Vancouver Whitecaps FC #2 Jordan Harvey ( C ) #9 Kerry Miller ( R ) and #31 Russell Teibert ( L ) celebrate the Whitecaps first goal against the Houston Dynamo in a regular season MLS soccer game at BC Place, Vancouver, March 29 2014.
Photograph by: Gerry Kahrmann, PNG
The Vancouver Whitecaps remain unbeaten in Major League Soccer play after goals from Jordan Harvey and Kenny Miller carried the club to a well-earned 2-1 win Saturday over the Houston Dynamo in front of a sellout crowd of 21,000 at BC Place.
Whitecaps man of the match Pedro Morales dominated the team’s attack, showing the same offensive flair and pinpoint long-range passing ability that wowed Caps supporters in his 25-minute MLS debut three weeks ago.
Harvey opened the scoring in the 14th minute after the Whitecaps defender ran onto a well-placed header into the box from Andy O’Brien, who registered his first point ever as a Whitecaps player in his 29th appearance for the club.
The play was set up by an excellent long cross into the area from Morales, the sixth designated player in club history who seems to be growing more comfortable in his new surroundings since joining the team from Spanish side Malaga just 24 days ago.
Miller made it 2-0 for the Whitecaps in the 58th minute after converting a penalty kick that came after a dangerous Darren Mattocks run into the Dynamo box. Houston defender Kofi Sarkodie – a former teammate of Mattocks at Akron University – was guilty of a hand ball on the play.
The goal came after a threatening spell of play from the Dynamo, including a close-in chance from Houston captain Brad Davis that went just over the bar.
Houston pulled a goal back in the 75th minute after midfielder Ricardo Clark got his head on the end of a long free kick from Davis, who’s known for his deadly set pieces.
Caps head coach Carl Robinson brought on speed merchant Kekuta Manneh for the final 15 minutes in a clear effort to attack, instead of defending a one-goal lead.
The strategy nearly paid off, like it did when Manneh scored a late goal against Chivas USA two weeks ago, as the 19-year-old forward caused fits for Dynamo defenders in creating several scoring chances.
Robinson said Morales was a joy to watch.
“I think he’s a joy to play with as well,” he said. “He makes players better around him. He just gives us a different dimension in our team and when he’s on the field, we play a little bit more.”
Morales showed a lot of confidence and didn’t hesitate to attempt a 40 or 50-yard pass if it seemed like the play to make.
“Sometimes I see a play kind of develop in my mind and I try and make the pass but I’m under a little bit of pressure sometimes and it doesn’t work sometimes,” the Chilean midfielder said with the assistance of a translator. “Whenever I receive the ball, I like to keep my head up and look at my other teammates to see who’s open and available.”
Mattocks was very much involved in the play for the 65 minutes of action he saw before being replaced by Sebastian Fernandez.
Better luck and better skill might have seen the speedy Jamaican score at least twice but he seemed snakebitten, especially on a second-half chance when he broke in on Dynamo ‘keeper Tally Hall but his second touch on the ball let him down.
“I’m not worrying about the chances – they’re coming but they’re just not going into the back of the net,” Mattocks said. “The club is moving in the right direction and that’s key. It’s not about Darren getting chances. It’s about winning as a club.”
The Caps now have two home wins and two road draws after four games, equalling the club’s best start to an MLS season after four games, set two years ago.
Houston suffered its first loss of the young season, with its record falling to two wins and one loss.
SIDE KICKS: The Whitecaps honoured iconic Korean defender Young-Pyo Lee before the match. Lee – whose career included stints with Tottenham, Borussia Dortmund and 127 appearances for the Korean national team – retired last year after spending the final two seasons of his career as the Caps’ starting right back.
© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun