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  1. The Caps dominated the possession and had the majority of chances through the first half, with Waston just missing on a header from a Mauro Rosales free kick. Five minutes later Rosales would setup Pedro Morales with a chance but the Chilean would send his shot wide of the target. Just before the half hour mark it looked as though Sebastian Fernandez would find the breakthrough as he made a strong run into the box, but a nice charge by Clint Irwin would deny any goal. A minute into injury time the visitors had their best chance of the opening half as Charles Eloundou was sent in on goal and after cutting inside, sent in a shot at the near post which Ousted was able to knock it away. Vancouver continued to press in the second half and had a couple of solid chances just before the hour mark. A strike from Morales forced Irwin into making a save and then second half sub Kekuta Manneh created a great opportunity for himself later but his shot struck the crossbar. With 20 minutes to go in the match the Whitecaps finally struck for the important goal when Waston scored his second goal of the season. He connected on a corner delivered by Morales, sending the 21,000+ fans at BC Place into a frenzy. The Caps had a chance to double the lead when Morales sent in substitute Erik Hurtado on a partial break but once again Irwin was able to cut down the angle preventing the goal. In the final moments Ousted had to earn his shutout as Gabriel Torres had two dangerous volleys from outside the box that tested the keeper. Fortunately for the Caps Ousted kept the ball out on both chances, earning the Caps a 1-0 victory and a playoff spot. Once again the Whitecaps didn’t make it easy for themselves waiting until the 70th minute to get the winning goal. There were a number of chances that they were able to create but there was a lack of finish in the final third. A positive for the team going into the playoffs is their ability to score off set pieces, considering how much it was weakness going into the season, which is vital considering how much tighter defending gets in the playoffs. The Caps also end the regular season with a 392 minute shutout streak and four straight cleansheets by Ousted, something that should help the Caps in the postseason. They will attempt to get their first win of the playoffs on Wednesday when they travel south to face FC Dallas in the Western Conference knockout round. Final Score: Vancouver Whitecaps 1 - 0 Colorado Rapids Attendance: 21,000 Vancouver Whitecaps: David Ousted; Steve Beitashour (Sam Adekugbe 33), Andy O’Brien, Kendall Waston, Jordan Harvey; Matias Laba, Russell Teibert (Kekuta Manneh 56), Mauro Rosales, Pedro Morales, Sebastian Fernandez; Darren Mattocks (Erik Hurtado 67) [subs Not Used: Paolo Tornaghi, Johnny Leveron, Gershon Koffie, Nicolas Mezquida] Colorado Rapids: Clint Irwin; Marvell Wynne (Davy Armstrong 42), Zat Knight, Shane O’Neill, Chris Klute; Marlon Hairston, Nick LaBrocca, Dillon Serna (John Neeskens 73), Carlos Alvarez; Gabriel Torres, Charles Eloundou (Deshorn Brown 61) [subs Not Used: John Berner, Grant Van De Casteele, Gale Agbossoumonde] Scoring Summary: 70' - VAN - Kendall Waston (Pedro Morales) Match Stats: Shots: Vancouver 17 - Colorado 10 Shots on Goal: Vancouver 5 - Colorado 5 Saves: Vancouver 5 - Colorado 4 Fouls: Vancouver 10 - Colorado 14 Offsides: Vancouver 7 - Colorado 5 Corners: Vancouver 2 - Colorado 3 VANCOUVER WHITECAPS CARL ROBINSON On making the playoffs: "It's a fantastic achievement for the group of players I've got. I couldn't be more proud of them today because we've probably been written off a few times this year when things didn't go our way." On securing a treble of Cascadia Cup, Champions League spot and now playoffs in consecutive weeks: "We've not been bad over the last few games. I think today was probably the story of our season in 90 minutes because we played very well at times, we had a few half chances we didn't take, then we started to get edgy a little bit. "I made the decision to make early substitutions and then the big man scoring the goal. I think it was fitting that David Ousted kept us in it with two fantastic saves in the last three or four minutes because god knows what I would have done if one of them had gone in!" On the atmosphere before the winning goal: "In the three years I've been here, I've never experienced an atmosphere like I experienced today and they're part of helping suck that ball in the net because I did believe, part of me, that we might not score, if I'm being totally truthful with you, because we had a few half chances. But we stuck to pour beliefs and the boys kept going. It's credit to the organisation, the supporters and that group of players in there." On facing Dallas now in first round of playoffs on Wednesday: "I'm not satisfied now because we have a massive game on Wednesday that I firmly believe we can go on and win. "Dallas have finished above us, so they're probably favourites for the tie. They're at home. We've got nothing to lose. No-one expected us to get into the playoffs except me, that group of players and the club. We had a quiet belief about us, without an arrogance and we did. Now