We asked for it and someone in the ‘Caps organization must be paying attention because we got it: the Vancouver Whitecaps lined up against the Colorado Rapids in a 4-4-2 formation. But wait, is it Christmas already? Kekuta Manneh started in the striker position alongside Blas Perez, who actually started the game. This put Pedro Morales back on the left wing with Christian Bolaños on the right and Matías Laba and Andrew Jacobson in the defensive midfield. The backline was the familiar set up of Jordan Smith, Kendall Waston, Tim Parker and Jordan Harvey, with David Ousted in goal. Of course, we were all correct in our tactics. The team came out sharp with crisp passes and probing runs, especially from Manneh, and had the bulk of possession for twenty minutes. Waston rewarded the ‘Caps on a corner kick sequence by heading in the game's first goal from a Bolaños cross.
The tide began to turn as Colorado, who proved they are a strong team even without Jermaine Jones on the night, claimed possession of the ball from the ‘Caps and came after them in waves. Shkelzen Gashi made numerous dangerous runs on goal off the left wing, while Kevin Doyle reeked havoc in the centre. Ousted was forced to make three brilliant saves to keep the ‘Caps in the lead. Manneh went down in the 43rd minute and ultimately left the field in a walking boot. In his place was Hurtado, who worked hard but was not as good as Manneh. Dashed were our hopes of Kekuta as a centre forward, but the 4-4-2 remained. Only, other than the set piece goal by Waston, Tim Howard was hardly tested. The first half ended with the ‘Caps winning the game but the Rapids winning the play.
In the second half, Colorado continued bossing the game and were the better team. Doyle evened the score in the 59th minute slotting the ball in the far corner past a charging Ousted. The goal came off a confident display of passing that exemplified Colorado's team play. The ‘Caps were in tough until Rapids defenseman, Eric Miller, was sent off with a red card from a vicious tackle on Morales. With an extra man the ‘Caps and their shiny new 4-4-2 formation went to work on Colorado. Christian Techera was taken down in the box and awarded a penalty kick in the 87th minute. Bolaños stepped up to the penalty spot, but Techera belligerently grabbed the ball and placed himself in position to take the PK. After some discussion Techera was left alone to take the shot. It has been a disappointing season for "the Bug" who has been underwhelming to say the least. It was a gutsy move, for had he missed that shot he would have been vilified... by me... in this paragraph... repeatedly. Thankfully, he scored the goal confidently and the ‘Caps were up a goal and a man.
With the man advantage and only 5 minutes of injury time left the Whitecaps had nothing more to do than see the game out. Perhaps, some intelligent passes to manage the game and a couple forays to the corner flag, but instead the Rapids were able to cross the ball into the box and off of Axel Sjoberg's head in the last play of the game. The game slips out of Vancouver's grasp in the final seconds, again! With only ten men on the Pitch how was Doyle able to get an open cross into the box? And, how was Sjoberg able to go up uncontested to head in the ball for the tying goal?
It wasn't the 4-4-2 that cost Vancouver the win. But it didn't win the game either. Other than two set piece goals and an absolutely scintillating Tim Howard save on a Bolaños point blank volley, did the ‘Caps really put Howard under any pressure?