It was a roller coaster of emotions as the Vancouver Whitecaps secured a 2-2 draw with the Columbus Crew thanks to a late winner from Tony Tchani.
The first half chance in the game came in the 6th minute when Kekuta Manneh cut in from the left side and had his low shot stopped by David Ousted. Ousted couldn’t hold the ball but Brek Shea was able to clear.
The Whitecaps looked to be off to the races as they opened the scoring in the 16th minute though Fredy Montero. Cristian Techera and Yordy Reyna interplayed nicely to set up Montero who finished clinically. The commentary team briefly speculated that it was offside but replays showed that the Columbian timed his run to perfection.
The lead was short lived as in the 19th minute Manneh punished his old club, driving in a cross for Ola Kamara who made no mistake.
In the 25th minute Pedro Santos caused some concern with a speculative effort from the half way line, via a counter, but Ousted wasn’t troubled by the strike.
Undaunted, the Whitecaps continued to press the issue, forcing some good defending out of the Crew backline. The interplay between the front four, including a newly energized Brek Shea, caused Columbus a lot of problems. However it wasn’t one way traffic as an acrobatic clearance by Kendall Waston saved what would surely have been a goal for Federico Higuain
In the 30th minute the crew almost took the lead when a long ball was played over the top by Wil Trapp (who spells that name with only one L?) to Kamara but he put his volley just wide of the near post. With quick counter attack Montero won a free kick. Techera stepped up but his effort was just over Zack Steffen’s crossbar.
in the 37th minute Kamara caused more problems, as he won the ball off Waston on the press, but his shot didn’t do much to challenge Ousted.
On the stoke of half time Ousted was called to action again as he made a good save off a volley from Higuain to keep the score even at the half.
At halftime the ‘Caps had 39% possession and only one shot on target but the scores were tied. Classic Whitecaps. As we ruminated on this, wondering if our beloved ‘Caps could possibly maintain their good form despite seemingly being so outplayed every game, we were treated to Brek Shea going salmon fishing. Every preconceived notion we had of Shea was 100% confirmed.
As the second half got under way Columbus gifted the ball to Yordy Reyna who turned and rung his shot off the post.
In the 56th minute Waston received a yellow card. This means he will mix next week’s game against the Colorado Rapids.
In the 60th minute Alphonso Davies (who is only 16) entered the match for Techera.
In the 62nd Minute Manneh picked the ball up in the centre of the field, drove past Ghezal and an out of position Tchani and absolutely smashed the ball past Ousted. Fortunately for the ‘Caps he was subbed out for Justin Meram shortly thereafter.
In the 71st minute Tony Tchani almost equalized but Zack Steffen, who seemed to see the ball late, got down well to push it away. Brek Shea then had a go from distance but his shot went just wide of the post. It was to be Shea’s last contribution as he was the replaced by Bernie Ibini.
The Whitecaps didn’t seem to have much energy. They looked tired and allowed Columbus to pass the ball around with very little pressure being put on them. It looked as if they may have been resigned to defeat. However, in the 81st minute it looked like there might be some fight left in the ‘Caps. Montero crossed to Reyna who rose above his man and headed it off the post. Erik Hurtado (who had just replaced Jordan Harvey) picked up the rebound but couldn’t direct his effort on goal.
In the dying moments of the game Jake Nerwinski hit a speculative ball into the box. Waston let it go to Fredy Montero who put the ball across the goal to Tony Tchani who managed to steer it into the goal to salvage a dramatic point.
Aly Ghezal had a very strong match. In addition to his 3 tackles and 3 interceptions he also had a 92% passing accuracy. In his first match he looked like he was still getting used to his teammates but today he fit in much better. A defensive midfielder who can win the ball and also maintain possession would be huge for the Whitecaps, who have struggled to keep a hold of the ball.
Yordy Reyna also had another good match as he assisted Montero and hit the post twice. Reyna also now has the best Goals per 90 minutes on the team and I for one can’t wait to see what he does with a full season next year.
The team, despite looking down and out, got it together and found a way to tie it. That level of mental strength was in short supply last year.
Davies had a poor match.
The ‘Caps almost got burned for their play style for the first time in a while. Vancouver is one of the biggest over performers in terms of expected goals and expected points. I know that possession isn’t the most important stat, and the only numbers that really matter are the ones on the scoreboard, but you can’t get out passed and outshot and keep winning forever. I know that some of those shots are from long distances and low percentage areas, and forcing teams into taking those shots is clearly part of the plan, but if you look at the numbers they’re just absurd.
In any case the Whitecaps have picked up 7/9 points this week and remain top of the Western Conference with a game in hand on a number of their rivals. It’s hard to complain about that. Or is it? discuss.