting for the referee's whistle. Instead, Teal Bunbury found Rowe at the top of the penalty area, who one-timed a shot past Ousted on the near post (how many times has THAT happened this year?).
(At present time, Rowe's goal is NOT listed on the MLS Highlights page, unlike all other goals from today, so I'm going to round up the Conspiracy Theory Bandwagon to claim that the ref missed a Kobayashi foul on Teibert, and the league doesn't want to draw attention to it! J'accuse!)
In short order, Perez and Bolaños were brought on the pitch, for Mezquida and Cristian Techera, respectively, and quickly cranked up the tempo looking for the tying goal. Hurtado (who unfortunately wasn't rewarded for today's tremendous effort) and Manneh continuously pressured the Revs' backline.
Ultimately, the Whitecaps weren't able to find their equaliser, and fell at home to a New England side that had not yet won on the road this year. Until now. Attention now turns to the Voyageurs Cup at Toronto next Tuesday.