Match report and full post game reaction from both dressing rooms after Vancouver Whitecaps' 3-3 draw at Philadelphia Union.
It you want excitement and goals then Vancouver Whitecaps' matches appear to be the ones to watch this season. There was another goalfest as the Whitecaps' somehow turned a win into a loss into a draw that felt like a defeat at Philadelphia's PPL Park on Saturday evening.
Vancouver roared into a 2-0 lead at the half as Erik Hurtado made it five straight games with a goal and Nicolas Mezquida added a second just before the break. Philly hit back in style with three goals in an eight minute spell to give them the lead before a Pedro Morales penalty with nine minutes remaining salvaged a valuable away point for Vancouver and extended their unbeaten streak to a club record setting seven MLS games.
The Whitecaps may have come in to the game on a good run, but that didn't stop Carl Robinson ringing the changes and he made three from the team that won in Portland on Sunday, with Russell Teibert and Nicolas Mezquida coming in to the midfield and Johnny Leveron surprisingly replacing Andy O'Brien in the middle of the Caps' defence.
Philadelphia had the better of the opening exchanges with Conor Casey coming closest when he headed a long throw in over in the 11th minute.
Vancouver hadn't really been in the match as much of an attacking threat but they opened the scoring in the 18th minute and it was the in-form Erik Hurtado who once again did the damage.
Teibert broke through the middle and played the ball out right to Nigel Reo-Coker. The Englishman sent in a perfect ball into the box and Hurtado got himself into acres of space and past the last two Union defenders to firmly head home and make it 1-0 to the visitors.
The Union went back to controlling possession and Casey came close again with another header at the midway point of the half approached and flashed his effort wide left.
It was a move that saw Whitecaps captain Jay DeMerit hit the deck and go off injured with what initial reports are saying is another Achilles injury.
Pedro Morales had a great chance to double Vancouver's lead in the 32nd minute when Hurtado crossed into the middle but Zac MacMath was out quickly to smother the attempted chip over the keeper.
Philly tried to get something going before the break but it was Vancouver who found the net again with three minutes of the half remaining and it was a wonderful team goal that doubled their lead.
Mezquida started and finished the move, taking the ball quickly out of the Caps box from a Union attack and ending the three man breakaway by finishing Hurtado's cutback with aplomb.
Philadelphia made the running at the start of the second half as you would expect and Maurice Edu crashed a shot off the left post five minutes in.
Despite the home side's pressure, Vancouver were looking very comfortable and happy to sit a little deeper and look to hit again on the counter.
Casey had looked dangerous with his head throughout the match and he finally got his reward, and dragged the Union back into the game, with a low header in at the near post off a Cristian Maidana cross in the 63rd minute.
Five minutes later and it was all square and it was former Whitecaps Sebastian Le Toux who tied it all up.
Le Toux had just come on as a sub and added immediate impetus to the Philadelphia attack with the goal coming from a quick break upfield that had the Caps defence all at sea.
The Union kept the pressure on and took what had looked like an unexpected lead in the 71st minute when Casey fired into the bottom right corner from 20 yards out.
Vancouver's defence had imploded and they nearly let in a fourth in the 77th minute when Philly had two great chances, the first of which brought a point blank save out of David Ousted from a Raymon Gaddis strike with Leveron then clearing Casey's shot from the rebound off the line.
The Caps looked to have blown it big time but got themselves back into the game again from nowhere in the 80th minute when substitute Darren Mattocks streaked into the box and Philly keeper MacMath sent him crashing to the deck with a clumsy challenge.
Pedro Morales stepped up to make it three penalties in two games for the Chilean and the game was amazingly tied at 3-3.
Philadelphia had a couple of chances to grab the full three points in the closing minutes but couldn't find another way past Ousted and somehow Vancouver came away from the game with just a single point.
It was definitely a missed opportunity for Vancouver but at the same time, Philadelphia wasted a number of good chances throughout the match and will also be disappointed not to come away with a win.
The Whitecaps now enter the World Cup break with a lot to work on in the defensive side of their game. As exciting as they are in attack, that counts for little if they ship three goals in games.
