This wasn’t the prettiest match in Calgary, but it confirms that this tie could go either way, as Cavalry showed they’re not one to be taken lightly. Both sides can be optimistic going into the second leg, as Cavalry holds the advantage considering away goals and the Whitecaps will feel they can take the edge if they turn it up another notch at home.
Cavalry intended to make Spruce Meadows a fortress last night, and it showed. They came out in full force and in the eight minute Nico Pasquotti’s shot from a sharp angle on the right side was probably the best chance of the half. As the teams settled in, no one really managed to take control of the game. The field had been used for an equestrian event over the weekend and it showed in the way the game unfolded. The bumpy grass made it difficult for both teams to really control the ball as they wanted.
Things opened up a little more in the second half. Ali Adnan and Yordy Reyna combined nicely on a couple of occasions down the left flank, showing off great linkup play from the Caps best outfield players on the evening. Midway through the half, a nice one-two put Ali Adnan in on goal from the left side, but as he clipped the ball across the face of goal to an open Fredy Montero, referee Pierre-Luc Lauzière whistled for offside. Replays will show Adnan was onside, but the question is whether Fredy Montero would have still gotten the ball into the cage, as he stood in front of an open net had the play not been stopped. A little later on in the half, Scott Sutter went up for a ball in the aftermath of a corner kick and took down Pasquotti in the box. Cavalry felt it should have been called, so did the post-game pannel on Onesoccer, but the Whitecaps escaped a penalty call as VAR has not found it’s way to this competition.
Growing in confidence, Cavalry put more pressure on the Whitecaps in the last 15 minutes, while Vancouver sat a little deeper and attacked on the counter. The Calgary side came close, notably on Escalante’s late goal-bound bender, which Crépeau parried away rather impressively. On the other hand, they will have to be wary of the threat the Whitecaps pose on set pieces when they head back to Vancouver. Doneil Henry and Andy Rose’s headers off of free kicks in the second half came close to providing that badly desired away goal.
The Whitecaps will need to do something differently if they are to take hold of the tie. One of the big points Dos Santos will surely be looking at is his midfield. The trio of Teibert, Felipe and Rose didn’t really manage to connect the back and front lines together. Set-up in a 3-5-2 formation once again, most of Vancouver’s chances came off breaks, set pieces or plays around the outside. The lack of influence from the midfield will need to be addressed before they host Cavalry and real soon if they want success in MLS. The only player rested in this game was Inbeom Hwang, but his introduction alone will not be enough.
Man of the Match: Maxime Crépeau
The Whitecaps can thank their goalkeeper for not being behind in this tie. As has been the case all season, he was very solid throughout the game, but his diving stop against José Escalante in the final minutes was one of those moments that decides games. Vancouver needed him, and Max was up to the task last night.
Around the Canadian Championship:
HFX Wanderers FC 2 – 3 Ottawa Fury FC, Attendance: 6,213
The day started in Halifax, where a wildly entertaining match finished with the Fury on top. The Wanderers will probably feel they should have gotten more out of the game, especially considering they had a goal incorrectly judged offside. Despite that, Ottawa was probably the most impressive team of the day. Everyone knows about the MLS sides and a lot was said about the Canadian Premier League, but this USL team came out with something to prove. They will feel good about their chances too with the three away goals. Halifax must now score at least two goals to have a chance of progressing when the sides meet at TD Place.
York9 FC 2 – 2 Montreal Impact FC, Attendance 4,996
The Whitecaps weren’t the only MLS team not to impress yesterday. The Montreal Impact had a hard time against York9 and are lucky to even be coming out with a draw. There was some late drama at York University. First Rodrigo Gattas put Y9 infront 2-1 in the 88th minute, then Nathan Ingham unnecessarily took down Maximiliano Urruti to award the Impact a penalty, which Saphir Taïder converted in the 92nd. York9 came back the other way in the dying moments but Joseph Di Chiara only managed to hit the crossbar with an empty net in front of him. The tie remains delicately balanced going back to Saputo Stadium.
Cavalry FC 0 – 0 Vancouver Whitecaps FC, Attendance 5,129
From looking at all of the results from yesterday’s Canadian Championship matches, it proves that there are many competitive teams in this country and that the league they belong to doesn’t mean much. With seven clubs remaining, it’s anyone’s guess as to who will win it. When the ties resume on July 24th, every team will need a little “magic of the cup” if they hope to move on.
The only thing decided by this first leg is that it’s going to be a tight one. From Marc Dos Santos’ point of view, he will need to come up with a way to take the upper hand on this tough Cavalry side. The excuse of not fielding the strongest lineup isn’t valid, as he deployed a first choice team lat night. Cavalry will fancy themselves, knowing now that they can handle the Whitecaps and with just one or two of their chances going in, a semifinal berth would probably be theirs. If the visitors score in the return leg, Vancouver will need to win the game, as away goals are the tie-breaker. That means that it is all to play for on July 24th at BC Place.
It is a busy schedule coming up for the ‘Caps and rotation will be vital during this stretch in order to have the best players available for the return leg. Until then, Vancouver has three MLS games. The Whitecaps host Sporting Kansas City on Saturday, then play New England and San Jose as they try to climb up the MLS standings.