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  1. REPORT: With two games in five days against Seattle, competition priority was a hot topic in Vancouver this past week. In the first match of a busy eight game August, 'Caps coach Carl Robinson put out the strongest line-up available to him for the MLS encounter at the Sounders. And it worked a treat. A two goal burst from veteran center back Pa Modou Kah at the start of each half had Vancouver looking comfortable. Pedro Morales' late free kick stunner had them ecstatic. Vancouver looked in an attacking mood from the off and took the game to their fierce Cascadian rivals. And they got the reward for their endeavours early. The 'Caps won a free kick to the right side of the box six minutes in. Nicolas Mezquida floated the kick in and it was met by the head of Kendall Waston but his effort was straight at Brad Evans' chest. The rebound bounced off the Sounders defender straight into the path of Kah, who showed remarkable composure and skill to volley home the opening goal. The Whitecaps kept pressing and the Uruguayan trio of Mezquida, Cristian Techera and Octavio Rivero were linking up superbly. Rivero had a couple of half chances, then Mezquida forced a save from Stefan Frei as the 'Caps went for the killer second, but it wasn't to come. Seattle had a couple of what couldn't even really be called half chances, and David Ousted was having a quiet night. The 'Caps nearly got that second with six minutes of the half remaining when Rivero played a neat touch outside to the overlapping Jordan Harvey but the left-back's fierce shot rattled of the stanchion from a tight angle. Vancouver survived a penalty shout on a handball on Kah and a subsequent goalmouth scramble that saw Ousted produce a fine point blank stop and the 'Caps went in at the half with a one goal lead. If there were fears that Seattle might regroup and come out looking a different team, then Vancouver extinguished them quickly and added a second four minutes into the second half, and it was that man Kah again! The 'Caps won a corner on the left and Techera played it short to Kekuta Manneh, who had all the time in the world to give it back to the Uruguayan who hit a low first timer into the box and Kah deftly backheeled it into the net. It was some goal and gave Vancouver a little bit of breathing space. Mezquida nearly added a third when his free kick crashed of the left post on the hour mark and Laba nearly got in on the act minutes later when his fierce rising long range drive was just held by Frei. Seattle pushed to try and get something going but they fell three behind in the 75th minute when substitute Pedro Morales curled a beautiful free kick through the wall and past Frei from 20 yards out. The Sounders had a couple of chances for a consolation but nothing too threatening, with Lamar Neagle's deflected shot that landed on the roof of the net, the closest they came. It was a great win for the 'Caps. One of their best in MLS. We've been here before though. It counts for nothing if they can't keep it going. The way the team is playing though, you feel that this time could be different. FINAL SCORE: Seattle Sounders 0 - 3 Vancouver Whitecaps ATT: 53,125 SEATTLE: Stefan Frei; Tyrone Mears, Brad Evans, Chad Marshall, Dylan Remick; Erik Friberg, Gonzalo Pineda (Cristian Roldan 60), Osvaldo Alonso, Thomas (Andy Rose 76); Clint Dempsey, Chad Barrett (Lamar Neagle 63) [subs Not Used: Troy Perkins, Oneil Fisher, Darwin Jones, Zach Scott] VANCOUVER: David Ousted; Steven Beitashour, Kendall Waston, Pa Modou Kah, Jordan Harvey; Matias Laba, Gershon Koffie, Cristian Techera (Russell Teibert 85), Nicolas Mezquida (Pedro Morales 72), Kekuta Manneh (Darren Mattocks 79); Octavio Rivero [subs Not Used: Paolo Tornaghi, Tim Parker, Deybi Flores, Erik Hurtado] REACTION: VANCOUVER WHITECAPS CARL ROBINSON On the match: "It was a really positive and strong performance by the guys tonight and I’m absolutely delighted for all the guys because they put a huge amount of work in, which is what you need to do when you play Seattle away. And you get your rewards and we got our rewards tonight so we’ll enjoy it. The performance was absolutely fantastic and every single one of my players tonight carried out the instructions I asked them to do because we need to be organized and disciplined to play against a very good team. They did it to a tee so I’m delighted about that." On starting the upcoming stretch against Seattle in this way: “Yeah, but they beat us in our backyard, which was a tough one to take even though we played very well. We played very well today and won the game so we’ll enjoy it, but get back to work on Monday because we’ve got another huge game against Seattle on Wednesday. We need to try and get as many fans out as we can – Vancouverites – to put them under pressure because this is a hostile place. It’s tough to play.” On taking the initiative in the counterattack in the first 10 minutes: “It was a little bit the personnel that I have. We were very young in the front six players – I think the oldest player we have is 23 years of age. We just thought the enthusiasm of the young players – we’ve got a young squad – and the energy they can bring to the table would go out and surprise them a little bit. And that’s exactly what happened – we played some of the best football of the season in the first half.” On playing a down Seattle team: “We got the result today. They’re a top team, without a doubt, but going through a tricky patch at the moment. Every team goes through tough patches. You just look across the league – last year as an example with New England. They didn’t win nine or 10 games then managed to get to MLS Cup Final. Without a doubt, [seattle] is a good team.” On the unlikely heroes tonight: “Yeah, it’s a team effort. As I say, there’s no ‘I’ in team – that’s a big slogan in our dressing room and I make sure the boys know it. It’s not about any individual – it’s about the team. I think spreading the goals is nice, but when our strikers catch fire, we’ll be okay.” On Pa-Modou Kah’s finishes: “He says he [has good finishes], but he talks a lot. I haven’t seen them, but I’m delighted for him because he’s been brilliant since he joined the club at the start of the year. He got a little bit of criticism early on – unfairly criticized because he’s so important to me. From a young manager’s point of view, you need your senior players to come up big from Monday to Friday and sometimes on Saturday, and that’s what he’s done today. He’s so important in the locker room for me.” On if Kah’s performance sends a message to the critics: “Listen, football is a brilliant game and opinions in this game vary. Some people think you’re the best player and some people think you’re the worst player. No one is right and no one is wrong –it’s the reality of the game we’re in. He’s played better this season for me, but I’m sure you’ll talk about him more this game than games where I think he’s played better for me.” On Matias Laba: “We talk about Mati week in and week out. I said when I signed him that he’s arguably the best midfield player in the league, or one of the top, top midfielders, without a doubt. He’s getting stronger and better and continues to improve. He’s the youngest one in the league, but he’s outstanding. I wouldn’t swap him for anyone, I’ll tell you that. And I mean it.” On expecting a little more chippy match between these teams: “Well, we’re not playing netball, we’re playing soccer, so that’s what happens.” On the decision to be more aggressive with the fullbacks: “I thought they were trying to get Clint underneath, and Clint is a massive danger for you if he gets underneath to one strike you. I thought it would be Obafemi, but it wasn’t, it was Chad [barrett] so we gambled a little bit with the fullbacks. We were aggressive and it worked tonight because we got a positive performance and a good result. If it didn’t, and the result was the other way, I’m sure you would’ve said why did you attack with your fullbacks so much so today is our day.” On getting the players’ chemistry going: “I keep stressing to you – we’re young. And when you’re young, you make mistakes. When you make mistakes, sometimes people are overly critical. When you’re critical, players lose confidence. I try to be super positive with these guys. Yes, they make mistakes, but I’ll back them to the hilt, and I’ll continue to do that because I haven’t met a player yet that plays brilliant every single minute of every single game. The group I’ve got in there, it’s a pleasure to work with day in and day out. I’m going to push them because I think they’re a special group, but they’ve got to be willing to buy into that. You see today that they are, and all season they have been.” On how big of a statement this result makes: “We won the game. It’s not a big statement for us at all. We take three points off Seattle, which is going to be there without a doubt to win the Supporters’ Shield. We’ll enjoy the occasion and we’ll get better with Monday so for me, no statement.” DAVID OUSTED On the clean sheet by the defence: “Yeah I thought we played well. Kah’s two goals is one thing, I congratulated him, but