It was Fredy Montero coming off the bench to win it in the 90’ minute over a Dynamo side that now falls to 10-16-4 on the year while staying 11th in the West. Meanwhile, the Whitecaps remain in the bottom spot in the west despite improving to 7-15-9 on the year.
The first half in this one was certainly quiet, while Maxime Crepeau and Erik Godoy both missed out with injuries, Zac MacMath stepped in for his seventh league start of the 2019 campaign while Doneil Henry wore the armband alongside Derek Cornelius in the heart of the defence.
There was an early chance that fell to Tommy McNamara which MacMath comfortably dealt with in the 3rd minute, and outside of that there wasn’t much to say about the first half. The Whitecaps looked more composed in possession and actually even took the game to Houston, through 30 minutes in the first half the ‘Caps had controlled 63% of the possession and looked to be the better side albeit an 11th v. 12th place matchup.
The possession though didn’t yield any results, and in fact, the biggest opportunity in the half came courtesy of Doneil Henry who lunged in, to breakup a through pass from Christian Ramirez as the California native tried to link up with Mauro Manotas. Henry though caught the ball on his laces and sent it straight towards MacMath’s near post and but for a save from the ‘Caps keeper, would have been an OG and the breakthrough for Houston.
This @MauroManotas19 & @Chris_Ramirez17 partnership tho #VANvHOU | #ForeverOrange pic.twitter.com/gUwurTLVV8— Houston Dynamo (@HoustonDynamo) September 15, 2019
That would be it for the first half as the teams went in level at 0-0.
In the second half the Whitecaps were quick to pick up where they left off, and Michaell Chirinos won a free kick just outside the Houston 18 yard box. While the position looked like a tantalising one for Yordy Reyna or Ali Adnan to take on, Reyna put the dead ball straight into the Houston wall.
Through some luck though, Mauro Manotas was adjudged to handle the ball as it came off the wall. From where I sit, it looked like he knocked the ball down with his arm after it bounced off the wall, and by the letter of the law that’s a handball in the area and a penalty. I don’t have the benefit of replays as they don’t show them in stadium, but that’s what I saw and the referee Robert Sibiga came to the same conclusion after about 5 minutes of VAR interruption.
From the spot it was Inbeom Hwang who stepped up, and I’ll be honest – I yelled as loud as I could for him to just put his foot through the damn thing after we’ve seen so many Panenka attempts this year. Almost on cue, the South Korean drilled it into the bottom corner of Joe Willis’ goal and it was 1-0 to the ‘Caps.
GO GET YOURSELF SOME— Vancouver Whitecaps FC (@WhitecapsFC) September 15, 2019
Inbeom jumps into the @Southsiders after burying the PK.#VANvHOU | #VWFC pic.twitter.com/p9dodMivZC
From there it was a question of whether the Whitecaps could hold onto the lead. My self-
deprecating sports fan self couldn’t help but feel that it wasn’t going to be a happy end to the night, especially after that moment in about the 78’ minute when Yordy Reyna and Ali Adnan combined down the left-hand flank. It looked like it could have been offside but there wasn’t a whistle and Reyna laid off a nice ball for Adnan to cut into the box with. Tosaint Ricketts was standing on the penalty spot and for whatever reason, stopped running while Adnan laid off a square ball just inside the 6-yard area.
It was a tap-in. A sitter. It was begging to be stabbed home.
But, it ran out of play for a goalkick.
Adnan was livid, and I can completely understand. I was, too. If you’re going to play as a striker you best be on your toes for anything like that, and that would have been a nice little 2-0 cushion to cruise through the rest of the evening.
Instead though, things went the other way.
As so often happens, if you don’t take your chances, stupid, dumb, bad bounces happen.
From a Maynor Figueroa effort from 30 yards out, that was dipping wide of the goal, a diving Zac MacMath only parried the ball back into the middle of the box where Manotas was all too eager to pounce. He jumped on the rebound and poked it into the open net to make it 1-1 with just 10 minutes to go.
It was such an ugly goal at first the Dynamo twitter didn’t even post it. Then they did, so it’s here:
What a hit from @Maynorf31 and @MauroManotas19 is on the spot to finish! #VANvHOU | #ForeverOrange pic.twitter.com/ciPMURiiEz— Houston Dynamo (@HoustonDynamo) September 15, 2019
With the last substitution, and Marc Dos Santos brought on Fredy Montero in the 82’ minute. The Colombian looked very lively in his time, seemingly determined to make a mark on the evening.
There was some positive early combination play with Theo Bair that didn’t quite find the final pass, and there were also some maddening moments as the ‘Caps pushed for the winner – for example, Yordy going for goal from the corner kick instead of trying to put a ball on the head of the 6’4” Bair who was as usual, the largest man in the box.
But, with the game winding down, in the 90’ minute – Montero found a way through, courtesy a lovely flicked on pass from the aforementioned Bair, and a lovely weak footed cross from Ali Adnan. The Iraqi full back made the difference, once again linking up with Reyna down the left. Adnan quickly pulled the ball across the box to Bair who took two touches to chip the ball over both Figueroa and Jose Bizama to find Montero.
From there Fredy hammered it low between the legs of Willis to break the deadlock and send the ‘Caps fans home happy. It was a poachers goal, and the type that we’ve seen from Fredy in past, so it was a nice reminder of what he’s capable of even if it has been missing for large parts of 2019.
MONTERO AT THE DEATH!#VANvHOU | #VWFC pic.twitter.com/639ItkqJ5d— Vancouver Whitecaps FC (@WhitecapsFC) September 15, 2019
At the end though, it wasn’t completely smooth sailing, and sure it was 11th v. 12th place, but another home win and some positives to go with it. I’ll take it.