The group stage of the 2016-17 CONCACAF Champion’s League is a wrap.
On Wednesday evening in front of a sparse announced crowd of 17,038 fans at BC Place stadium, the Vancouver Whitecaps underlined their dominance of Group ‘C’ with an impressive 4-1 victory over Trinidadian club Central FC.
The big win over Central helped the Whitecaps secure the second seed in their bracket for the CCL quarterfinals. The next round of games are scheduled to played in February 2017.
1. The Bug is back
Winger Cristian ‘El Bicho (the Bug)’ Techera had an impressive first season for the Whitecaps in 2015. This year Techera has struggled and has not been the offensive threat that he was last year.
Prior to Wednesday evening the goals and assists for Techera had largely dried up, and the diminutive Uruguayan has found often himself relegated to the substitutes bench.
Against Central FC, however, El Bicho was on fire and finished the night with two goals and two assists. Techera started quickly setting up teammate Blas Pérez in the eleventh minute to open the scoring.
Techera scored his first goal of the night shortly thereafter, converting the spot kick after Pérez was fouled in front of the Central FC goal.
— THE CHAMPIONS (@TheChampions) September 29, 2016
In the second half Techera provided the service for Masato Kudo’s goal in the forty-ninth minute, and capped a sublime performance with his second goal of the night in the seventieth minute.
The 2016 MLS season may be one that Techera would like to put behind him as quickly as possible. His four-point outing against Central FC, however, may just be exactly what El Bicho needed to get his mojo back.
2. The A-Team?
Apart from goalkeeper Paolo Tornaghi and defender Brett Levis, the starting XI had a very MLS look to it.
Tim Parker and Kendall Waston were anchoring the backline, and further up the pitch Robinson had opted to start Nicolás Mezquida, Blas Pérez and Masato Kudo.
As expected, Robinson did recall a number of players who have been on loan at Whitecaps FC2 for the match. Midfielders Marco Bustos and Ben McKendry made appearances as second half substitutes, as well as WFC2 leading scorer Kyle Greig.
— Aidan (@AidanRantoul) September 29, 2016
The youngsters did not look out of place against Central FC, and in particular defender Brett Levis had a solid game at left back before being subbed off in the 64th minute.
Who will be in the side for the Whitecaps for their first quarterfinal match remains to be seen. Vancouver is nearing the end of a sub par MLS campaign, and Carl Robinson may look to make changes to his squad over the winter months.
3. Movin’ on up
The Whitecaps will play their first quarterfinal match against a yet to be determined opponent in February 2017. While the official announcement for the quarterfinals has not yet taken place, the Caps could end up with an attractive match-up with a Mexican team.
— Vancouver Armada (@VancouverArmada) September 29, 2016
The CCL quarterfinals will alter Robinson’s usual preseason plans. Mid February is usually a time for preseason matches for the Whitecaps, but not this year.
The ‘Caps are looking at a shortened winter break and the prospect of having to train harder to be in peak form to face a potentially tough opponent such as Mexico’s Pumas or Tigres.
Referee: Luis Enrique Santander
11’ – VAN – Blas Pérez (Cristian Techera)
22’ – VAN – Cristian Techera (penalty kick)
44 – CEN – Sean De Silva
49’ – VAN – Masato Kudo (Cristian Techera)
70’ – VAN – Cristian Techera (Marcel de Jong)
Possession: Vancouver 55% – Central 45%
Shots: Vancouver 16 – Central 3
Shots on Goal: Vancouver 12 – Central 2
Saves: Vancouver 1 – Central 8
Offsides: Vancouver 7 – Central 0
Corners: Vancouver 5 – Central 1
21’ – CEN – Keion Goodridge
65’ – CEN – Leston Paul
69’ – VAN – Fraser Aird
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
70.Paolo Tornaghi; 8.Fraser Aird, 4.Kendall Waston ©, 26.Tim Parker, 46.Brett Levis (30.Ben McKendry 64’); 13.Cristian Techera, 17.Andrew Jacobson, 11.Nicolás Mezquida (32.Marco Bustos 64’), 33.Marcel de Jong; 9.Masato Kudo (47.Kyle Greig* 72’), 27.Blas Pérez
Substitutes not used
24.Marco Carducci, 14.Cole Seiler, 19.Erik Hurtado, 67.Alphonso Davies
21.Jan-Michael Williams; 15.Kaydion Gabriel (16.Kadeem Corbin 84’), 5.Keston George, 3.Keion Goodridge, 24.Kevon Villaroel (10.Keron Cummings 52’); 19.Nathaniel Garcia (14.Nicholas Dillon 69’), 6.Leston Paul; 7.Jason Marcano, 11.Darren Mitchell ©, 8.Sean De Silva; 9.Kenwyne Jones
Substitutes not used
1.Javon Sample, 17.Johan Peltier, 26.Jem Gordon