even better I thought we defended fantastically all night The back four was very solid and the midfield did an incredible job. So, I’m delighted to come here and get a clean sheet and a big win.” On the importance of a big win in Seattle: “I think the performance is a huge milestone for us, I haven’t seen us play this well in a very, very long time. And that’s almost more important than the result for me. Seeing us obviously win, but with a performance like that is massive.” On why they were able to play so well: “You know what, I think we had a good idea of what we had to do. We had good tactic coming in here, we needed to move the ball and not get in too much of a scrap with them. They’re a physical team, and they’re a good team at that [physical play], so moving the ball and keeping them away from us and the ball was huge. We did that so well tonight.” On the importance of playing Seattle again on Wednesday in CONCACAF Champions League: “It is [important], we want to do well in CONCACAF. Obviously it’s a little weird having them three days after this one. But, we go in with a lot of confidence now and we know what we have to do Wednesday. It’s going to be more tough on Wednesday because they want to get revenge for this one coming into our backyard, so we need to be on our toes.” On the importance of the entire group scoring goals: “I think it says that things are starting to work now. I think we are a team who could be really good on set plays, and we haven’t scored enough goals so far. Now they’re coming. Hopefully we’ll continue doing that, and hopefully Mati [Laba], Pa [Modou Kah], and Mauro [Rosales] continue and a few other guys step in. Pedro steps in today and makes an incredible free kick goal, and we know what Octavio [Rivero] can do, we know what Nico [Mezquida] can do, so I believe the goals are coming. We train hard, and hopefully that pays off.” PA-MODOU KAH On both his and the team’s performance: “First of all, I am very happy with the team. The way we played today was a really true professional football game, like from the first minute to the 90th minute we played fantastically. It’s just amazing because we have a special group here and we can go a long [way], but every day we have to come in to work and work hard, and we really did that today. It’s also good for the team, and also for the Cascadia rival, because it’s a derby game and you come in the backyard of one of the best fans in the league and you beat them 3-0.” On the Whitecaps’ tactics in the game: “I think it was not only about counter [attacking], like I think we also played very well in possession. We kept the ball and we were cutting them through the middle, and they really had no answer to us. You know, that’s the way football is. But today, we played very well. The whole team, I’m very proud of the guys. But that’s something we have to keep going because we can always improve, and we are going to keep on improving. Now this game is done, because we have the first-ever Champions League game for the Whitecaps coming up Wednesday, against the same opponents. So it’s up to us now to prove that what we did today, we can also do on Wednesday.” On whether he has scored as good goals as he did today: “Yes. I have one of the best goals, when I was playing Holland it was one of the best goals of the year. It was crowned one of the top 20 goals of the year in Europe. But, to have two finishes like this today it is just unbelievable, especially two days after my 35th birthday. Like I said earlier, there’s ten goals a year [on set pieces]. I put my two goals so I’m done for the year hopefully. Now it us up to Octavio [Rivero], Kekuta [Manneh], and the rest to score.” On the importance of Ousted’s kick-save toward the end of the first half: “Like I said, there is a reason David’s an All Star, and he proved it today again. That was a wonderful save. He didn’t have much to do, but when he was called upon he came strong and that is what we need.” SEATTLE SOUNDERS SIGI SCHMID On the overall game: “Obviously it was a disappointing match for us…It’s one of things where a team is already in a rut and then you take an early goal, and everyone’s head drops a little bit. I think it took us a while. I thought towards the end of the half we started to play a little better – I thought we could come back in the second half and do well – and we take another early goal in the second half off of their corner kick, and everyone’s head drops a little bit. We got ourselves a bit back into the game – obviously we had more looks on goal, more shots than in the previous few weeks – at the end of the day it wasn’t good enough.” On Clint Dempsey: “The plan was for him to go all 90 minutes. We weren’t worried about that based upon what he had done, so his performance was like everybody else’s. Sometimes I felt we forced some balls into him, we needed to go somewhere else with it. I thought Vancouver did a good job of killing that space in front of their center backs, making it tough to play into Clint.” On the starting line-up: “It’s a disappointment because we had different starters from the last game, and I don’t think anyone in that locker room is pleased with the result. It’s disappointing because we felt we had a good week of practice, even though Clint and Chad Marshall weren’t here the whole week, but it is something we need to do better.” On establishing connections between players: “It’s never going to be that easy. I tried to caution people who thought, ‘OK everybody is back so it will be snap of the fingers and it’s going to all happen again.’ That’s not the way it works. You’ve got to get players back to playing again and on the same page. [Erik] Friberg has never played with Dempsey before, today is his first game playing with Clint – we tried him in a slightly different position to begin the game, so that was an adjustment. Clint hasn’t play with Thomàs, so there are connections there that aren’t established.” On the reaction of the Vancouver players at the final whistle: “They went out and celebrated on our field a little bit and that pisses us off. We’ve got to make sure that we right that and we pay them back for that. I don’t think teams should come in here and be taking snapshots and pictures on our field. It pisses me off and I think it pisses off our players. When you play back-to-back and close together, that maybe heats up things.” STEFAN FREI On what he could have done differently on the goals: “I have to go back and look at it. There’s always something you probably could have done better but disappointed to give up three goals on set pieces.” On giving up goals on set-pieces: “Well the third is probably a good finish. In general we just gave away too many silly free kicks around the box and maybe one was just in a nice sweet spot for him to take advantage and obviously he took advantage of it. A center back with two goals for them is right spot at the right time but still we have to be in the right spot at the right time. You can’t just always say it’s bad luck. We have to win individual battles, we have to be sharp defensively on set pieces and do better.” On the need for the team to come together as a team: “It’s huge; I think we’ve been trying to take it one game at a time. People might say this is an important game or that is an important game. I think any game is a chance to get out of a slump and any game is a chance to get back on a run. Whether that is on Wednesday or the following game, right now Wednesday is our next game and we have to prepare for that so tomorrow we have the day off. We’ve got to make sure we take care of our bodies and after that we have limited time on the field to get ready but we have to make sure we get better in those limited days.” On Vancouver's celebrations at the end of the game: "To me, if you take a team picture like you just won a trophy on an enemy's field , so to speak, I take that personally. If somebody comes up to me and tells me I played a good game and laughs in my face, I take that personally." BRAD EVANS On the potential for revenge on Wednesday: “Yeah, not so much revenge. We’ve just got to back to playing our style of soccer and get back to our winning ways so our focus is on us, not on the other team.” On what went wrong: “Three set piece goals. The first one takes a deflection off my hip and bounces straight to Kah and he bangs it in. The second one, short corner, shoots, and Kah gets another cheeky little touch, little back heel. And the third one the wall separates and he bangs it in. So that’s a consolation goal at the end and team-wise we have to defend as a team and offensively as a team too so not good on both ends tonight.” On the loss being different with more guys back: “No, I think every loss is crappy, obviously. Considering the circumstances and losing so many in a row now is not an ideal situation but the only thing we can do is put a smile on, come into practice and get back to work. I say put a smile on but we’ve all got to have good attitudes moving forward so we can’t sink the ship right now. So, if changes need to be made that’ll come from up top but we’ve all got to come in and work. We’ve got a big one on Wednesday night.”
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  3. The calm before the storm - when 'Caps fans were hopeful Would it be a feast or a famine for Sigi Schmid? Carl Robinson gets lost in the moment Vancouver Whitecaps starting XI The other mob Early trouble for Vancouver as Chad Barrett latches on to a Clint Dempsey through ball and fires home the opener Five minutes gone and 1-0 Seattle amid jubilant scenes from the visitors Pedro Morales almost ties it up immediately with a looping effort that it tipped over the bar Then Kendall Waston comes close to an equaliser for the 'Caps Matias Laba picks up another early yellow card More Whitecaps woe as Barrett gets on the end of a perfect Pappa pass Firing past Ousted in the 38th minute to make it 2-0 Seattle Someone loves X-Box (us if there's any freebies going!) With nothing happening in the second half, Darren Mattocks sees what it's like to be Cristian Techera for a bit Octavio Rivero seems unlikely to get a penalty call in MLS this season Darwin Jones nearly makes it 3-0 for Seattle late on, but Ousted comes up big Sadly someone's going home happy You can see a Flickr slideshow of all of Tom's photos from the game below:
  4. REPORT (by Steve Pandher) For the second straight match Vancouver Whitecaps gave up an early goal but this time there would be no comeback as Seattle Sounders held on comfortably for a 2-0 win at B.C. Place. All the scoring came in the first half as Chad Barrett scored a brace while the Sounders defence limited Vancouver’s chances, earning Stefan Frei a cleansheet. The opening goal came in the fifth minute. Octavio Rivero's header found its way to Clint Dempsey who sent the ball over the backline allowing Barrett to beat the offside trap, take a touch into the box and finish past David Ousted to the far post to give the visitors the lead. Pedro Morales almost responded two minutes later when he got around a couple of defenders and attempted a shot that forced Frei to tip it over the bar. Then it was Kendall Waston’s turn, as his header from a Morales free kick was caught by Frei, denying another chance to even the match. Still inside 20 minutes, Kekuta Manneh had a chance from a tight angle with his shot skimming the crossbar and then moments later he set up Morales outside the box, with this attempt missing to the left of the net. After being kept quiet for the majority of the half, Octavio Rivero had his first attempt on goal blocked. The missed chances would prove to be costly as the 'Caps gave up another goal to Chad Barrett in the 38th minute and it was in a similar fashion to the opener. This time it was Marco Pappa who would provide the service into the left channel of the box and Barrett would take a first time shot to the far post to double Seattle’s lead. Within the first five minutes after the break the Whitecaps had a chance to pull one back when Manneh sent in a cross to the far post and found Rivero, but his header was easily caught by Frei. The remainder of the second half saw a number chances by the 'Caps either missed or blocked with the best chance coming from second half sub Darwin Jones for the Sounders late on. It was a frustrating game for the Whitecaps, especially for the attackers who were unable to find any space in the final third. Even when they got around the box the Seattle defenders negated chances by closing down quickly and blocking shots. Defensively, the Whitecaps backline fell asleep a couple times and allowed the Sounders to capitalise on their few chances in the first half. Both goals saw the Sounder midfielders place the ball in a perfect spot allowing Barrett to make the most of his opportunities. With the loss the Whitecaps have dropped from the top of the Western Conference into second, and are now only a point ahead of the Sounders with their rivals having played two less matches. However, before they get a chance to bounce back in MLS action and try to climb back to the top, Vancouver will travel to face FC Edmonton in the second leg of the Voyageurs Cup semi-final on Wednesday, where they'll need to put in a better performance than their last two matches to have any chance of advancing. FINAL SCORE: Vancouver Whitecaps 0 - 2 Seattle Sounders ATT: 21,000 (sell-out) VANCOUVER: David Ousted; Steven Beitashour, Kendall Waston, Pa-Modou Kah, Jordan Harvey; Matías Laba, Russell Teibert (Gershon Koffie 64); Cristian Techera (Darren Mattocks 61), Pedro Morales, Kekuta Manneh (Kianz Froese 76); Octavio Rivero [substitutes not used: Paolo Tornaghi, Nicolás Mezquida, Tim Parker, Robert Earnshaw] SEATTLE: Stefan Frei; Tyrone Mears, Brad Evans, Chad Marshall, Dylan Remick; Marco Pappa (Leonardo González 90+2), Osvaldo Alonso, Gonzalo Pineda, Lamar Neagle (Darwin Jones 85); Clint Dempsey, Chad Barrett (Andy Rose 72) [substitutes not used: Troy Perkins, Cristian Roldan, Zach Scott, Michael Azira] REACTION: VANCOUVER WHITECAPS CARL ROBINSON On whether who scored first had the game: "Yeah I think so. They're a good team. Supporters' Shield winners, we know that, good players. First goals change games. I couldn't fault the group, I really couldn't. The way that we played the first half especially. To go in two-nil down at half time was difficult to take. The first goal was probably going to be the deciding factor." On whether the body language of Vancouver's players indicated they'd given up: "I don't think that's a very fair assessment. When you're playing a very good team, and they are a very good team, the first goal changes the game. We were able to play through them in the first half. In the second half, when the dynamic of the game has changed, they have the ball, they keep the ball. They've got some very good, experienced players who know how to manage the game and slow it, and they did. "When you're chasing, it becomes hard so naturally your body language changes because you're chasing. When you're winning the game, you don't feel you're chasing because you have the ball. When you're not, unfortunately you do." On Robert Earnshaw [and why he wasn’t brought on]: “Because it wasn’t a case of we had pinned them back. It was a case of the game was still wide open and I think he’s good in and around the box. If I want to put Earnshaw on and the result would’ve finished the same, I’m sure it might have been ‘Well, why didn’t you put Darren on,’ and those decisions you have to make as a manager and a coach. I just felt it was right.” On Kendall Waston: “The front two players for Seattle are fantastic players, and they’ve got good movement. We planned all week for Clint and [Obi], Obi didn’t play and Chad came in and credit to Chad, that’s two super finishes. The second one was a fantastic finish with his left foot. But, it’s not nice when you concede any goal and we knew that would be the case. They would get the chances down that channel and we worked on it, and unfortunately we didn’t execute it… 15 chances and we were able to score none today.” On Seattle’s defending: “That’s credit to them. Whenever you lose you get back to basics and we’ll have to do that. They deserved the victory today. Even though we played well.” Thoughts on if this game is a step back: “I wouldn’t stay a step back, you’ve got to take these on the chin now and again. You’ve got to have disappointment then to have an excitement and elation. Today’s a disappointment for us. Because it is our rivals, but make no doubt about it, we know they’re a good team. Whether they’re second, third, fourth, wherever in the table, they are going to be there or thereabouts at the end of the year. We have to make sure we are. So, we just have to rebound because we’re going to lose games this year. The good teams are able to bounce back.” On the three matches lost at home and their performance at home: “We’ve lost a game of football today. It’s unfortunate we’ve lost three games at home. We’ve got to make sure we don’t lose at home. And we did today so I’ll take responsibility for that. We need to do better. Myself included.” On Russell Teibert being taken off [and was it because of Wednesday’s match]: “No. I thought he was dead on his feet. He was playing very well. He was excellent in possession of the ball. I just asked him how much energy he had and he just seemed a little bit tired compared to the levels that he had so it was just Koffie thirty minute fresh legs. That was the only reason.” On Cristian Techera being ‘out-muscled’: “If you look at the size of him, he’s not going to change overnight. He needs to think with his head and I think he got some great positions today and caused Seattle a lot of problems without the final execution. And that was throughout the team, a lot of the guys got into some good areas and we didn’t execute.” On Mauro Rosales’ recovery: “It would have been a massive risk to play him. I don’t take massive risks as you know. So he’ll probably be good to go next week. Maybe Wednesday, but we’ll see how he trains on Monday.” On Sam Adekugbe’s injury: “Sam will be a few weeks. It’s not as originally bad as first feared, which is good. That’s why he has a smile on his face, but he’ll be a few weeks.” STEVEN BEITASHOUR Thoughts on disappointing loss: “Yes, definitely, it’s disappointing especially being at home and against Cascadia