Aug 18, 2018; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; New York Red Bulls defender Kemar Lawrence (92) defends against Vancouver Whitecaps midfielder Alphonso Davies (67) during the first half at BC Place. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports
VANCOUVER — Vancouver Whitecaps captain Kendall Waston scored twice to overturn an early New York lead. But ultimately it was Daniel Royer’s second goal, a dramatic late-game equalizer for the New York Red Bulls, that provided the true heroics in a 2-2 draw in front of 22,120 spectators at BC Place Saturday.
Following a heavy defeat to Toronto FC midweek in the Canadian Championship final, Whitecaps coach Carl Robinson once again experimented with his lineup. He opted for an offensive 4-2-2-2 setup, the same tactics that left the Whitecaps exposed at times midweek in Toronto.
Furthermore, he started Brett Levis, who had seen little time previously, at left back and Efraín Juárez in central midfield. The Mexican had not played a competitive match since being shown a red card against Seattle on July 21.
Levis’ lack of playing time showed early on when he gave Bradley Wright-Phillips too much space on the left. The forward was able to curve a cross into the Whitecaps penalty area, where Waston and Aaron Maund both failed to clear the ball, which fell right to Royer. The Austrian then made no mistake, tapping the ball home from close distance.
Vancouver (9-9-7) was almost shellshocked from the early deficit. The Red Bulls (15-6-3) had little problems containing the Caps, who produced just two chances in the first half. Yordy Reyna tested Luis Robles with a short-range effort after a beautiful one-two with Brek Shea in the 20th minute and Shea led one fly from outside the box in the 35th minute.
When tactics fail you sometimes you need a standard situation to get you back in the game. That is precisely what happened for Vancouver. In the 42nd minute, Waston rose higher than all Red Bulls defenders to head home a Reyna corner.
“We were lucky that it was 1-1 at halftime”, Robinson said. “Our first half performance was awful.”
Vancouver’s biggest problem in the first half was stringing together the midfield and defense. It was, therefore, no surprise that Robinson subbed of Juárez at halftime, bringing on Russell Teibert in his stead.
Teibert helped the Caps control the midfield better in the second half as they began to overturn the result. Nonetheless, it was the Red Bulls that almost took the lead in the 48th minute.
A free kick cross from the left found Aaron Long, who headed the ball to the center of the area to Alex Muyl. His header, however, was tipped to the crossbar by keeper Stefan Marinović. What followed was a rugby-like scrum in which no New York player could get the ball across the line.
Everything was going entirely the Red Bulls’ way until Waston made it 2-1 out of the blue. Once again, the defender rose higher than everyone else following a Whitecaps corner to give the Caps the lead on the hour mark.
Adding to that, Red Bulls fullback Michael Murillo was sent off on a second yellow card after the defender elbowed Davies on a breakaway six minutes from full time.
With a man more on the pitch, the Whitecaps could have simply seen out the game. Instead they were stung by Royer’s equalizer.
“We need to do better after set pieces”, Robinson lamented after Royer scored his second to make it 2-2 in the 89th minute with a close-range effort after a long free kick cross.
“In the end we have one point on the board now,” Robinson said. “Given the first half, I take the point.”
Vancouver Whitecaps (4-2-2-2)
Marinović – Levis (Mezquida, 66′), Maund, Waston, Nerwinski – Juárez (Teibert, 46′), Felipe – Shea, Davies – Reyna, Hurtado (Kamara, 75′)
New York Red Bulls (4-2-3-1)
Robles – Lawrence, Long, Parker, Murillo (Sent off 85′) – Adams, Davis (White, 82′) – Royer, Kaku (Ivan, 72′), Muyl (Etienne, 63′) – Wright-Phillips