The sold-out BC Place crowd sure got their money’s worth in this one.
Gershon Koffie and Cristian Techera’s first goals of the season carried Vancouver Whitecaps FC (7W-5L-2D) to a thrilling 2-1 win over Real Salt Lake (4W-5L-5D) on Saturday afternoon in their final home match until mid-July.
And the boisterous home fans couldn’t have asked for a better send-off. This one just about had it all: spectacular saves, wonder goals, and most importantly three points for the Blue and White.
It was a dominant performance from the ‘Caps and a night to remember for Koffie. The Ghanaian midfielder was named the Budweiser Man of the Match after scoring a first-half stunner in his 100th MLS regular season start – all of which have come with Whitecaps FC.
The shiny new BC Place turf was the main talking point heading into this one, but that quickly changed once the game got underway. Vancouver put on a show in the first half, outshooting RSL 12-5 and creating several quality chances.
Techera and Morales both had early chances and centre back Kendall Waston came close on a pair of headers, but it was Koffie who opened the scoring. After hitting the crossbar just a few minutes earlier, the Ghanaian blasted in a half volley from distance in the 36th minute to give Whitecaps FC the lead.
It was all Vancouver in the first half – until the 45th minute, that is. Just before halftime, RSL’s Javier Morales curled in a perfectly taken free kick to draw the game level with a wonder strike of his own.
RSL rode the momentum of that goal early in the second half. The visitors came out of the break on the front foot and created a few half-chances, but the ‘Caps didn’t back down.
In the 60th minute, Matias Laba played a perfect ball over the top to Rivero, who got in behind only to see his right-footed strike stopped by a diving Nick Rimando.
Whitecaps FC goalkeeper David Ousted answered the call just a few minutes later, making a spectacular diving save off a Elias Vasquez header.
From there, the ‘Caps began to take over once more.
And the 79th minute, they scored the eventual winner when Techera alertly picked off an errant Vasquez back pass and tapped it into the gaping net.
With the win, Whitecaps FC move back into a tie for the top spot in the Western Conference with 23 points from their first 14 matches.
The ‘Caps now hit the road for five straight matches, starting Wednesday against Montreal Impact (5 p.m. on TSN1/5). Meanwhile, WFC2 are back at UBC Thunderbird Stadium on Sunday, hosting former ‘Caps striker Long Tan and Arizona United SC at 2 p.m.
Budweiser Man of the Match: Gershon Koffie
Referee: Jair Marrufo