VANCOUVER, BC – Fans in Vancouver were treated to a night of great entertainment at BC Place on Saturday, but in the end also disappointment as Whitecaps FC (15W-12L-3D) fell 2-1 to New York City FC (10W-14L-7D) on a last-minute penalty kick.
Head coach Carl Robinson made three changes from last Saturday’s match against Seattle Sounders FC with centre back Tim Parker in for Pa-Modou Kah, midfielder Matías Laba for Russell Teibert, and striker Darren Mattocks for Octavio Rivero.
Just over a minute into the match, Laba had the first strike, just missing the far post as Josh Saunders dove to his right.
The ‘Caps came close again on 13 minutes when a free kick from Mauro Rosales swung barely a foot wide of the far post. Three minutes later the best chance of the opening 15 minutes came as Cristian Techera chested down a ball into the box from Rosales before turning and laying it off to Kekuta Manneh. The Gambian then rifled a shot to the near post that went off Saunders, then the post, and back into the arms of Saunders.
Despite a number of chances for the ‘Caps, NYCFC opened the scoring on 29 minutes. A slick ball sent down the wing by Andrea Pirlo found left back Angelino, who then cut a ball into the box that was calmly finished by Frank Lampard to make it 1-0 for the visitors.
Down a goal, Whitecaps FC were on the ascendency to start the second half. On 50 minutes, Rosales found Kendall Waston on a free kick, but Saunders came up with a huge low save to stop the big man’s header on target. Thirteen minutes later, Manneh unleashed a wicked one-time strike from 35-yards out but could not quite hit the frame.
The back and forth continued. David Villa had a good chance on 70 minutes, but his low strike in the box was well saved by David Ousted. A minute later, a cross from Manneh sat tantalizingly in the box for left back Jordan Harvey, only to see his poke sail over the crossbar. Just three minutes after that, a long cross in from Jordan Smith met substitute Octavio Rivero, but he wasn’t able to get over it enough to keep it on net.
Things really picked up in the final minutes. On 87 minutes, Smith unleashed an absolute rocket that Saunders did well to save, but Waston was deemed to have been pulled down on the rebound, awarding the ‘Caps a penalty kick. Pedro Morales, on as a second half substitute, stepped up to put it home and level the match at 1-1.
That wouldn’t be all. A flurry of chances would ensue. First, a deflection from substitute Robert Earnshaw was saved by Saunders. Seconds later, a shot from Manneh, again saved by Saunders. Moments after that, a Waston header from the corner kick went inches over the crossbar.
Just when it looked like the ‘Caps might pull out a win, New York City FC were given what can only be described as a “controversial” penalty kick. As the ball came to the top of the box, Lampard and Laba came to a head, with Laba coming away with the ball and Lampard leaping into the air. Referee Ricardo Salazar decided it was worthy of a penalty kick and Villa stepped up to win it for the visitors in dramatic fashion.