These two teams should meet more often.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC (4W-1L-1D) came back from two separate deficits to earn a 2-2 draw with Columbus Crew SC (1W-2L-1D) in an entertaining midweek affair at BC Place.
Crew SC striker Kei Kamara scored twice for the visitors but the ‘Caps responded each time through Octavio Rivero’s league-leading fifth goal of the season and Darren Mattocks’ first of the year. Mattocks, who was named Budweiser Man of the Match, also added an assist in his first start of the year.
There was no shortage of action in this one. It was an end-to-end affair that saw Whitecaps FC control over 60 per cent of possession and outshoot their Eastern Conference opponents by a 22-15 margin.
The ‘Caps, who are now unbeaten in five matches, came close to scoring a late winner but settled for a single point for a total of 13, increasing their lead atop the MLS standings.
One of the big questions heading into Wednesday’s contest was how much would Carl Robinson tinker with his starting lineup. On the one hand, Whitecaps FC were coming off a dominant performance against LA Galaxy, but Wednesday’s match was also their second of three in the span of a week.
With that in mind, Robinson decided to make two changes. Fresh off a two-match suspension, centre back Diego Rodriguez drew back into the team in place of Pa-Modou Kah, while Mattocks replaced Kekuta Manneh on the left wing. Rodriguez’s night didn’t last long though, as the Uruguayan left with the match with a tight quad in the 15th minute.
The ‘Caps controlled possession in the early going, but Columbus lined up in a defensive setup and caused some problems on the counter.
They had the first real chance in the ninth minute, when Justin Meram got on the end of a Ben Speas cross and sent a right-footed strike just wide of the far post, and opened the scoring in the 24th minute through Kamara. After a blocked cross, the veteran striker side-footed it in past a sprawling David Ousted to give Columbus an early advantage.
Robinson’s side responded well though and leveled the score just five minute later. It was once again Rivero who did the damage. The 23-year-old Uruguayan shielded the ball well after receiving a heads-up Mattocks throw-in, before turning and putting away a sliding right-footed finish from inside the area.
Both sides had chances to take the lead in the final 15 minutes, but entered the break knotted at one.
To their credit, Columbus regained the lead in the 50th minute through Kamara’s second goal of the match. This time, he tapped in a Justin Meram cross from close range to put the visiting Crew SC up 2-1.Both sides had chances to take the lead in the final 15 minutes, but entered the break knotted at one.
But this one was far from over.
Robinson brought on Manneh in the 57th minute and the youngster injected some life into the ‘Caps attack. Less than a minute after entering the match, Manneh made a run down the right and picked out Pedro Morales at the top of the box. The Chilean smashed a first-time strike but Crew SC goalkeeper Steve Clark was there to make the save.
Just a few minutes later, Matias Laba came within inches of tying the game with a well-taken volley from the top of the box that sailed just high.
The ‘Caps kept coming though and got their equalizer in the 64th minute. Kah started the play with a great ball over the top to Manneh, who then ran past his defender before laying it off to Mattocks. And the Jamaican international made no mistake, finishing from in tight to bring the game level.
From there, it was all Vancouver.
They created several chances in the dying stages, including a Mattocks post that came just a minute after his equalizer, but Columbus held on to secure the draw.
After three straight home matches, Whitecaps FC are back on the road this Saturday for their first meeting of the year with San Jose Earthquakes. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at the new Avaya Stadium (TSN2 and TSN 1410 radio).
Budweiser Man of the Match: Darren Mattocks
Referee: Drew Fischer