The Vancouver Whitecaps capitalized on two poor decisions on Saturday night en route to a 2-1 defeat of the visiting Columbus Crew. The Crew, playing their second straight game on the west coast, showed flashes of potential but ultimately could not overcome these mistakes.
Vancouver jumped out to a lead in the sixth minute when Daigo Kobayashi scored from long range. The chance was a gift after Darren Mattocks pounced on a weak pass in midfield from Danny O'Rourke. Mattocks fed the ball to Kobayashi in the center of the field, who took full advantage of a pocket of space to blast an arcing ball over Gruenebaum from more than 30 yards.
The Crew recovered from that early setback, putting the Vancouver back line under consistent if not overwhelming pressure over the following several minutes. Including some opportunities that came against the run of play in the opening five minutes, Columbus had a number of chances from the initiative of Federico Higuain, Jairo Arrieta, Ben Speas and Dominic Oduro.
While some poor decisions put Columbus in an early hole, some poor executions prevented them from being buried. Nigel Rio-Coker has one notable opportunity in the 39th minute when the ball fell to his feet at the back post with an open net before him. Incredibly, he blasted his shot over the bar to leave the Crew at only a one-goal deficit.
Four minutes later defender Brad Rusin saw his headed shot carom off the goalpost, sending the teams into the break with one a single goal between them.
Speas, a second year midfielder and product of the Crew's youth academy, was handed a starting role after Eddie Gaven suffered an injury earlier in the day. Although nominally a left winger he frequently tucked inside to good effect, making sound decisions and combining well with Higuain, Arrieta and the overlapping Tyson Wahl.
It was just this combination that produced the Crew's equalizer in the second half. Less than a minute after kickoff Speas received a pass from the right flank and turned to goal, threading a delicate pass through the defense. Arrieta timed his run perfectly, curling onto the ball and blasting a shot to the near post that caught goalkeeper Joe Cannon leaning the wrong way.
The parity did not last, however. In the 57th minute Vancouver regained their edge as Kenny Miller finally scored after missing a number of earlier opportunities.
Similar to the first goal, the eventual game-winner was the result of poor communication and worse execution. Andy Gruenebaum passed up field to Andy Glauber with the Whitecaps pressing everywhere on the field, and Glauber trapped the ball uncharacteristically badly. As the ball trickled away, Kenny Miller pounced and blew past both Glauber and the recovering Chad Marshall before slamming his shot home.
Vancouver nearly scored an insurance goal late on, but their success in breaking through the Crew back line was tempered as one of a pair of delicate passes was just slightly mis-timed for the runs of Kenny Miller and Erik Hurtado.
What it means
Columbus falls to a 1-1 record, with three points, heading into their home opener next Saturday. Vancouver improves to 2-0 through their first two home games. They are idle next weekend before travelling to Houston on March 23rd.
6' 0-1 Daigo Kobayashi (Darren Mattocks)
12' Corner kick, Columbus (right side, headed off target by Wahl)
19' Caution, Glauber (obstruction on Kenny Miller)
28' Corner kick, Columbus (left side, too short and cleared)
35' Corner kick, Columbus (right, headed over the bar by Williams)
43' Corner kick, Vancouver (right, headed shot from Rusin caroms off the left post)
46' 1-1 Jairo Arrieta (Ben Speas)
57' 2-1 Kenny Miller (unassisted)
67' Camilo Sanvezzo replaces Darren Mattocks
68' Corner kick, Columbus (left, grabbed by Joe Cannon)
71' Tony Tchani replaces Agustin Viana
71' Matias Sanchez replaces Danny O'Rourke
73' Corner kick, Vancouver (right, headed too high and cleared by Columbus)
75' Corner kick, Columbus (left, taken short with the second ball blocked)
77' Erik Hurtado replaces Daigo Kobayashi
88' Caution, Jairo Arrieta (unsportsmanlike conduct, kicking ball at Y.P. Lee)
89' Ryan Finley replaces Glauber
93+' Caution, Matias Sanchez (professional foul on Erik Hurtado)
Andy Gruenebaum, Josh Williams, Chad Marshall, Glauber (Ryan Finley 89'), Tyson Wahl, Danny O'Rourke (Matias Sanchez 71'), Agustin Viana (Tony Tchani 71'), Dominic Oduro, Ben Speas, Federico Higuain, Jairo Arrieta
Matt Lampson, Drew Beckie, Justin Meram, Ethan Finlay
Joe Cannon, Lee Young-Pyo, Brad Rusin, Alain Rochat, Andy O'Brien, Nigel Rio-Coker, Gershon Koffie, Daigo Kobayashi (Erik Hurtado 77'), Jun Marques Davidson, Kenny Miller, Darren Mattocks (Camilo Sanvezzo 67')
Brad Knighton, Russell Teibert, Corey Hertzog, Jordan Harvey, Kekuta Manneh