It was an auspicious start Wednesday for the Vancouver Whitecaps against the Montreal Impact at Saputo Stadium. Yordy Reyna gave the ‘Caps the lead in the 17th minute.
Then in the 22nd minute, the Whitecaps were awarded a penalty. Impact keeper Evan Bush parried the attempt, but new signing Tosaint Ricketts put away the rebound. At least that is what everyone at Saputo believed. But the video assistant referee (VAR) determined that Bush had left his line too early and that Ricketts had entered the box too early.
Once again Reyna stepped up, and once again Bush stopped the penalty this time without allowing a rebound. It was a decision that had Vancouver head coach Marc Dos Santos fuming after the game.
“It was horrendous,” Dos Santos said about the VAR decision. “The game is changing. I fell in love with another game. This game is robotic. One day there’s not going to be players on the field. I think Playstation on TV is gonna sell more than the real games.”
“The key point in the game is that penalty shot situation that I totally disagreed with,” Dos Santos added. “It’s a huge mistake these calls are not called, there’s no chance it’s called back in Atlanta, in Seattle, in LA. No chance, but it’s called right now.
“It needs to be clear and obvious to be called back, and for the official to call it back it’s ridiculous.”
Until the retake of the penalty, Vancouver was in the driver’s seat and with a second goal would have likely walked away as the clear winner from Saputo Stadium on Wednesday. Instead, the Whitecaps fell, 2-1.
Aug 28, 2019; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Impact forward Maximiliano Urruti (37) celebrates his goal against Vancouver Whitecaps with teammates during the first half at Stade Saputo. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports
Vancouver control the game but fail to score
“Apart from the goals from Montreal, there was good control from our side,” Dos Santos said. “It was a good response from San Jose coming here. There was fluidity, there was possession and good personality in the team.”
The statistics back Dos Santos up. Vancouver finished the game with 61.1% possession, and the ‘Caps completed 87% of their 550 passes. In comparison, Montreal managed to complete just 81% of their 340 passes. Furthermore, the Whitecaps finally managed to get balls into the danger area and managed to achieve 79% of their final third passes.
Ricketts is actually looking pretty good tonight. That said that is the first time this season that a striker is actually getting some good through the channel passes. Could be his movement but also the #VWFC midfield setup that has completed 81% of final third passes. #MTLvVAN pic.twitter.com/XGNZLqS3Nq
— Manuel Veth (@ManuelVeth) August 29, 2019
A big part of the Whitecaps’ success in getting into the final third was Ricketts’ movement off the ball.
The 32-year-old veteran managed to find the spaces left by Montreal’s defense and was responsible for his team’s most dangerous moments. Unfortunately, for the Whitecaps, however, Ricketts could not convert any of his open play chances.
Ali Adnan’s defensive problems
On the other side, Montreal was more effective. Twice they found the space on the left flank to create goals and both times Whitecaps’ Designated Player Ali Adnan was absent.
Ahead of Doneil Henry’s own goal in the 35th minute, Adnan was pushed too far up the field. As a result, Derek Cornelius had to move out to the left, which in turn left Henry alone in the center of the box where his rescue attempt led to the equalizer.
Montreal’s second goal two minutes later also originated from the left flank. This time Yordy Reyna was forced to defend out wide against Bacary Sagna, whose cross was converted by Maximiliano Urruti while Adnan, almost disinterested, jogged into the penalty box.
The Whitecaps signed Adnan to a multi-million dollar DP contract at the end of his loan-deal from Udinese in July. Adnan has highlighted that he can be an impact player in MLS, but against Montreal, his defensive positioning may have cost the ‘Caps three points.