FINAL SCORE: Philadelphia Union 3 - 3 Vancouver Whitecaps
PHILADELPHIA: Zac MacMath, Raymon Gaddis, Sheanon Williams, Amobi Okugo, Fabinho, Maurice Edu, Vincent Nogueira, Cristian Maidana (Leo Fernandes 88), Zach Pfeffer (Michael Lahoud 46), Conor Casey, Daniel Cruz (Sebastien Le Toux 66) [subs Not Used: Andre Blake, Ethan White, Brian Carroll, Andrew Wenger]
VANCOUVER: David Ousted; Nigel Reo-Coker, Jay DeMerit (Andy O'Brien 23), Johnny Leveron, Jordan Harvey; Matias Laba (Darren Mattocks 74), Gershon Koffie, Russell Teibert, Pedro Morales, Nicolas Mezquida (Sebastian Fernandez 66); Erik Hurtado [subs Not Used: Paolo Tornaghi, Mehdi Ballouchy, Kekuta Manneh, Omar Salgado]
Head Coach Carl Robinson
On Jay DeMerit’s status
“I think it’s a tendon, his tendon is very sore on the Achilles that he hurt last year, so I’m not to hopeful. I obviously wanted it to be a lot better than he said that he thinks it feels like, so at the moment no, but obviously the moment I know I’ll let you know, he’s walking past on crutches now so that might tell you something.”
On the tale of two halves
“We took our chances in the first half I was under no illusions, Philadelphia is a very good team they get balls in the box, Conor is a handful he gets his head on the end of things. The two goals we scored in first half were excellent football and something that I’m trying to instill within the club. Second half I think we went away from what we were doing very well in the first half, I’ll review it and analyze it but I think we looked a little bit dead on our feet after about an hour and if you give Philadelphia who are a very good team a little bit of momentum in front of their supporters it’s difficult. They got back into the game and then obviously went 3-2 up but again credit to my team to come back.”
On if he’s disappointed with the change in style
“Yeah totally, not making excuses, you’ll find in me that I never make excuses but travel didn’t help, the weather didn’t help Russell Teibert who is the fittest player on our team was gassed after an hour then that’s a fact.”
On if he’s happy on his team’s position at this point in the year
“I am delighted because obviously again you know we picked up a point away from home. I’m disappointed for the guys because they put in a fantastic effort here today but I think it shows that the club is moving in the right direction that we come away from home, score three goals and we pick up a point. It’s difficult to play away from home in any venue, we are moving in the right direction but we still got a lot of work to do but I’m trying slowly to make a style of play for this team and it’s not going to happen overnight , we’ll continue to work.”
On coming back from 3-2 down
“It’s the courage of our team knowing that we’re never going to give up. We’re always going to try and score goals and when we went down 3 to 2 it didn’t matter because if we’re home or away we’re going to try and score goals. We were fortunate to get that point on the road.”
On the depth of the team
“The depth of our team is amazing, we have great character on the team, anyone can come off the bench, anyone that can start, anyone that can be in the game and they’re going to make a difference on the field.”
On his feeling about the team going into the World Cup break
“We do feel happy, obviously we’re disappointed that we got only a point on the road but that just shows the character of our team, we want to win away just as much as we want to win at home. We’re going to look at that and not going to take a physical break just a little mental break so we’re going to come back fit and ready to go.”
On the team’s commitment to style and creativity
“That’s just how we are as players, we have a lot of players that want to get forward and score goals, create opportunities. We also have players that want to possess and think that showed a little bit when we were ahead, we were trying to maintain and control the game and I think we did pretty well for a bit.”
On if the game was positive or negative
“It was a good point away from home, that’s what it’s going to take that game had everything in it. We were fantastic in the first half, great football, but in the second half they were the better team. We defended well to a certain point and to go 3-2 down away from home and get that goal to come back 3-3, it’s a good result. We’re disappointed in the way we conceded goals tonight but overall we have to say it’s a point away from home.”
On how the Union took them out of their game
“I think we stopped doing what we were doing in the first half, we needed to be braver on the ball and have more confidence in ourselves. We tried to make more of an effort in the second half but we didn’t do that.”
On his feeling going into the break
“We get a week off to relax, a bit of mental relaxation then come back fresh and ready for a busy schedule.”
On where there style of play comes from
“I think it’s something Carl has instilled in us since he’s taken over and it’s growing stronger with every week that goes by. We’ve played some great football, shown some great strength of character especially to come back from games you know we’ve done it quite a few times this season. To continue to do that and do it away from home it’s a lot of credit that has to go to the management, and also the players. I think in the second half today we let ourselves down because we just didn’t believe enough and stick to our principles.”
On if he’s happy with where they are in table
“We’re not really concerned with the table we’re just taking it one game at a time, so far we’ve done well, we’ve set our standards, we know what we’re doing these past couple of weeks and have to stick to what we’ve been doing. We’ve got time now to mentally relax, get our minds away from football and come back fresh and ready to go for a busy schedule ahead.”
