Well, that wasn’t terrible. That wasn’t terrible at all. After an extremely poor finish to their preseason against Portland, word of a long-term injury to Reyna, the loss of Edgar, and the absence of Bolaños and Mesquida (Whew! A lot of injuries), it seemed we would be lucky to get out of New York with only a 2-0 loss. If you take into account the aforementioned absences, plus Montero as he builds his fitness, those are five players that would have likely been selected at some point in the match. Things were not looking promising from the outset.
Somehow with resilience, luck, and dare I say cohesion, the Whitecaps managed to preserve a draw and score an away goal. Manneh was dangerous in the central forward position and was often on the ball moving forward or receiving balls in the box. His goal was off a header that had him in the right place at the right time. Davies looked dangerous as usual, and when he was muscled off the ball he had the pluck to either get the ball back or get in the face of the ball carrier. The ‘Caps managed four shots on goal and proved that they could create. Their chances often came on the counter, but just as encouraging also out of the back.
The Red Bulls did look dangerous themselves, even though their final ball was not there at the end when they needed it most. Still, the ‘Caps defense was strong and snapped back each time it bent. I was surprised to see Nerwinsky get his debut start over Williams and I thought he played well. I have a hard time holding the PK he drew against him, yes there was contact, but he was coolly going for the ball on the play. And then Ousted made perhaps the play of the game as he left a foot in as he dove right to swipe away a cheeky, Kljestan PK shot down the middle.
Even a bizarre red card on Techera at sixty minutes wasn’t enough to undo the team. Bizarre, not for the card, but… What was Techera doing kicking out at groin level on that play? … Remember, groin level for Techera requires getting his leg up fairly high. While it was an interesting game and not always the beautiful game, the ‘Caps showed up and competed. You could say they were lucky for the draw, but I say they scrapped for that draw and earned it fair and square.
Now it’s advantage Whitecaps as they return home for the second leg next Thursday. Fredy Montero will be a massive upgrade over Hurtado once he finds the pitch and if Bolaños and Mesquida return to the lineup, all the better.