rivals. We started off strong but giving that goal just deflated us, deflated the crowd, you could tell. We couldn’t rebound from it.” Thoughts on three losses at home: “It’s not a trend we want to continue. When we come home, we want to play in front of our crowd. They are so supportive, so loud and they get behind us. We have to give them something to cheer for and that early goal didn’t give them something to get on their feet for.” Thoughts on being 2-0 down at halftime and having to fight back from there: “Yes, it’s tough. They are a smart team, they are mature, they are old, they have been around the block a few times so they know how to keep the ball and make us chase and tire us out. You’re just chasing empty grass around, chasing the ball and never getting anything on it. We’re down two-nothing and you have to chase. You can’t just sit back. Otherwise, they are going to waste all the time in the world. It’s one of those things, it’s a tough situation to be in. We would like to not go down in the first place so we don’t have to worry about that but sometimes things happen and they get lucky breaks where they get one half-chance and one goal and we’re going to have to do a better job coming back.” On Sounders' strengths: ”They’ve been there. They are a veteran team. They’ve got good players in every spot from goalkeeper to their forwards. They were Supporters’ Shield winners last season for a reason. They got their squad back. We started off strong. I think we had it but to give up a too easy of a goal is deflating so we can’t do that. We have to be smarter and sharper at home and even on the road. We can’t do that again.” On avoiding complacency and continuing to work: “We know we’ve got a good team but we want to get to a great team. In order to get there, we have to get the stuff out. So we can’t come in thinking we know this is going to be easy. We know it’s going to be tough. We have to continue to work and improve. We have to see those two goals as perfect examples on not being complacent and letting something like that easy go in.” DAVID OUSTED Thoughts on the match: “It was very disappointing. I thought other than maybe the first 30 minutes, they were the better team. We lacked a little bit of fire and unfortunately they deserved to win today.” On what he could have done better on the two Sounders goals: “I just saw it again and my first step will always be forward to see if I can get there. In that situation, my decision is that I can’t get there – if I get to him in a 50-50 ball and I have to clip him then I’m off. I looked at it again and I stand by my decision. I’ll go look at it again and see if I can learn something but all in all, it’s a split-second decision and I don’t think I could have done anything differently. The second one, I’m a little bit more inclined to say that on a good day, I get there. He gets in behind and takes it first time. A good volley into the side-netting but I think, looking at my position there, I’m more inclined to say that that’s a save from me on a good day.” On lessons learned from Sounders defence: “I think we need to put a bit more tempo to it. Like you say, they are a very experienced team and they did really well slowing the game down, keeping the ball and whenever the ball went out, they took their time as they are supposed to do. Whenever we get on the ball, I think we need to try to speed it up. Speedier passes going forward. It’s harder for the guys though I saw they did really well closing them down. Whenever we got in their box they had a lot of people in there around the ball.” On defending Chad Barrett: “We knew that their two front guys was going to do that. Whether it was Obafemi Martins and Clint Dempsey or Martins and Barrett, we knew that one of them was going in behind. So it wasn’t a surprise. Unfortunately, he got in twice and finished it twice. We’ll take a look at that and become better in those situations.” On performance at home so far in the season: “I feel like we’re trying to make this our fortress. We’re trying to make this a tough place to play. We haven’t found that consistency at home. We really want to put on a performance and put on a show for the fans. We need to find that balance and we need to look at how we can get better.” SEATTLE SOUNDERS SIGI SCHMID Thoughts on the match: “We are pleased. We are pleased with the result. I thought the team played very well tactically. We learned from last week as well and put those lessons into effect. I thought we did a good job of shutting down the balls over the top. I thought we shut down Rivero fairly well and I thought we had Morales in check for most of the game also. We had some timely finishing from Chad.” On Chad Barrett: “Chad’s a forward, he’s scored goals in this league before. He is part of our team, he is a good player and scored goals for us last year. We talked about it, I said ‘hey here’s your chance, you’ve got to make use of your opportunity, concentrate, focus on the game.’ I tried to keep him in between the two centre backs and look for those little gaps when they popped up and he finished both his chances really well.” On Brad Evans: “I thought Brad was good. I thought the whole defence was good. Tyrone Mears has been solid on the outside. He’s got a tough day with guarding Manneh and I thought he did a good job with him. Remick did well and Ozzie [Alonso] sitting in that gap in front of them makes us a much more solid team defensively. I know we gave away more shots, but so many of their shots were from distance, they were not very troublesome. It’s good for the stats but they weren’t dangerous.” On frustrating Whitecaps on defence: “We talked about dropping our line. We talked about establishing our line of confrontation a bit further back. We know they like to get the ball to Morales and stretch the team by having Manneh and Techera run behind the defence. We want to take that space away from them and I thought we did that very well.” On Darwin Jones’ first appearance: “He did well. We thought at the very end that his speed could present a problem. He had a good opportunity there on goal. If he hits it a little more far post maybe he sneaks it past him. For his first experience, I’m sure he was a bit nervous but we felt it was the right time to bring him in.” On whether this was a statement win for Seattle: “It’s early in the season but we wanted to let people know that we are still here. We haven’t disappeared. I know Dallas and Vancouver have been on top of the table pretty much from the beginning of the season. But we wanted to let people know the road still goes through Seattle.” On Chad Marshall: “Chad certainly helped us. He solidifies our backline. His defending is an important part of our team. More than anything we asked Chad to change his game. Chad was never a guy who wanted to play possession. I thought he did a great job at it today. He is getting more and more comfortable. He is a good passer of the ball. Sometimes he doesn’t want it but he is a good passer. Obviously his leadership, his ability to win headers, the one block that he made. I forgot who dribbled across and he came sliding out to block that shot, that was a big play.” On getting a clean sheet: “It meant a lot. Three out of our back four are new guys. Remick didn’t play that much last year. Tyrone’s a new guy, we shifted Brad Evans position and I think those guys are really starting to gel and understand each other.” On Obafemi Martins' injury: “We’ll see. We are hoping he will be able to train next week and we will make a decision as we come into the weekend.” STEFAN FREI Thoughts on the game: “Great. This was probably our best performance overall just because we were very efficient and in control offensively and defensively. So at all times our possession was on spot. The way we took care of our chances was clinical. It was a pleasure to watch it from the back and at no point was there panic from any of us and that is against a really good team. They like to go a million miles an hour and they usually have that energy to do that for 90 minutes, but when you see some of their guys being dead tired at the end of the game, that means great possession against a team that usually runs you into the ground.” On Barrett scoring two goals: “Clinical. Sometimes it might be tough when you’re on the bench and not seeing the field too much. I think we all believe we are one big unit. And we all have to keep working hard in training and make sure we are ready when we are called upon. He took his chances well today and we needed it.” BRAD EVANS On position change and playing in the back: “With that position you kind of look back at games as a learning experience. San Jose was a big one where maybe I got too complacent. Last week I think I got a little too complacent as well. I watched some tape this week. We said there is no pressure on the ball, let’s trap and we absorbed pressure better like that and play out the back. They are all learning experiences and I am trying not to get ahead of myself.” On two goals by Barrett: “It’s awesome. It’s so important and that’s about building a deep team. As we step into Champions League and Open Cup this year, it is what we need to capture multiple trophies.”