Team Manager John Hackworth
On whether it’s disappointing to not come away with the win tonight
“Yeah, definitely disappointing. But it was a bit of a strange game that we were down 2-0 in the first half, and I really felt like for much of that first half we played pretty well. But our inability to keep our opponent out of our half, that is pretty troubling, and we did it again at 3-2. It’s frustrating that we didn’t get three points in a game, but at the same time there was a lot of character shown on our field by our team to come back and put that kind of energy in. Vancouver was putting all of their players back and playing for that 2-0 victory, and we broke them down again and again. I thought it should have been 4-2, to be fair. A couple chances and it would have been different.”
On Cristian Maidana’s improvement over the last few games
“Yeah, we’re just trying to push Cristian in the right ways and be a complete player in this league. I said it earlier that I think there’s an adjustment period for our guys and he was hurting earlier in the year and he’s come along. I wouldn’t say I was happy with his first half, but I was very pleased with his second half. Getting three assists in that fashion was an excellent performance by him.
On how he’s feeling about the club right now
“I feel like we’re, all year long, we’re a team that can play at such a high level and tend to let ourselves down in moments because to go down 2-0 at home, unacceptable. But to come back and score three straight goals, fantastic. And to give up a goal again, it’s a rollercoaster of emotion and it’s not one you really want to have, to be fair. I feel like we’ve let points slip away, you know, all year. I wouldn’t say tonight we did that. It was brave of us to come back, and it showed character, but at the same time, we had that game in our grasp, but we didn’t finish it out.”
On what they were looking to exploit from Vancouver tonight
“we thought we would be able to get Conor Casey some good service. And don’t know whether this is a correct stat at halftime, but one of the coaches told me that we had something like 20-something crosses. We thought we could exploit them that way. Jay DeMerit going down, I think, was a loss for them. But I liked their backline too; they’re kind of like us. For whatever reason, they’re just giving up goals.”
On what he’s seen from Conor Casey lately
“I would tell you that we’ve had a lot of tough conversations, Connor and I. Very honest ones. Whenever I have challenged him, he’s taken that to heart and he’s come out and he’s done everything that we could have asked and for the last two games, I’m really for him because I think so many people were feeling like, hey, he’s at the end of his career and maybe he’s not as good as he was, but with the last two games, he’s shown that he still has a lot of goals still left in him. I’m really happy for the fact that he played a full ninety tonight and went as hard as he did. I felt that he was one of the hardest working players in the first half and the second half for us. He did a lot of work despite scoring those goals.”
Thoughts on tonight’s game
“In the first half we created some good chances, but we weren’t able to put them away. We were getting a lot of balls in the box, which is great. Unfortunately, they scored on both their only chances. We knew were going to be able to create chances. We came out in the second half and really pushed the game. We did a great job of fighting back in it. To let the lead slip in the end is definitely frustrating given how the season’s gone, but I think it was a great reaction from our team to get back in the game.”
On making a run in the second half of the season
“I know the guys we have in our locker room. I know that things haven’t gone well this year, but we’ve had some games that we’ve played really well. There’s been games that we’ve played really bad. Today, first half wasn’t good, but second half was really good. Everyone still bleeds. We have a lot of time left. Although we didn’t win today, it’s been two games now that we’ve gotten really good results. Vancouver’s a good team. We get a little break now and we come back and attack the second half of the season.”
Thoughts on the past two weeks personally
“It’s been nice. I’ve been able to play and get minutes and that’s always what you want. As a player you always want to be on the field. I’m happy I was given a chance and help the team out with those goals.”
On chemistry with Maidana
“He’s got a great eye and gives a good ball. He’s found me time and time again. He found me a couple times today and sometimes I couldn’t put them away, but he kept looking and I was able to in the second half.”
Thoughts on the call in the box and penalty shot
“I decided to stay in the box. Fabinho took a little bit of a bad touch and I think he actually steps on my fore arm and falls down. Obviously, the referee anytime he sees contact with the goalkeeper in the forward he’s going to give a PK.”
Thoughts on the penalty kick
“Yeah, I had a good read on it and knew which way he was going, but unfortunately it took a weird bounce right in front of my arm.”
On the ups and downs this season
“After the first two goals we fought back really hard. The team was playing some if it’s best soccer of the year and really unfortunate to give away two points.”
On assessing where team is entering the World Cup break
“We obviously don’t want to be on the bottom of the table but we can take this break physically and mentally to get away a little bit and hopefully come back stronger and gain more points.”
On guessing right on the PK, but still missing it
“It’s very frustrating. Like I said, I had a good read on it. For it to take a weird bounce, a kind of lucky bounce, it sucks.”