The Vancouver Whitecaps welcomed Altanta United FC into BC Place for the first time with a powerful 3-1 win. Kendall Waston was the star of the show with a goal from the box and a goal and assist off corner kicks, and Fredy Montero returned to his scoring ways to put an exciting end-to-end game away.
Atlanta showed early that they would not be your typical MLS expansion opponent. Stocked with young and talented players like, Almíron, Carmona, and Villalba, together with successful veterans like, Parkhurst and Kenwyne Jones, and coached by former Argentina manager Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino, Atlanta is already a force to be reckoned with. After an opening 6 minutes, where the ‘Caps were wasteful in possession, Gressel put a cross along the ground and across the face of goal for Greg Garza to tap in for the early lead.
The Whitecaps continued unfazed with their game plan and were rewarded with Waston’s first goal to level the score line. He showed remarkable skill and composure in the box as he took the ball from foot to chest to foot to create some space for a one-hop strike to beat Alec Kann.
Waston rose above everyone else for his second goal at the 44’ mark off a Techera corner kick. Fans have wondered why the 6’5” CB hasn’t scored more set piece goals, as these two goals are his first of the season. After the game, Waston would reveal the team had been practicing set pieces all week and his set piece work on the day was not done yet.
The ‘Caps would go into halftime with a 2-1 lead, but not before Atlanta would get a taste of the big fat crossbar at BC Place in extra time. Anyone at last weekend’s loss to D.C United understands the devastation it can wreak, all though their wouldn’t be any tears shed by them today.
The game resumed with Atlanta controlling much of the possession, while the ‘Caps generated chance after chance on the counter attack. In fact, VWFC had only 33% of the possession in the game while taking 17 shots on goal to Atlanta’s 7. Here, Bolaños has a shot thwarted by a good save as the game opened up in the second half.
In the 68’ minute, Waston was back at it on a corner kick set piece, as he headed the incoming cross back across goal for Parker to put it on goal. Kann managed to scoop the ball away, but possibly not before it crossed the line. It is hard to say without goal line technology if the ‘Caps were denied what should have been a goal, but Montero immediately pounced on the rebound and smashed the ball into the roof of the net.
Coach Robinson started his familiar starting 11 with Laba’s return from suspension. It was the sixth time he has fielded the same starters this season, which has to feel delightfully strange for him, as he has only been able to start the same 11 a handful of times during his tenure here. Ousted started in goal, with Williams, Waston, Parker and Harvey on defense, Laba as lone DM, Techera, Tchani, Jacobson and Bolaños as forwards and Fredy Montero up top in the striker position.
The one concern on the night is the announced attendance of 19,816. On a Saturday afternoon this attendance number continues to contribute to the team’s dip in attendance for the 2017 season.
This was Kendall Waston’s afternoon as he made his significant presence felt at both ends of the pitch. That is just what his national team wants to hear, as Kendall joins Costa Rica this week for two important World Cup qualifiers.