Vancouver Whitecaps FC are into the CONCACAF Champions League win column. A first-half goal from Canadian midfielder Kianz Froese carried the ‘Caps to a 1-0 win over Honduran side C.D. Olimpia on Wednesday night at BC Place.
The victory, Vancouver’s first ever in CCL play, moves Whitecaps FC into a tie with Seattle Sounders FC for the top spot in Group F with four points.
As expected, Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson fielded a young side on Wednesday – the MLS-leading ‘Caps have an important league fixture against Seattle on Saturday. However, Robinson did give Matías Laba and Kendall Waston the nod in the starting lineup.
And they both came up big – Waston ate up everything in the air and racked up a game-high 14 clearances. This was a perfect game for the Costa Rican, who wore the captain’s armband for the first time, because it was a physical affair from the outset.
Waston was involved in several aerial battles, Honduran Deybi Flores delivered a few crunching tackles, while Laba and Nicolás Mezquida both went down on hard fouls from the reigning Honduran champions.
There was some good soccer on display, too.
The two teams traded early chances – Robert Earnshaw went for a bicycle in the ninth minute and Olimpia hit the crossbar on a headed free kick in the 11th – but Whitecaps FC looked the more likely side to score as the half went on.
And they did just that in the 42nd minute.
It was a nice build-up, as Mezquida played a throughball to Darren Mattocks. Olimpia goalkeeper Noel Valladeres rushed off his line to disrupt the Jamaican, but a lively Froese chipped in the deflection to give Whitecaps FC the advantage.
The ‘Caps had a few chances to double their lead late in the first half and early in the second, but simply couldn’t find the back of the net. They came close again in the 90th minute, when Earnshaw tried to chip the Olimpia keeper from close range before Marco Bustos fired the rebound just wide of the goal.
At the other end of the pitch, Olimpia put on some pressure in the dying stages, but Whitecaps FC – who concluded the match with six defenders and three Residency products on the pitch – managed to hold on for the victory.
The MLS-leading ‘Caps now return to MLS play on Saturday, when they host Seattle Sounders FC with the Cascadia Cup up for grabs. Seattle and Vancouver will then meet again four days later in CCL play at CenturyLink Field.
The winner of that match will finish atop the group and advance to the quarter-finals – Whitecaps FC could also advance with both a draw against Seattle next week and a win or a draw in the Group F finale at Olimpia on October 22.
Referee: Jeffrey Solis
Man of the Match: Kianz Froese