Heading into week 10 of the Major League Soccer season, the Vancouver Whitecaps had scored just seven goals. But Friday, the Caps finally found their goalscoring touch in a 3-2 victory over the Colorado Rapids.
Fredy Montero finally finds net from open play
Goalscoring had been a major issue all season, and going into the game, the Whitecaps had scored just three goals from open play. And Montero, who was signed to provide the majority of the goals this season, faced criticism after scoring just one goal this season.
Montero’s only goal came from a penalty. That penalty was also the only time he put a shot on target. As a result, he was benched for the previous game against the Philadelphia Union.
Yordy Reyna’s injury, however, gave Montero another chance and the Colombian delivered. Montero scored one goal and assisted Lucas Venuto’s goal that made it 2-0 for the Whitecaps.
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) May 4, 2019
“I did my best. That is what I do throughout my whole career, and I just need to get those goals, you know. I believe in myself that if I have the opportunities I can score goals,” Montero said after the game.
VAR strikes again
The Whitecaps have had trouble with the Video Assistant Referee system all season long, and against Colorado, VAR once again played a role. Up by two goals, the Whitecaps gave away the lead and seemingly three points thanks to two penalty goals scored by former Whitecaps striker Kei Kamara.
“Both us and Colorado were in a fragile moment of the season. Then Acosta got the penalty call, and it was a penalty shot, then it was 2-1. It brings a bit of instability,” Whitecaps head coach Marc Dos Santos said about the penalty and what it meant for the result.
At that stage, the Colorado Rapids were back in the game — and were soon awarded another penalty.
“I trust that if the ref went to VAR that it is [a penalty],” Dos Santos said in a diplomatic tone when speaking about the second decision.
To make matters worse, the Caps also saw a goal chalked off after VAR determined Andy Rose was offside just ahead of Lass Bangoura’s goal. It was already the eighth time the Whitecaps have been involved in a crucial VAR decision this season.
Whitecaps did not falter in altitude
The Whitecaps did not falter after giving away a 2-0 lead and having a goal waved off.
“Once again, you are involved in a game that you are in control and you are up 2-0, and then it is 2-2,” Dos Santos said. “Then we score a third, and once again VAR and it is offside. You have two groups of players, a group that after the second call gets mentally hurt and down or a group that continues, goes for it. That is what we did.”
The Whitecaps did all of this while playing at altitude in Denver.
“It is difficult. Altitude is not easy for teams that come from sea level to play at this level. But for us, it was all about staying in the game,” Montero added.
“Three points were very important today,” Rose added. “We can’t get too carried away by this. You need to be able to come to tough places and get three points in MLS.”
Although Colorado has struggled all season, the Whitecaps once again battling adversity and wining at altitude is a step in the right direction overall.
But Dos Santos was quick to point out the win in Colorado is only a small step.
“Now, can we do this again? Can we do this two, three, four times in a row?” he said. “That’s what we want as a club.”