we're in it, who knows? Spin that wheel." Why do you think you can go into Dallas and win? “The reason why I said I think Portland would win today, Dallas are unbeaten in eight at home. They’re a very very strong team and Oscar’s done a great job there, and I knew Portland could probably get under their skin a little bit. Dallas finished above us so they’re probably favourite for a tie and they’re at home. We got nothing to lose. No one expects us to get in the playoffs except me and that group of players on the club. We had a quiet belief about us without an arrogance. We did and now who knows. Spin that wheel.” On telling players the Portland result: “I let them know at halftime to be fair. I said to the guys on Thursday, staff included, I wanted them to turn their phones off as soon as they came in. You know what young players are like. They come in and they’re on that Instagram and Twitter, and one of the smart-alecs said “well we play music on it” and I said “listen, I’m old, but not that old. I’m not stupid. Turn it off because if you don’t it’s a $500 fine.” It’s a bit harsh at the time and I’m sure a couple of them went home and thought about it, but I didn’t want their focus to move from our game, because it was a massive game for us where we needed to be 100 percent and concentrate. They’ve done that. I watched it in my office if I’m being honest, which wasn’t a good thing so I went out there and I thought they would win so I said to them, coming in, I think Nathan had said to me that they had won 2-nil, so I made the decision to let them know at halftime or not. I protected them, throughout the season, but I wanted them to know what we needed to do so I said to them, without telling them what happened, I said, “boys, we need to score a goal.” And they said right, and I think they understood, well I hope they understood that, because that’s certainly what happened, and we got the goal.” On importance of Kendall Waston to the team since coming to Vancouver: “I hoped he would, but I probably didn’t think it would happen this year. The plan was for next year, but he’s been an awesome signing. It’s a credit to him as well as character because the boys love him. He’s very aggressive, maybe too aggressive at times, but he’s a pleasure to work with.” Thoughts on putting Manneh in for Teibert then having to defend: “[Teibert] has got a bundle of energy, and he was playing well, but I wanted Kekuta to come on. So I tried to go as attacking as I could to hope to get that goal and as soon as we did, I’m looking and we’ve made all our subs, and I’m trying to drop Pedro deeper than Mauro so Pedro and Mauro were my two tough tackling midfielders once Rusty’s gone off, which is never going to be a good thing, but credit to them. We dug deep, because we had to dig deep, because I knew Colorado would come. They’re not going to roll over. They’ve got pride.” What factors lead to the postseason? “Credit to David and the back four players, but I’ve said all along that we defend from the front and we attack from the back. I knew what we had, what I had in there, that group of players, and we were lacking probably a goal scorer. We have players who can score goals, not probably enough goals for me. Like I said, we haven’t scored enough goals, but we’ve worked hard defensively, and we have to do that because as they all say, championships are won from the defence. I didn’t want to do that, but once the window closed, we decided to go that way, it just gave me the opportunity for me to give my younger players more time. I have to work with what I’ve got, which is why when they got criticized, I would never criticize them because they’re a brilliant group of lads and today was about them and I know what we lack. We’ll address that in the offseason to make the group strong because we’ve got a fantastic culture in there and they’ve really developed that.” KENDALL WASTON First thing going through his mind after he scored: “I was thanking God because it was a nice opportunity to score and thank him that I scored because we were working very hard from the beginning of the game. We knew we had to win today because Portland won so that was a big effort for all of my teammates. From the beginning we were working hard and looking forward to the win.” If he has scored a bigger goal in his career: “I think the biggest is going to be after, not today. So now we are just thinking of Dallas, and hopefully on Wednesday we do very good because we wanted to get in, in the playoffs.” If he know the goal was going to go in when he rose up for the header: “Yes because yesterday I was practicing with Pedro (Morales) after training and I knew he was kicking the ball in that spot. So I just tried to get a good distance from the guy who was defending me and hopefully I get there, and I could head it properly and get it in.” How he feels about the rise of Costa Rican soccer: “In my country this last year was good since the World Cup. I’m very happy for my country because that makes it get bigger in soccer. Personally, I try to be the best every day because I want to make history in this club. But now we are just thinking of Wednesday.” On having his wife watch the game today for the first time: “Very special because I had my wife and kid here to watch me. They’re always supporting me and today was a special day and thank God they’re here to watch it.” On the CONCACAF Champions League next season: “We got the notice that we’re in the Champions League for next year, that is good for us because we could play other tournaments, international tournaments that’s important to each player and it’s a good experience for us.” On the atmosphere in the stadium today: “Today was loud. Everything was pretty, and the supporters are like our 12th player for us. Without them we cannot play like this and hopefully we can win Wednesday so the semi-finals are here again.” DAVID OUSTED What was going through his head when he made a save during stoppage time: “Please catch it? Something like that. And please blow the whistle was the other thought. I’m ecstatic we got the win and are in the playoffs now. I think we deserve it, these last five or six games I think people reacted fantastically and we’ve shown we can play against the best and play good football.” On the strength of the Whitecaps’ defence: “I think we’re a hard team to score against. Now we need to score a couple of goals and it will all come together. But being hard to score against is really important going into a tough playoff.” What the mood was like going into the second half of the game: “Same as before the game. We knew we needed to win. I had the sense Portland was going to go there and make it hard for us and win. And they did. So credit to them. So we knew what we had to do. And I think the second half we did a professional job.” On what Kendall Waston has meant to the team: “Tremendous goal scorer. He’s just got a hunger and passion to get those balls and get his head on it so fantastic from the big man.” On the play of Sam Adekugbe: “So tough to come into this game, a high stakes game. But Sam showed all year he has the quality to be here.” On the play of Jordan Harvey: “We can put Jordan anywhere and he’ll do a solid and great job. And he showed that all year that he’s really reliable either side.” On the matchup against Dallas: “We had a decent performance a month ago. I think we have a chance to go there a win. They’re a good team and they’ve showed that, that’s why they’re in the playoffs but we have to go in and see if we can find our style of play there and get a win.” PEDRO MORALES How he’s feeling: “I feel so so happy, today was a difficult game. I think they played a complicated game. But in the second half I think we had more passion for the win. We had the motivation more. Kendall did a good job. I’m so happy for him, for the team, for the people here and for the fans. Now a good game in Dallas on Wednesday.” On the pressure building throughout the game: “I think there was so much pressure but I feel confidence in the team I think the people got more excited with Kekuta’s (Manneh) opportunity for a goal.” On the noise level from the crowd: “When we were coming here in halftime, the crowd was leading the way. I think in the second half the mentality changed maybe. But now we have a good game Wednesday and have a physical mentality. We need to find what’s necessary for the players, the team, and the fans. Today was very good for the fans.” COLORADO RAPIDS PABLO MASTROENI On how defensively sound his squad has been the last few matches: “I think, the last couple of games, we’ve really been working on our shape. I think, more importantly, Zat Knight has brought a tremendous amount of leadership, a tremendous amount of communication, and really has grabbed that back line by the scruff of its neck and really organized them really well and brought some of the young players along. Just a really pivotal player in that role that’s really shored up the back line and also made it easier for the guys in midfield.” On what he takes from the season: “The season was obviously long, but what I think you take away is that you go through fits of good form and fits of bad form, and what I think is most important is that you never lose the identity of who you are and who you want to be. As a Colorado Rapid for many years, I think the most important thing is representing who we are as Coloradoans. That’s working hard every day, bringing your lunch pail to work, believing in each other, working hard for your teammates, never giving in, and I think tonight was a performance that is reflective of the type of characters and personalities we’ll have next year, on the field in 2015. That’s the reflection of the club moving forward.” On the youth movement in Colorado and their roles moving forward: “I think, at times, they’ve carried more weight than they should have through the year, but they’ve always stepped up and played big. I think the experience that they’ve gained this year, especially in a game like tonight, with playoff implications for the opponents, who are at home, in a tough place to play, they raised their levels and really played well. I think these types of experiences are going to be invaluable for next year. I think, overall, they’ll continue to be focal points of our group and hopefully we’ll take a bit more burden off of them next year.” NICK LABROCCA Thoughts on the match: “I thought we