  5. Have a listen! You can listen to this, and all previous, episodes of the podcast on iTunes HERE. Or download it for your later listening delight HERE. We also have an iPhone app, so you can now add our podcast to your phone as an app. Visit the podcast's mobile site HERE and then at the bottom of the screen just click the "Quick Launch" icon and the podcast will be added to your home screen and appear as an app. And if that's not enough, we're on Stitcher Radio Network. Download the app and listen to the AFTN podcast on your device, along with over 20,000 other shows HERE. Or after all that, you could just listen on the player below!
  6. You can listen to this, and all previous, episodes of the podcast on iTunes HERE. Or download it for your later listening delight HERE. We also have an iPhone app, so you can now add our podcast to your phone as an app. Visit the podcast's mobile site HERE and then at the bottom of the screen just click the "Quick Launch" icon and the podcast will be added to your home screen and appear as an app. And if that's not enough, we're on Stitcher Radio Network. Download the app and listen to the AFTN podcast on your device, along with over 20,000 other shows HERE. Or after all that, you could just listen on the player below!
  7. Have a listen! You can listen to this week's podcast on iTunes HERE. Or download it for your later listening delight HERE. We also have an iPhone app, so you can now add our podcast to your phone as an app. Visit the podcast's mobile site HERE and then at the bottom of the screen just click the "Quick Launch" icon and the podcast will be added to your home screen and appear as an app. And if that's not enough, we've joined Stitcher Radio Network. Download the app and listen to the AFTN podcast on your device, along with over 15,000 shows HERE. Or after all that, you could just listen on the player below!
  8. "Yeah, everything that's been happening just feels dreamy," Froese said at training on Monday. "Honestly, the night after the game, and right after the game, I just kept replaying it. The crowd, the people, the support. It's just unbelievable. "I wasn't sure I was going to [play] when I went. I just went on the field and tried to enjoy every moment of it, watching everybody and everything. It was great." A whirlwind for sure, but how much of those 45 minutes on the pitch (52 I guess with all the stoppage time!) did Kianz get to enjoy and savour, or did it all just fly by? "No, it flew by, like a lot of the stuff that happened in it. I remember some of it and some I don't. It's tough. It feels blurry now. I don't remember much." He might not recall much of the action, but all he needs to know is that he didn't look one inch out of place out there. He was involved, he showed some nice footwork out wide and caused Seattle's defence some problems. Carl Robinson described him after the game as having "no fear" and Froese wasn't afraid to put himself about a bit, with a couple of crunching tackles soon settling him down, including a nice one that sent Jalil Anibaba flying through the air. "I felt comfortable," Froese admitted. "I'm happy that Robbo believed in me to put me in, in such a big game that we needed to win. The guys were great. They talked to me and they were on me all the time, 'hey come, tuck here, tuck there' so I had extra help to go for it." Another aspect that helped was that this wasn't Froese's pro debut as such. The 18-year-old played 77 minutes for the Caps in their 2-1 loss in Toronto in their Canadian Championship semi-final first leg match-up. That experience, along with playing for Canada at last year's U17 World Cup in the UAE, certainly gave Froese a good grounding and appetite for more. "It gave me a taste of where I wanted to be," Froese told us. "Now that I see it, I know where I want to be playing week in, week out. But I need to continue to work hard on tons of stuff so that I can progress into playing more often." There's been talk that the Caps might send Froese, Marco Bustos and some of their other young talent over to Europe at the start of the offseason to have training stints at some top clubs and get more experience. Bryce Alderson spent time at QPR last year and it's believed that the Whitecaps have a number of options available to them. For now though, Froese still has some Residency matches coming up. The U18s have six remaining matches in the USSDA this year and Kianz will have an important part to play. The Whitecaps will also want to see how he reacts with going back to the Residency environment after first team action. It's all part of the development plan and seeing the right attitude is very important to them. It's certainly not something they have to worry about with Froese, who knows the benefit of still growing within his own age group as well as against pros. It also gives him the chance to share his experience with the rest of the Residency squad, all of whom will be eager to follow in his and Bustos' footsteps, and have already been in touch. "I've spoken to my teammates and a lot of the guys. A lot of conversations," Froese said. "It's going to be the same [going back to Residency]. Obviously that's where it all started and that's where you go to continue to get game fit and game sharpness." The Residency games also give Froese the chance to develop different aspects of his game and the U18s have seen him play as an out and out striker, a 'false nine', on the wing and as both an attacking and defensive midfielder. For Kianz, the more experience he can get in different positions, the better a player it will make him. "I think it helps me understand the game better because you have to understand everyone else's roles too," Froese told us. "It gives me more positions that I can play in too. I think it's helped me. Everything the Residency has done has just helped me in general." Which of course bodes well for all the other players coming through from the Residency in the next couple of years. It's certainly exciting times in Whitecapsland.
  9. The Good: Russell Teibert and Matias Laba There were a couple options for the 'good' portion of this article. The play of Andy O'Brien and Kendall Waston, the guts that Kekuta Manneh showed or the great support from the Whitecaps fans down in Seattle. In the end the great play of Laba and Teibert shutting down the defensive midfield attack is the one for me. They played well off one another and killed any build up Dempsey tried to make. In the past 10 games of this partnership they have bonded and formed a great duo. This has given the Whitecaps a chance to have Gershon Koffie heal properly and not have to rush him back. The Average: Erik Hurtado's Hold Up Play I know that isn't his game to play a hold up striker type of position, but if you are in a critical game and up a goal with 15-20 minutes to go, you need to keep the ball in the Sounders side of the pitch and kill the clock. Too often the ball would go into his feet with his back to the keeper and he would lose it right away. He didnt have a soft enough touch to keep the ball at his feet and get the ball out wide so an attacking player could run it to the end line. It's too late to change anything this season but it would be nice to see a player like that next season. Kind of like what Kenny Miller would do when he was here. The Bad: Kendall Waston's Yellow Card Accumulation 9 MLS games and 5 yellow cards. That has to be close to some sort of record for a new player to a league. Over the course of a 34 game full season that would be 18 yellow cards on current going. That being said there is no way I would want him to change the way he plays. Even after picking up his yellow card this game he played the best 15 minutes any Whitecaps defender has ever played in the MLS era. So Waston keep up the great play and just make sure the games you do miss because of yellow cards you rest up and get ready for the next battle.
