On a day that would be the last time that Wayne Rooney visit Vancouver as a player in MLS, the Vancouver Whitecaps overcame D.C. United to win their first game at BC Place since May 25.
Marc Dos Santos fielded the same team that lost last time out in Portland, while opting to only change the players on the bench as Victor Giro came into the eighteen for Brett Levis and Tosaint Ricketts made the bench ahead of Michael Baldisimo.
On the other side of the ball, Felipe made his return to Vancouver starting in his second game since moving to DC earlier this month.
Having beaten LA Galaxy last time out and sitting fourth in the Eastern Conference heading into the match, DC were certainly on better form than the hosts, and it certainly showed as they bossed the possession throughout the match with 64.4% of the ball to the Whitecaps’ 35.6%.
Just two minutes into this one, Wayne Rooney controlled a poor clearance from Godoy and immediately played through Paul Arriola who fired first time at the near post and forced Maxime Crepeau into an early save.
The start was certainly rocky, and there was a definite unease in the crowd as if this was just the first sign of what was to come in this match.
The plus side though had to have been the response from the Whitecaps. While they were still sitting deep, on the counter with the pace of Theo Bair and Yordy Reyna, they did manage to combine well in a couple of slick moves that just fell apart as the attack looked for the final ball.
In the 17’ minute the breakthrough came as Russell Teibert slipped past his former teammate Felipe in midfield and laid the ball off to Reyna just outside the top of the area. Always willing to have a pop, the Peruvian took two touches to square the ball for himself before firing a low shot that bounced into the bottom corner of Bill Hamid’s goal to make it 1-0 to the home side.
While the hosts were in front, DC looked for an immediate response with Rooney once again playing provider and showing off his range of passing. While coming back toward the halfway line, Rooney managed to weight a perfect pass through for Ulises Segura who was fighting to hold off Ali Adnan as he latched onto the pass and broke through on goal. Once again though, as has been the case so many times this season, Crepeau found a way to keep the ball out – saving Segura’s low effort with his foot to preserve the host’s lead.
DC kept piling the pressure on in the first half, and I’d be quick to point out that Derek Cornelius had himself a fine game in the heart of defense. At just the halfway stage, Cornelius had made 5 clearances and a block compared to just two throughout the entire 90 minutes for his defensive partner to start the game, Erik Godoy. Doneil Henry came in early in the second half to replace Jake Nerwinski who was allowing too much space to Lucas Rodriguez for my liking, which shifted Godoy out wide to right back.
Cornelius though went on to finish with 9 clearances, 2 blocks and a recovery to his name while completing 27 of 29 passes including 1 key pass and a headed effort from a Montero corner that wasn’t just on goal, but one that everyone in the stadium including Derek himself, thought he was going to bury.
In that period of the second half, just around the hour mark, the Whitecaps really looked like they were going to stretch their lead. It was just after that headed effort the Cornelius picked up a loose ball and immediately played Reyna into space. With no one close to him in the middle of the park and striding towards the DC penalty area, Reyna unleashed a shot that easily beat Hamid only to hammer off the underside of the crossbar and back out.
As the match wore on DC continued to attempt shots, but not one of their efforts in the second half found the target as equally 5 shots flew wide and the other 5 were closed down by Whitecaps defenders. It was a committed display to keep the clean sheet at the end, and while it’s been a long time, this was definitely a positive step for the Whitecaps.
The frustration of the match seemed to get to Wayne Rooney, who was substituted for Ola Kamara on 74’ minutes. As he made his way off, the soon to be former DC United player, absolutely lambasted the fourth official once he reached the sideline. Clearly the night didn’t go the way the former England captain had hoped.
There was also room for a 10 minute cameo (which turned into nearly a 20 minute cameo thanks to 7 minutes of added time) for ‘Caps new boy Tosaint Ricketts. The former TFC forward showed off his pace and looked like a real dynamic outlet down the opposite flank to Theo Bair. As we’ve already been told, we can expect Ricketts to play ‘a lot’ for the remainder of the season, and his pace could certainly be a useful tool to a Whitecaps attack that has so frequently failed to bear fruit.
At the end of the day though, it’s been odd to leave BC Place with all 3 points, and it’s been so long that I’ve almost forgotten what it feels like. This is good right?
The ‘Caps will take on San Jose next Saturday as they travel to the Avaya Stadium. As for us, Samuel Rowan will have more reaction From the Locker Room following this evening’s home win.