Well, it’s over.
The first MLS playoff game to be hosted BC Place Stadium ended in disappointment after a 2-0 loss to Cascadia rivals Portland Timbers, eliminating Vancouver Whitecaps FC from 2015 MLS Cup Playoffs.
Really, it wasn’t even close, at least after the 26th minute.
That’s when ‘Caps forward Kekuta Manneh went down with what is being called a left ankle strain. And so did any hope that Vancouver had of winning this game. The images of Manneh slamming his hand against the turf in frustration, before walking off of the pitch, pretty much sums this one up.
But it could have been different.
In the 8th minute of the match, Manneh brought the ball up from Vancouver’s side of the centre line to within about 30 yards of the Timbers goal and let one rip. The ball bounced once on it’s way to goal and past the outstretched hands of Portland keeper Adam Kwarasey before striking the post and then the back of Kwarasey’s head, trickling wide for a corner.
A luckier bounce would have sent all 27,837 fans into a Whitecaps-induced frenzy that hasn’t been in Vancouver for decades. That crowd was waiting to explode, but it never came.
What did come instead was the thunderous left-foot of Timbers forward Fanendo Adi to put his team up by a goal in the 31st minute. With the Whitecaps looking lifeless in attack, Portland’s midfield and defence swallowed the ball up after that.
“It changed, dramatically,” said Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson of his team’ play after Manneh was taken off. “I think the kid started like a house on fire and put us in the ascendancy with playing front football… then it changes.
“But when it’s not your day, it’s not your day and today, it wasn’t our day. We didn’t score a goal over two legs. When you don’t score a goal over two legs, unless you’re lucky and go to penalties and win, you’re not going to win a game of football, and that’s what happened.
“We changed the formation twice to try and get back into it. I think we could have been there another 90 minutes and not scored.”
Goal-less over two legs in the post-season and shutout at home in front of a sold-out stadium, while failing to really grab the city’s attention is how this season ends for Vancouver.
Yet, the franchise has still made strides forward. Silverware in the form of the Voyageurs Cup made its way to Vancouver, as too did a home playoff game, two things that have seemed to forever elude the club. Not too mention, the Whitecaps also improved on their point total from last season, something they have continually done since entering the MLS in 2011.
Then there are the fans.
“We’ve had fantastic fans the whole year, and this is what we want as an organization, we want 27,000 here every time,” said ‘Caps goalkeeper David Ousted post-match. “We want to open up this whole stadium.
“This is a step in the right direction, but like I say it’s a step short of where we wanted to go.”
The end to this promising season is going to sting for some time, but if this club has taught us anything since 2011, it’s that improvement is always around the corner.