  10. Carl Robinson made only one change to his starting line-up and that was a forced one, with Sebastian Fernandez suspended. That paved the way for Kekuta Manneh to come in to where he made headlines around the world with his hat-trick heroics almost a year ago to the day. Like that game, Seattle carried the early play and Lamar Neagle had the first shot of the game just 70 seconds in, with a low drive that David Ousted easily held. The home controlled possession without really threatening the Whitecaps' goal, with Obafemi Martins having a half chance 20 minutes in, but Steven Beitashour reacted quickly to block his shot. Manneh had been pretty easily contained this time around, but he showed what he was capable of on the half hour mark, when he collected the ball, cut inside and fired off a low shot that Stefan Frei had to turn round his near post. Vancouver's defence were holding solid as Seattle tried to turn up some pressure and with the Whitecaps squad already depleted, it looked like things may go from back to worse when Manneh went down injured with minutes of the half remaining. The Gambian hobbled off after treatment, only to come back on seconds later and open the scoring in an amazing turnaround in the 45th minute. Pedro Morales found Manneh in loads of room on the right and the speedster, fuelled by adrenalin, ran at the Sounders defence, turned inside Chad Marshall and buried it low under Frei for the opening goal of the game. Manneh pulled up hobbling in his celebrations and with the half time whistle coming shortly after, he hit the deck again and had to be carried off the pitch by two Whitecaps trainers. That was perhaps the Whitecaps most important half of the season. Now came the next one. Manneh was unable to come out for the second half, which meant a debut for the Caps' new homegrown signing Kianz Froese. What a game and what an atmosphere to make your MLS debut. The Caps pushed for a quick second right at the start of the second half and Erik Hurtado nearly got it when he was sent clear but was denied by the legs of Frei to keep it a one goal game. It was to be a nervy period after that with Seattle pressing but Vancouver keeping them comfortably at bay. There were some edge of the seat moments at the minutes ticked down, the closest of which came in stoppage time when Kendall Waston cleared a Brad Evans header off the line. The Caps killed the game of to perfection though to once again sit in the driver's seat in the race to the playoffs. Two Cup Finals left. FINAL SCORE: Seattle Sounders 0 - 1 Vancouver Whitecaps ATT: 55,765 SEATTLE: Stefan Frei; Brad Evans, Chad Marshall, Jalil Anibaba (Andy Rose 82), Leo Gonzalez; Marco Pappa (Chad Barrett 62), Osvaldo Alonso, Micheal Azira (Gonzalo Pineda 65), Lamar Neagle; Clint Dempsey, Obafemi Martins [subs Not Used: Marcus Hahnemann, Kenny Cooper, Gonzalo Pineda, Zach Scott, Djimi Traore] VANCOUVER: David Ousted; Steven Beitashour, Andy O'Brien, Kendall Waston, Jordan Harvey; Matias Laba, Russell Teibert, Mauro Rosales (Mehdi Ballouchy 71), Pedro Morales (Nicolas Mezquida 81), Kekuta Manneh (Kianz Froese 46); Erik Hurtado [subs Not Used: Paolo Tornaghi, Ethen Sampson, Sam Adekugbe, Johnny Leveron]
  11. Fans only get to see the on-pitch Rosales on matchday, and before the Dallas game a small smattering on the Southsiders forum questioned just how much of a benefit it was bringing a player of his age and on his salary to the club at this late stage of the season, especially when the team was crying out for a proven goalscorer. Now without sounding like a broken record, it’s the work that he does away from the actual game that is why he’s so important to the Whitecaps right now. He’s been working hard with the ‘Caps group of young strikers to help them see the game in a different way and to raise their own skill and workrate. You can see some results. They’re maybe not earthshattering just yet, but they are there and there has been some noticeable improvements. He initially did a lot of work with Kekuta Manneh and in recent weeks he’s been spending a lot of time working on his link up play with Erik Hurtado and Sebastian Fernandez, as that pair established themselves as Vancouver’s go-to front two. Fernandez grabbed his first two goals for 14 games on Saturday, both assisted by Rosales, and there could have been more. After the game, the Uruguayan told reporters, "Mauro is a great player. He has been supportive of us on and off the field." Even though he’s at the other of the pitch, David Ousted has seen the influence Rosales has had on the Whitecaps in his short time here. "He's come in with a lot of experience," Ousted said. "Mauro knows this league and you can see just on his level that he’s a good player. He shows it every day in practice and every match that he means a lot to this team and brings some experience." Rosales just sees that imparting of knowledge as part of his job and what should be expected of a veteran like himself. It must also have been very clear to him when he came to the club just how unpolished the Whitecaps strikers were. He’s enjoying the time he’s getting to spend working with them, building up understandings of where each other will be and expected to be on the pitch, especially when it pays off like it did on Saturday. "It's part of the work that we are doing with the guys", Rosales said. "We always talk about having minutes, having time with them. Everyday just knowing each other is much easier. As soon as I get more minutes with them, more days with them, I'll be much better. "It's important for us to get the strikers playing up front goals and to get confidence. This is what we need for the last push." Barring Manneh or Mattocks going on a tear, Erik Hurtado seems to have locked down the main striker’s position till the end of the season. Rosales has been working with him training, especially on link-up play between the pair, and even though there was no goal against Dallas, Hurtado’s workrate and hold-up play was excellent and better than what we’ve seen from him for much of the season. "Seeing Erik today, running a lot, working very hard for the team to create space, just holding the ball, let us have a little bit of breath to manage the game and everything was outstanding today," Rosales felt. "Sometimes you have to do what you don't like best and sometimes you have to do what's the best for the team. He showed today a character and a professionalism and we are happy for that and also getting the three points against a very tough team." And of that link-up play with Hurtado, Rosales added: "We are getting better with each other. Sometimes we don't combine as much as we want, but sometimes the game just demands another thing, not just playing between the lines. He did very well today just holding the ball, even against three guys today. The focus now from Rosales and the Whitecaps is on the massive game on Friday away to Seattle. Portland’s come from behind win at San Jose on Saturday night kept the pressure on Vancouver and kept the ‘Caps playoff lead to a solitary point and it’s very likely that the Whitecaps will go into Friday night’s encounter behind the Timbers, as they play the Earthquakes again on Wednesday. There’s also the smaller matter that a win for Vancouver sees them retain the Cascadia Cup, but a draw or a loss, sees the Sounders grab their fourth trophy, equalling the Whitecaps’ record. For Rosales, it’s bound to be an emotional night as he heads back to Seattle. Having spent three MLS seasons with the Sounders, he played against them for Chivas back in April. That was at the Stub Hub Center through and this will be his first game back in Seattle as a visiting player. "It's going to be a very nice game for me, just coming back in front of the fans that gave me a lot of satisfaction when I was there, but now defending Vancouver," Rosales admitted to AFTN, but he's looking at the far bigger picture. "We're in a position where we're needing everything from each other and we are going there to battle, to get the points. We are facing the leader of our Conference and everybody needs to be concentrating, facing the game like we did today and just trying to get the points. This is more important than just me going there." Whenever I've written about Rosales for MLSsoccer.com, the love that the Sounders still have for the guy shines through in the comments, so does he expect to get a warm reception on Friday? "I hope so," he told us with a smile. "I think I did very good over there and they always support me, even playing here, playing in Chivas, playing anywhere. They always support me and this is something I will appreciate forever and it's something really nice to have supporters from both teams just helping you out." How much they'll support him if he grabs his first Whitecaps goal or contributes a couple of assists against them will remain to be seen! The story almost writes itself.
  12. The Good: Caps still have a shot at the Cascadia Cup With the past two 3-0 losses to Portland, Vancouver haven't done themselves any favours in the race for five Cascadia Cups. That being said they still have a shot at retaining the Cup this season. The current standings have Seattle 8pts, Vancouver 7pts and Portland 7pts. The only game remaining is Friday October 10th - Whitecaps at Sounders. The Caps must win this to get the majestic cup in the supporters' hands once again. A loss or a tie means the cup will have a new home in the Emerald City next season. While the playoff door is not completely shut, it is closing fast. Losing out on the Cascadia Cup and not making the playoffs will make this season a complete disappointment. The Average: The play of David Ousted In the last two games, David Ousted's play has not been terrible but hasn't been good at all. Five goals against in two games will very rarely get you wins. He took the blame for the loss in FC Dallas, as he should have. In training last week he talked about it being time for the team to play with attitude, that didn't happen at all. With five games remaining Ousted has to play better. He needs to win games that the team shouldn't be winning with their lack of quality play. Time for him to steal victories and get this team in the playoffs. The Bad: Matias Laba Worst game in a Whitecaps jersey. Maybe right up there as the worst game in his career too?! After he picked up his 7th yellow of the season he became a ball watcher and looked like he was afraid to tackle in case he got a red. He doesn't have room in his game to play cautious, he has to play tough and challenge in that midfield to be effective.
  13. Carl Robinson brought Steven Beitashour and Andy O'Brien back into the starting line up after resting them against Dallas last weekend, with Erik Hurtado confining Darren Mattocks to the bench after his goal in Texas on Saturday. The game was to be lively and end to end from the off and it was the Whitecaps who got the first chance just 49 seconds in when Sebastian Fernandez ran in on goal and hit his shot a foot or so wide of the left post. Hurtado was getting a lot of room to play but he took too long to bring down an excellent long ball from Fernandez in the 9th minute and the opportunity went from a one on one with the goalkeeper to Portland getting six defenders back. The play was going from one end of the pitch to the other, but it was the Caps who were getting the goalscoring chances. Jordan Harvey sent a ball across the face of the goal but there was to be no takers and Portland breathed another sigh of relief. The Timbers responded with a quick break and David Ousted had to be out quick to snuff out the danger. Russell Teibert has been struggling offensively this season but he made room for himself after some nice link up work with Mauro Rosales in the 18th minute, only to see his fierce shot hit off a Timber for a corner. Vancouver's inability to take those chances was punished in the 28th minute when Portland took the lead, pretty much against the run of play. As has been the Whitecaps' downfall for much of this season, poor marking and poor tracking cost them dearly when Diego Valeri was allowed to run in unmarked and volley home a Jorge Villafana cross from 12 yards out for the opener. It was a stunning finish that gave Ousted no chance, and a tough time now lay ahead for the Caps. More sloppy Vancouver defending went unpunished in the 38th minute when Fanendo Adi powered through the backline and played the ball to a wide open Alvas Powell, but Ousted stood tall and blocked his near post shot. That was to be the last real action of the half and Portland headed in a goal up and back in the playoff places in the West. There were no changes for either side at the half and Vancouver came out again all guns blazing, but without managing to get off the shots needed. The Caps should have had a penalty in the 54th minute when Fernandez had his ankle taken out as he tried to skip through two Timbers defenders, but it may have been a case of his reputation preceding him referee Hilario Grajeda waved away the claims. Portland started to control the play and looked dangerous every time they broke forward. Darlington Nagbe had a shot from the edge of the box that whipped over and then followed that up in the 62nd minute with a shot which Ousted could only parry but the danger was cleared before Fanendo Adi could pounce. The Nigerian wasn't to be denied however and he got his goal four minutes later when Valeri dispossessed Matias Laba just inside the Portland half and he streaked clear with a two on two break before playing the ball inside for Adi to simply slot home and make it 2-0 Portland. Vancouver threw everything forward. Too much so and when O'Brien and Waston ended up in a heap on top of Pa Modou Kah in the 69th minute, Portland streaked forward and Adi easily stroked home his second, and the Timbers third, through Ousted's legs. And that was all she wrote. Both teams had a couple of half chances, but even with some substitutions, the Caps attack looked woefully impotent. There was an appeal for a Darren Mattocks penalty, but again the referee wasn't interested. Vancouver now have five games to save their season and go from being the chased to the chasers. Will that help them play more relaxed? Even if it doesn't, can anything help them finish their chances? Real Salt Lake come to town next Saturday. A team that just hit five goals and destroyed Colorado last night. It could be a long five weeks. FINAL SCORE: Portland Timbers 3 - 0 Vancouver Whitecaps ATT: 20,814 PORTLAND: Donovan Ricketts; Alvas Powell, Pa Modou Kah, Liam Ridgewell, Jorge Villafana; Diego Chara, Will Johnson, Diego Valeri; Rodney Wallace (Gaston Fernandez 87), Darlington Nagbe, Fanendo Adi (Maxi Urruti 72) [subs Not Used: Andrew Weber, Ben Zemanski, Jack Jewsbury, Norberto Paparatto, Michael Harrington] VANCOUVER: David Ousted; Steven Beitashour, Andy O'Brien, Kendall Waston, Jordan Harvey; Matias Laba, Russell Teibert, Mauro Rosales (Kekuta Manneh 65), Pedro Morales, Sebastian Fernandez (Nicolas Mezquida 76); Erik Hurtado (Darren Mattocks 76) [subs Not Used: Paolo Tornaghi, Ethen Sampson, Sam Adekugbe, Mehdi Ballouchy] CARL ROBINSON: On the overall game: "They got a good grip of the game when they scored their first goal. The first 20-25 minutes, I thought we were excellent. We weren't able to capitalise on that after a very good start and they have their very first shot and they score a goal, and goals change games, as we all know. "Then there wasn't really very much in the game, but one or two mistakes cost us in the end and obviously the 3-0 scoreline is not great for us. Performance wise was good, result wise was awful." Did Caps fade after a bright start? "I think we did. That's a fair assessment. But to come away from home and to start as bright as we did for 25 minutes and take the game to them, without getting the goal. But it doesn't matter what you do between the two penalty boxes it's what happens in penalty boxes that matters." Portland have eight unanswered goals now against Vancouver, do they just have the mark of this team? "Maybe. I know Caleb before the game, his comments were that the 3-0 would stand them in good stead. He must have had a crystal ball because it finished 3-0 again today." Are his team wilting under the pressure? "I don't think we're wilting. With teams, you try and take your chances when you can. If you don't take your chances then people can say whatever you want. I'm the manager of this team and if you want to say it's wilting then I'm wilting. Is it game over if Vancouver don't score the first goal? "You could be right. We have to get a goal somewhere to start maybe, because when we go a goal down we're probably not playing with the same energy or desire or confidence that we should do. But we've got to learn because we're not going to always score the first goal. "In the early part of the season we always scored the first goal. We were a team that was playing with confidence and creating chances and not wilting. Today we conceded the first goal and we lost our way a little bit, that's why getting in at halftime was important, but we managed to regroup again. The second goal was always going to be the crucial goal and fortunately enough for them they got it and unfortunately for me I didn't get it." Playoff battle over these next five games: "There's 15 points to play for. We're chasing them now. It's a different scenario when you're chasing a team rather than when a team's chasing you. So the ball's in their court. We can concentrate on our business and make sure that if we play like that, and get more people in the box to try and have the desire to score goals, we won't be far away." Will it give the team the spark they so badly need to be the chasers and not the chased? "I hope so because something's got to change," Robinson admitted. "We've had chances to pull away and haven't. They've had chances to catch us and they haven't. Today was their chance, they took it, they caught us and they're ahead of us now. So the dynamic might change a little bit but all you can concentrate on is your own business." On facing an in-form Real Salt Lake next after their 5-1 demolition of Colorado: "They were not bad, weren't they. We'll see next week after the game. It's a big challenge for us and if we want to play in big games, important games, we've got to cope with this pressure. There's a little bit of pressure on next week, some would say massive pressure, but put the pressure on me and let them play the way I know they can play. If we can do that and if we can get a chance or two and take a chance or two, then hopefully we can get a win." On bouncing back from this: "We've got to rebound back. The beauty of this game is that when you do lose you feel at the bottom of a pit, but when you do win, it makes it all the more relevant. You take moments when you win and realise that you've got to lose to win and we've got to take that on board today. We'll take it on the chin, I'll take it on the chin. We didn't win today, we conceded three goals, so I'm at fault so we'll go next week." DAVID OUSTED On the loss "I'm devastated right now. It's not a good way to lose, it's not a fun place to lose. I know you don't want to hear it, but there is five games left. We can't feel sorry for ourselves, we can't get down. We need to continue to work. If this ends our season, that's not ok, so we need to get back to it. We have Salt Lake next week and that's another big, big game." Message to the fans "We can only apologise to the fans. They've been great. They were great when we were coming in to the stadium and they got people talking about them. We can only apologise for what they're viewing right now but promise them that we won't give up, we won't stop fighting for the club or for them. Again, I go back to the five games left and we have to show them in these five games that we can come out with wins." On the playoff battle over these next five games: "I think Portland will drop points and if they do we need to capitalise on that. I believe we can push our way into the playoffs. It needs to be focussed on ourselves. We can't look at Portland, we can't look at everybody else. We need to