VANCOUVER, BC – Vancouver Whitecaps FC (0W-1L-0D) fell 3-2 to Montreal Impact (1W-0L-0D) in a thrilling season opener on Sunday afternoon at BC Place in front of a sold-out crowd of 22,120.
Defenders Jordan Harvey and Kendall Waston provided the scoring for Vancouver on a pair of set pieces, while attacking midfielder Ignacio Piatti led the way for the visiting Impact with two goals and an assist. Whitecaps FC outshot Montreal 21-11, but were victimized by the play of Piatti in the end.
Carl Robinson’s first starting lineup of 2016 included nine returning players from last season, as well as newcomers Fraser Aird and Christian Bolaños. Also of note, 19-year-old Canadian midfielder Kianz Froese slotted in alongside Matías Laba in a 4-2-3-1 to make his second MLS regular season start and first at home.
There was certainly no shortage of action in this one.
The ‘Caps, and in particular Cristian Techera, were buzzing in the early going.
In the fifth minute, the 5-foot-2 Uruguayan nearly found a diving Octavio Rivero in the box after a cheeky flick over Laurent Ciman at the top of the box. A few minutes later, he lobbed a ball to a charging Pedro Morales, leading to a dangerous free kick opportunity after the captain was fouled.
Unfortunately for the Blue and White, their bright start was undone in the 19th minute.
That’s when a lively Piatti opened the scoring for Montreal after a brilliant run down the left that saw him beat three ‘Caps defenders before finishing from close range.
Rivero had two great opportunities to level the score. He curled a right-footed strike off the crossbar less than a minute after Piatti’s goal, and was denied on a breakaway in the 39th minute after a great ball over the top from Morales.
The ‘Caps were coming on, but then disaster struck.
In the 42nd minute, a rare defensive miscue between Waston and David Ousted resulted in an open net goal for Montreal’s Dominic Oduro.
This one was from over, though.
Just before halftime, the ‘Caps cut Montreal’s lead in half when Harvey slid to tap in a sublime Morales free kick at the back post, setting up an entertaining final 45 minutes. The ‘Caps were all over Montreal in the second frame – aside from a 60th-minute Anthony Jackson Hamel strike off the post. And if it wasn’t for a pair of big-time saves from Evan Bush, including a spectacular diving stop on a Rivero header, it could have been a different result.
Instead, it was the Piatti show.
Montreal’s star midfielder scored his second goal of the game on a late counter to put the Impact ahead 3-1. The ‘Caps got one back in stoppage time, as Waston headed in a Bolaños corner, but it wasn’t enough in the end.
Next up for Whitecaps FC is a visit to Sporting Kansas City next Saturday, March 12 at 5:30 p.m. PT (TSN2 and TSN 1410 radio). The ‘Caps fell 4-3 in a seven-goal thriller last year in their lone visit to Kansas.
MCMILLAN ‘CAPS CORNER KICK DONATIONS
For every ‘Caps corner kick at home, McMillan donates $100 to the United Way. An additional $500 is donated for every goal scored off a corner kick. This match McMillan Corners for Kids has donated $1500.
Budweiser Man of the Match: Jordan Harvey
Referee: Ismail Elfath
19′ – MTL – Ignacio Piatti (Harry Shipp)
42′ – MTL – Dominic Oduro (Ignacio Piatti)
45′ – VAN – Jordan Harvey (Pedro Morales)
88′ – MTL – Ignacio Piatti (Dominic Oduro)
90′ + 3′ – VAN – Kendall Waston (Christian Bolaños)
Shots: Vancouver 21 – Montreal 11
Shots on Goal: Vancouver 10 – Montreal 5
Saves: Vancouver 2 – Montreal 8
Fouls: Vancouver 12 – Montreal 11
Offsides: Vancouver 0 – Montreal 2
Corners: Vancouver 10 – Montreal 2
45′ – MTL – Ambroise Oyongo
62′ – VAN – Christian Bolaños
77′ – VAN – Fraser Aird
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
1.David Ousted; 8.Fraser Aird, 4.Kendall Waston, 26.Tim Parker, 2.Jordan Harvey; 15.Matías Laba, 38.Kianz Froese (27.Blas Pérez 66′); 7.Christian Bolaños, 77.Pedro Morales ©, 13.Cristian Techera (23.Kekuta Manneh 61′); 29.Octavio Rivero (9.Masato Kudo 81′)
Substitutes not used
70.Paolo Tornaghi, 3.Sam Adekugbe, 20.Deybi Flores, 44.Pa-Modou Kah
1.Evan Bush; 25.Donny Toia, 36.Victor Cabrera, 23.Laurent Ciman, 2.Ambroise Oyongo; 29.Eric Alexander, 33.Marco Donadel (16.Calum Mallace 56′); 32.Lucas Ontivero (24.Anthony Jackson-Hamel 53′), 10.Igacio Piatti ©, 14.Harry Shipp; 7.Dominic Oduro (6.Hassoun Camara ’90 + 1′)
Substitutes not used
22.Eric Kronberg, 5.Wandrille Lefevre, 18.Kyle Bekker, 51.Maxim Tissot