battled, I thought it was a close game. I think our chances mostly came in the second half – we just kept plugging away, kept trying to play more and more, kept battling, and then the game started opening up for us. Then, they got their set piece goal.” On the Rapids’ defensive improvement over the past few games: “I feel like we got a little loose in the back, we exposed ourselves, and we weren’t playing together as a team. We opened too many gaps, so I think that’s what our focus was, but, at the same time, we’re going to defend as a team, we’re not just going to sit in, we’re going to press when we can.” On what they can take going into next season: “I think that this is all collective, I think, how we finished the last couple of games, we battled, we worked together, we worked for each other, and that’s what makes championship teams – not individuals. Individual performances win games, but that team cohesion, that team battle, that’s what wins championships.” DAVY ARMSTRONG Thoughts on the team’s performance: “I thought we battled. We didn’t get the outcomes we wanted to, but sometimes the game just doesn’t go our way. We were in the fight, we were in everything, it was just off of an unlucky set play. So, it was good.” On the team’s defensive improvement: “We’ve been working on being more compact, staying with the team, dropping whenever we see pressure coming, and just being smarter. We’re not really flying out there, just being compact as a team. So, we’ve been working on that, which has helped us a lot, and it’s just unlucky that we fight hard for so long and then we just give it up on just a half-second of a set play.” On the back line the outlook for next season: “We’ll just take the fight that we had towards the end of the season, refresh, and come back at it. We have a good team - youth that is good, compact, and strong together. We have a good bond with each other, and I feel like we’ll have that going into next season, which will be good for us.”
  2. Portland Timbers are in Honduras right now, all set to play CD Olimpia in their final CONCACAF Champions League group game. A win, a draw and even a narrow one goal defeat, will see the Timbers go through to the quarter finals, which even I will grudgingly acknowledge is quite an achievement for the great unwashed. Hopefully one the Caps themselves will at least emulate next season. Our Whitecaps Best Case Scenario week kicks off in Tegucigalpa (which looks like a horrible autocorrect gone wrong episode but actually isn't). What we want to see is threefold. First of all, we want to see the Timbers lose. Badly. Although I'll settle for 2-0. We don't want to see our Cascadian rivals win anything or any games, and especially not advance and get prestige in the Champions League. Secondly, we want to see a rough, tough battle. Lots of kicking taking it's toll in the best Honduras way. Let's leave some walking wounded for the Timbers ahead of Saturday's crucial clash at Dallas. And finally, we want to see horrible, strength sapping conditions for Portland, followed by some flight scheduling nightmares that delays their return to the US for as long as possible. A day later and the action moves to Utah, with Real Salt Lake winding up their season three days before any other team in MLS in a scheduling quirk forced by having an odd number of teams in the league. Now lets lay our cards out on the table right away. We want the Whitecaps to face RSL in the playoffs. I feel that not only is it the most winnable road game between the two options, but it's also a trip I will gladly make. Trying to get to Frisco for the Dallas game just doesn't appeal and I want to stay Ebola free! So whilst a Salt Lake loss or draw at home to Chivas on Wednesday would, on first reflection, be the ideal option for the outcome of this match, that's actually just what we don't want to happen from a Whitecaps point of view. Anything but a win for RSL will keep them firmly rooted below Dallas in fourth place in the West. The end result that we want but at the wrong possible time. Such an outcome would mean that Dallas have clinched third and avoided a first round playoff knockout game, all with one game to spare. That frees them up to play a weakened team in their last game of the regular season, resting some key players. Normally we wouldn't care but considering their opponents are Portland, we need Dallas to go into this game having to must win to secure that third spot, so that means we need RSL to get the three points on Wednesday night. So as we move into an exciting Saturday, that'll hopefully be two results down, three to go. And we first head a little bit closer to home, with all eyes on the Supporters' Shield showdown between Seattle Sounders and LA Galaxy at 11.30am on Saturday morning. A horrible time and a horrible match for us. The last thing I want is Seattle to win the Supporters' Shield, especially in front of their idiot fans. They'll be unbearable. Even more so than usual. But, sadly that's what we'll be rooting for - a Sounders win or draw. Why? I hear you scream. Well frankly, I'm looking ahead. When the Caps beat Real Salt Lake in the first round of the playoffs, who would you rather they face in the Western