VANCOUVER, Canada — Just 16,138 attended the Vancouver Whitecaps’ 1-0 defeat against last season’s MLS Cup champion Atlanta United at BC Place.
On the pitch, the Vancouver Whitecaps had the majority of the play throughout the first 15 minutes. The Caps had 69 percent possession at one point, but it was the Five Stripes that produced the first chance when Jeff Larentowicz missed the goal inside the box in the 16th minute.
Atlanta also produced the next chance in the 27th minute. Josef Martínez danced through Vancouver’s backline, played a one-two with Brek Shea, but his shot was kept out by Maxime Crépeau.
Almost on the same sequence of play, Atlanta was awarded a penalty. A pass into the box found Gonzalo Martínez open, Lass Bangoura rushed back and stumbled into Gonzalo Martínez. Referee Baldomero Toledo pointed to the spot, and Josef Martínez made it 1-0 for the guests in the 30th minute.
“It was a very clumsy penalty to give away,” Marc Dos Santos said. “That is very frustrating. I don’t have a clue on how I am going to deal with that,” Dos Santos added.
Five minutes later, fans in the Southside walked out again in the 35th minute. The supporter groups’ fourth walk-out continued their support of 14 women who have made allegations of sexual misconduct conduct by a former Whitecaps women’s team coach back in 2008. As a result, what had already been a poor atmosphere following the goal scored by Gonzalo Martínez got even worse.
It did not help either that the Whitecaps seemingly struggled to find a solution against this very well organized Atlanta United side.
“Look they were very well organized and made it difficult to find a way through,” Whitecaps midfielder Andy Rose said.
Even though the Caps dominated possession, it was almost like they did not know what to do with the ball, and they did not have a single shot inside the box in the first half.
In the 57th minute, the Whitecaps produced their first shot on net. Bangoura moved the ball through midfield and tested Atlanta keeper Brad Guzan with a shot from 25 yards.
On the other end, Atlanta should have doubled the lead in the 59th minute.
Maxime Crépeau, however, produced an incredible dribble stop to keep first Héctor Villalba, then Gonzalo Martínez and Eric Remedi off the scoresheet. Then in the 67th minute, Crépeau produced another stop, keeping out a Josef Martínez header.
“I just tried to close the ankle the well,” Crépeau said about the stop. “I just tried to keep the game close.
“Yeah it was the second game in a row that I have seen a bit more of the ball than usual.”
“That is why we have Max, but what would have been the score if they don’t have Villalba and Josef Martinez?” Dos Santos said. “Max has kept us in the game and that is with the Whitecaps.”
⚽️#VWFC boss possession but are ineffective
⚽️#ATLUTD stifle Caps
⚽️Crépeau another #CanMNT shout
— Manuel Veth (@ManuelVeth) May 16, 2019
In the 77th minute, Ali Adnan collided with Julian Gressel. The minimal contact between the two was enough for Gressel to go to the ground and Toledo to trod over to the VAR area to review the play. After several minutes of review, Toledo waved play on.
What about goalscoring opportunities for the Whitecaps? Kept out of the box by Atlanta, it took until the 81st minute for Vancouver to finally produce a couple of chances.
Both times it was Joaquín Ardaiz, who had come on for Felipe, to get into the danger areas. In the 81st minute, he was a step too late to tap home a chance inside the 6-yard box, and then in the 83rd minute had a shot inside the box deflected.
“I just think that overall Atlanta in their defensive structure did a very good job,” Dos Santos said.
In the end, Vancouver struggled to find a way through a very well organized Atlanta defense. And in the end, it was only because of goalkeeper Crépeau that the scoreline remained close until the end of the game.
Vancouver Whitecaps (4-3-3)
Crépeau – Adnan, Henry, Godoy, Nerwinski – Teibert (Rose, 69′), Felipe (Ardaiz, 78′), In-beom – Bangoura (PC, 65′), Montero, Venuto
Atlanta United (4-2-3-1)
Guzan – Shea, Pogba, Pirez, Escobar – Larentowicz, Remedi – Meram (Gressel, 63′), Pity Martínez (Robinson, 82′), Villalba (Pereira, 69′) – J. Martínez