look at performing in these last five games." Is it game over if Caps don't score first? "No. i still feel that 1-0 is 1-0. It's one goal. It's one chance that's got to be put away but no, it would be nice to just get ahead in a game and let them chase a little bit. We still need to continue what we're doing." Team better suited with being the chasers than the chased? "I think we need to come to terms with us being chasing and keep doing that for the rest of the season. I don't think we need to worry about anything else except getting points for ourselves. We can't look at anybody else. We need to chase those points and do it every weekend and then we'll look at it." ANDY O'BRIEN On the loss: "I thought for the first half hour we did OK. Then the goal took the wind out of our sails because it was their first attempt. It was a super finish. You can’t take anything away from them. It was disappointing sort of how we reacted to the goal. It’s something we have to take on the chin and dust it off. Irrespective of this result, there’s still a lot of work to be done. If we won this game, there’s still a lot of points to play for. Now we’re chasing them, so we’ll see how they react to that." On the team’s difficulties scoring goals: "We did have a few opportunities. They got men behind the ball and I think they were looking to break on us. Maybe in that first half hour we were trying to play and get the ideal goal. We have players that can shoot from distance. It’s great, hindsight, being able to look back on it. I’m sure we’ll analyze it. I know I’ll do. There’ll be things that we could have done better, but initially, even after the game, that was my observation of the first half hour." On the difficulty of getting the mentality right after a loss: "I think the way the league is set up is to go out and win games. We’re in a position now where we need to chase them. Even if we won this game, there’s still a lot of work to be done. Five games left now, so we’re looking forward to the next game." On if chasing Portland for a playoff spot will take pressure off: "I don’t know. You say we’re a young group and the only way you learn is by playing. A situation like this will stand us in good stead. In terms of the strikers, we’ve seen some fantastic goals this season. It’s been in sort of lumps and periods where we haven’t scored goals. We’re not going to throw anyone under the bus. We’ve got five games left and they’re a very important five and it starts with Salt Lake in the next game." On the feeling of watching the Timbers break away for their third goal: "I have to watch my language, but you need to get off your backside and get back as quick as you can. It was unfortunate. On another day that could end up dropping down at somebody’s feet like it did to [blas] Pérez last week for FC Dallas. It didn’t go our way. We have to dust ourselves down and get on with it." PORTLAND TIMBERS CALEB PORTER Overall thoughts on the game: "It was going to be a big game we knew that. It was going to be all six games, but like I told you guys leading into this game whoever won this game was going to be in the driver’s seat, so we control our fate. We take care of business in the next five then we are going to be in the playoffs, but we’ve got some work to do still. "I’m really pleased with our performance. This was a pressure game. This is crunch time. I knew that our experience in these situations last year when we got results under pressure was going to be pay off. I thought for me that was the biggest difference was that mentally we looked like we were confident, experienced and mature. I thought we were very patient and composed. I thought it was our best defensive game all year, I don’t even know what the stats are but from my standpoint I thought it was our best defensive performance of the year." On Vancouver's performance and containing them: "That is a good team, it’s a talented team and they didn’t get very many good looks all day long. I think a big part of it was our backline, our holding mids, all the way up through our front guys. It was team defending – sound collective defending, very organized. I thought our shape was very good. I thought we were disciplined. We were patient. It took us 27 minutes to get the first goal. In some games we haven’t been patient, we haven’t been organized, we’ve been a bit reckless trying to get that first goal and I thought today we looked very mature." On disciplined display: "When you get in games like this when, you’ve got to get results. We can’t be reckless. We don’t need to be flying up the field. We don’t need eight, nine, ten guys getting forward. I thought today our balance was right. I thought our shape was right. I thought our discipline and our patience allowed us to get the first goal and once we did I was really pleased second half we continued to stay disciplined and patient and scored on a couple of counters to put the game away." On Fanendo Adi’s play: "I told him before the game, ‘play like a man today’, was what I told him and he looked like a man. He was a beast. And he’s going against two of the strongest guys in the league [Andy] O’Brien and [Kendall] Waston. Those guys are tough matchup and I thought at times he manhandled them. A big part of our positive play in the attack was we were able to play through him and he was able to hold the ball up. It allowed us to get our midfielders into the game, it allowed us to get up the field. Then he obviously scored two great goals. People forget he’s still a young player, he’s only 23 years old and he’s still learning this league. He’s only been here a couple months. He’s only going to get better as he settles in. I thought he played like the true target, number nine that we want him to be, which is bang the centrebacks, hold the ball, get on the end of stuff and finish the couple plays you get, which is what he did." On Diego Valeri orchestrating the game: "He’s been instrumental for us this year. Obviously, he tied the single-season assist record, took the first goal and that was what for me opened the game up. It was a great finish. And I don’t know if there is anything more I can say about him. He’s in my opinion one of the best players in the league, if not the best." On whether Valeri still surprises him: "Yeah, he does. He’s special. He’s playing the best soccer of his career. It was funny I was walking through the locker room with him the other day when he was in there and I said to him, ‘you know you are playing the best football of your career right now’ and I wanted to see what he would say. And he said, ‘I think I am’. He’s had some good seasons. In the Argentine league and with Porto, but he is his prime right now and he is in a groove and that’s what you want out of your big time players at this stage in the season. You want an Adi to get a couple of goals. You want Darlington [Nagbe] to have a good game. He got an assist. You want Valeri to produce. He had a goal and an assist. This is what we need. Hopefully we will just continue to let this roll. I’ll stay out of those guys’ way and we will continue to produce. But again the thing that has been lacking at times wasn’t lacking today and that was the defending and for me that’s why we won the game." On whether he has settled on this line-up: "Well, it wouldn’t be too smart to change it at this point. I think we’ve got some other guys that are always going to be sniffing around to start. Maxi’s [urruti] shown he can produce, Gastón [Fernández] shown he can produce. We’ve got a deep team. This team, if you look at both Vancouver games, has felt like the type of team we need to be both sides of the ball and if you are looking at evidence those are probably our two best games of the year and we played the same line-up. The other thing is they have gained some confidence together. They’ve gained some chemistry. We haven’t been able to like I’ve said in the past get into a groove. So we are in a bit of groove with this line-up. This line-up does have the right dimensions in terms of team speed, enough technical ability, enough defensive organization and grit. It’s like pieces of the puzzles. I put my hand up there are a few games I haven’t put the puzzle together the right way, but I think we’ve certainly gotten it right recently with this group." On why this current defensive unit is successful: "I think our wingers our defending. That’s huge. There have been some games when our wingers aren’t defending outside backs. Our holding mids, I felt today was their best defensive game of the year. Chara and Johnson being on the same page, connected. That is a big part of how we play. We need the holding mids to protect the centrebacks, to protect the hole. I thought today both of them were outstanding. "I thought again today the balance was right. The outside backs got forward, but also got back. They weren’t both up the field at the same time. The d-mids got forward, but one was always sitting. The pulley system was working; the see-saw was working there. I thought the wingers chipped in to defend. A lot of times if they don’t we are defending with six guys versus seven or eight guys with the wingers getting tucked in. "The other thing is overall we all were a bit more patient and in control. We weren’t flying out all the time trying to win the ball. We were disciplined and our team shape, our compactness was much improved. So hopefully we can build on that because clean sheets at this stage of the season means you’re going to be a team getting points, getting results because we will find goals."
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