By Steve Pandher
The Whitecaps ended the first half of the season with a gritty 1-0 win in Colorado as they were able to survive the heat, altitude and the consistent pressure from their opponents. The goal by Darren Mattocks came late in the first half when the rookie was able to take advantage of a mistake by the Colorado defenders. It was also a match that saw the debut of designated player Barry Robson who put in a solid performance through about sixty minutes of play.
It didn’t take long for Barry Robson to get involved in the match as he took a pass from Mattocks and unleashed a shot from distance that just sailed over the bar. Moments later a cross from sideline into Cannon’s box was just missed by Jaime Castrillon going wide of the net.
The Rapids failed to capitalize after Rivero dispossessed Robson and started a counterattack that ended with Casey firing his heavy shot wide of the far post. Another turnover by the Caps led to another attempt by Casey but luckily for the visitors Martin Bonjour was able to get in the way and block the ball into touch.
A couple of stops by Cannon in a couple of minutes as Casey once again had an attempt on goal which the keeper spilled for a corner. Then off the corner Larentowicz had a free header after escaping his mark but the keeper was able to catch the ball on the line.
The pace and pressure continued to be pressed by the home team as a cross into the six yard box would have reached a streaking Cummings if it were not for a diving Jordan Harvey. Cannon made another stop when he was able to handle a long shot from Pearce which took a funny bounce on the way to the net. Casey had his best opportunity with about five minutes to go as the ball came to him but Bonjour was able to knock the big striker off stride which did not allow him to get him a full strike on the ball.
Then against the run of play with a couple of minutes left in the first half the Whitecaps were able to strike first and take the lead. After Harvey had picked up a pass on the left side, he moved in and sent in a cross that missed by Wynne and Moor but fell to Darren Mattocks who made no mistake with his finish beating Perkins for the first goal.
Joe Cannon came up big just before the half as he once again stopped Casey on the doorstep as he was able to get a header on net from in close. The save preserved the unexpected lead for the Whitecaps as they went into the break with a 1-0 lead.
The Rapids looked to even up the score soon after the restart off a counterattack as the Caps were caught out of position but the shot attempted by Brian Mullan didn’t trouble Cannon. The Whitecaps were able to tighten up defensively as the Rapids next chance came almost fifteen minutes later when Cummings tried to get the ball around Bonjour but was unable to with DeMerit helping out his teammate to clear the ball.
After the Whitecaps were able to clear a Rivero free kick, second half sub Jaime Smith had his shot from distance heading for goal if it were not for Bonjour stepping in again to block the shot. Edu came very close to connecting on another curling Rivero free kick but the Brazilian’s head just missed ball.
The Caps almost doubled their lead off a Camilo free kick as it fell into the box but there were no attackers to take advantage. It wasn’t until the 82nd minute when the Rapids got their second chance on target as Cascio took a shot from a tight angle that Cannon was able to stop.
With only a couple of minutes left in the ninety the Rapids were able to get a cross in that Cannon was just able to get enough of to force Casey’s header wide of the net. Another cross during injury time put the Caps in danger but YP Lee was able to climb and knock the ball into touch. It was Colorado’s last chance to find the equalizer as the Caps held on for the tight 1-0 win and the three points.
It was a solid bounce back game for the Caps after their dismal showing against the Galaxy in their last match. The Rapids had numerous chances in the first half, not able to finish, but the Whitecaps were able to limit their opponent’s quality chances in the second by keeping a tight defensive shape. They also did a better job defending crosses in open play and set pieces.
With so many central midfielders missing due to injury and suspension Alain Rochat came up big in his new role partnering with Koffie. Another player who helped on the defensive side was Darren Mattocks who was able to limit the effectiveness of Jeff Larentowicz with his marking throughout the game.
The victory leapfrogs the Caps over the Sounders into third place in the Western Conference table as the club has already surpassed the point total of last season at the midway mark. The Whitecaps will continue their five game road trip in California as they will make their second trip of the year to face Chivas USA on Saturday.
FINAL SCORE: Colorado Rapids 0 – 1 Vancouver Whitecaps
GOAL: Darren Mattocks 43′
CAUTIONS: Alain Rochat(Yellow) 41′, Darren Mattocks(Yellow) 93′
COLORADO: Matt Pickens; Hunter Freeman (Edu 72′), Marvell Wynne, Drew Moor, Luis Zapata; Jeff Larentowicz, Jaime Castrillon (Jamie Smith 63′), Martin Rivero, Brian Mullan; Omar Cummings (Tony Cascio 61′), Conor Casey
Subs Not Used: Steward Ceus, Tyrone Marshall, Joseph Nane, Wells Thompson
VANCOUVER: Joe Cannon; Young-Pyo Lee, Martin Bonjour, Jay DeMerit, Jordan Harvey; Alain Rochat, Gershon Koffie; Barry Robson (Sebastien Le Toux 56′), Darren Mattocks, Davide Chiumiento (Michael Nanchoff 85′); Eric Hassli(Camilo Sanvezzo 72′)
Subs Not Used: Brad Knighton, Greg Klazura, Carlyle Mitchell, Russell Teibert