Vancouver Whitecaps 1, Colorado Rapids 0 | MLS Match Recap
VANCOUVER, B.C. – The Vancouver Whitecaps kicked off their final match of the regular season, at home to the Colorado Rapids on Saturday evening, almost certainly in need of a win to clinch their place in the playoffs. Ten minutes in and it became official, and it took another hour yet before 'Caps fans could exhale.
With the pressure on, the Whitecaps made hard work of their encounter with the already-eliminated Rapids before finally rising to the occasion with a 70th-minute winner from Kendall Waston as Vancouver got a 1-0 win to take them into the postseason.
The win confirmed Vancouver's fifth-place finish in the Western Conference and sees them end the season with 50 points in MLS play, a club record, thanks to their 12-8-14 mark on the season. Colorado (8-18-8; 32 points) must now await the results of tomorrow's Chivas USA-San Jose match to find out whether they will finish seventh or eighth in the West.
It was a scrappy first half in which Vancouver controlled the run of play but couldn't find the telling pass to set up any clear goalscoring chances.
Sebastian Fernandez had the Whitecaps' best chance of the half in the 29th minute, when he skipped through the Rapids defense, but Clint Irwin was out quickly to close down the Uruguayan before he could get a clean shot off.
With the half in stoppage time, Charles Eloundou broke down the right wing for Colorado, cutting inside at the edge of the box and unleashing a fierce low shot that David Ousted had to turn around the post.
The teams went in scoreless as the tension rose at BC Place, but the introduction of substitute Kekuta Manneh raised Whitecaps' spirits and nearly the roof when he crashed a shot off the bar in the 58th minute.
Pedro Morales was next to come close for Vancouver, making room for himself at the edge of the box before firing narrowly over with his left foot in the 69th minute.
The chance brought the Vancouver crowd to their feet and the energy continued to rise 'Caps won a corner moments later. Waston did not disappoint on his return from a one-game suspension, rising over two Rapids defenders to power home the winning goal off Morales' pinpoint service.
Substitute Erik Hurtado nearly wrapped things up for Vancouver with 15 minutes remaining when Morales played him in, but Irwin stood tall and produced a fine leg save.
It wasn't to matter, and although Colorado had a couple of late chances including a stoppage-time volley by Gabriel Torres, Ousted held firm for his 13th clean sheet of the season and a Whitecaps victory.
Vancouver now head to Dallas for their Knockout Round matchup on Wednesday, with the top-seeded Seattle Sounders awaiting the winner. With Colorado's season now over, the Rapids will have over four months to regroup and rebuild for what already looks to be an even more competitive Western Conference playoff battle next season.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Kendall Waston||A beast at the back and in front of the opposition goal, and one of the key components to Vancouver's late push.|
|2||Pedro Morales||Kept the attack going at a good tempo, picked up an assist off great set piece service, and created the team's best chances in the second half.|
|3||David Ousted||Got the shutout and made five saves in the process, include two key stops in the waning moments.|