semi final? An LA side we've struggled to take one point from this season and one in which we simply can't seem to win at their gaff, or a Seattle side that are on Vancouver's mantelpiece? Let's keep LA for the Western Conference final, or even better still, hope that Dallas put them out before that point. Then we come to the real big one - Dallas v Portland. If our plan has gone well so far, then Dallas will head into this one needing to win to grab that third place (unless they want to avoid LA in the semis and see Seattle as the easier route too!). A draw wouldn't be a disaster as it would still leave the Whitecaps needing just one point of their own to claim the playoff berth, but we want a Dallas win. A victory that will seal Vancouver's fate with their own one game to spare. A Dallas win sends Vancouver into the postseason without doing anything and will mean that Carl Robinson can rest some key players, especially the ones like Harvey, Laba, Morales and Teibert who are all just one more booking away from suspension. Rest Rosales too and keep him fresh. The perfect situation for the Caps. Except, of course, they will have started their own game before Portland have finished, so that resting needs to come at half-time. Still a big boost though. But whatever happens in the Dallas-Portland game and whatever Vancouver need to get in that last game to secure the playoff spot, we want to see the team end with a win and some goals. The Caps need one of the strikers (and I don't care which one it is at this point) to catch fire, find the back of the net and head into the playoffs in form and full of confidence. So there's our dream next five days. Just to recap, we're looking to see.... - A Timbers collapse against CD Olimpia - A Honduran bloodbath - A Real Salt Lake win over Chivas - A Seattle Sounders win over LA Galaxy - A Dallas win over Portland - A Vancouver win over Colorado - Another final game hat-trick from a Caps striker A lucky seven? Let's hope the footballing gods are looking down in our favour.
  3. Carl Robinson has already indicated that the Honduran will get the start for Waston, ahead of other choices Christian Dean and Carlyle Mitchell. It's a bit of a downgrade on Waston in terms of aerial presence, but then who wouldn't be?! Leveron though bring a calm, steady and usually reliable mindset to the backline. Just what the Caps could be needing in what could be a night of hot heads in Northern California. "He's ready, he's fine," Robinson said of Leveron's return to the team. "Johnny lost his place, not because he was playing poorly but because he went away with the national team, so sometimes you get penalised for being a top quality player unfortunately. "He was playing probably as well as he's played in the last two years. Unfortunately he picked up an injury, he's come back and Andy and Kendall have done great. "Kendall being suspended is a big loss for us. Johnny is a different kind of player but I've got no worries about him stepping in. He'll be confident as always, he'll defend right and hopefully he can fit in with the team we're going to pick." There is no doubting that Vancouver will miss Waston's presence, as I covered over on MLSsoccer.com earlier in the week, but having an international player like Leveron at your disposal to replace him, is a nice luxury for Robinson to have at this key stage of the season. It may not feel like it, but Leveron has made only three fewer appearances (15 in total) for the Whitecaps this season than he did last year. Robinson had been keen to keep as settled a side as possible down the stretch. Sometimes his hand is forced, but having that settled backline the last couple of games has been important. Leveron now has to come in, readjust and settle back into the swing of things pretty quickly, with a lot on the line. The man that will be directly behind him, goalkeeper David Ousted, is unconcerned about the enforced change. "The continuity's nice and you get to learn the people in there," Ousted admitted. "But Johnny's a good player and Johnny's shown before that he can go in and fill that spot. Like I said last week with Seba out, where's there's people out, others need to step up and Johnny has to step up now and we know he can do that." His centre half partner Andy O'Brien has been getting used to partner swapping these past two seasons, but O'Brien and Leveron have played multiple games together now and know each other's game inside out. "I played with Johnny before so hopefully we can get back in the groove we had prior to Kendall coming in," O'Brien told reporters at training. "That's what we've done well in recent weeks, the relationships across the whole team. Not only in the 11 that have started but the whole 18 squad and the guys that are not involved. They may have played together before, but defenders get a familiarity built up with each other. How they're going to play and move and pass. O'Brien has had that with Waston over the last eight games, so what kind of extra challenge does having to adjust to a new partner pose for the veteran? "It is different," O'Brien admitted to AFTN. "They're very different players in terms of their style. As I've said before, it sometimes isn't who you're playing with but who you're playing against and what do you need to do to counteract what they're doing. "I think there's a real team ethic that even if you're marking but you can intercept the ball, don't think you're happy enough just doing your job. Guys are filling in and there's been times where I've been playing a little bit higher than I normally would do, but guys are filling in. Whether it be a full back or whether it be Rusty, and likewise if strikers drop short the pocket in front of us is getting well protected in terms of the defensive screening. "Sometimes you have to do other people's jobs and I think a lot of the guys are doing that and when they are doing that, other lads are filling in, so it's working well." Exactly how much the Caps will be tested by the Quakes tonight is the unknown commodity. San Jose are a bit of a shambles of a team at the moment. A 13 game winless streak, two goals in their last four games, they've just sacked their manager and looked woefully out of form the last couple of matches. Can they find the scoresheet no matter who is playing in the defence? Can the Caps? 0-0 would do the job! There's always a danger going in to a game like this that last weeks heroics against Seattle could lead to a flatter performance against a weaker team. We have seen it all season from Vancouver. Having the pressure of knowing that they have to come away with at least a point is another factor as well. Robinson knows the pitfalls and admits to a little apprehension. "For me, this is a more difficult game than against Seattle away," Robinson told reporters. "At Seattle, no-one expects anything from us, obviously everybody expects us to go there [to San Jose] and get a result. But all the information we're getting out of San Jose is that they've nothing to lose. They're fighting for contracts those players. Dominic's going to be going in for next season, so they're going to be wanting to prove a point to him." The Whitecaps themselves would no doubt settle for a point tonight. But if they can get all three, then next week is set to be a barnstorming season finale. To get there, the defence will likely be the key. So keep calm and Leveron.
  4. If the Timbers get chopped down at home to RSL, then a victory at Buck Shaw Stadium, where they haven’t won in four attempts, would see the Whitecaps in the playoffs with a game to spare. A game where they can either try and keep momentum going against a defensively woeful Colorado side, maybe even grabbing some confidence boosting goals in the process, or rest up some key or close to suspension players like Pedro Morales. A Portland point against Salt Lake, would see them jump ahead of Vancouver on the tiebreakers, but the ‘Caps would then just need at least one point of their own against the Earthquakes to claim it back a day later. A Portland win (we don’t really even want to consider that option), would mean Vancouver falling back out of the playoff places and sitting two points behind the Timbers. But fear not, because matching the Timbers’ result, no matter what, see them back above the red line. Not getting anything out of this scenario is simply unthinkable. For all that Vancouver want their focus to be solely about themselves, Portland have perhaps an equal part to play in the whole race to the playoffs. "I said we couldn't look at Portland too much, we're little bit forced to look at them now," goalkeeper David Ousted told us at training this week. "It's about us finishing the job. "Win, draw or lose for Portland, we still need to go and get hopefully two wins to push our way in there. If we get two wins, it doesn't matter what Portland does. If we can focus on that, it's going to be easier for us. If they lose points, then good for us and we don't have to maybe make a win too, but still, we need to push our way in there and not hope that Portland loses." Carl Robinson has preached for weeks that all that matters is taking care of their own business and it doesn't matter what anybody else does if the Caps can't do their own job. He has shifted from that stand with two games to go, but him and his squad will most certainly be watching Friday's Portland result with keen interest. "I think my players will generally watch [Portland's] results," Robinson told us. "I watched them on Wednesday night [against San Jose]. We beat Dallas 2-0 and suddenly we were in a decent position and then they followed up with a result and then they followed up again with another result and then apparently the pressure was on us. "I just said to the guys, 'listen, it doesn't matter what anybody else does, we've just got to concentrate on ourselves' and we did on Friday [against Seattle] and we won the game. It changes every week and every game that goes on, a different result changes the dynamic of the playoff race. "If we win two games we're in. I'm trying to make it as simple as possible for them [the players]. Obviously I'll look at their result Friday and watch their game, because I love watching games of football, and if they win, then it puts a little bit of pressure on us. If they don't win it puts pressure on us because we need to get our result."
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