Morales scores league-leading fourth goal of the season

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Pedro Morales

VANCOUVER, BC – With their starting centre backs away on international duty, Vancouver Whitecaps FC (2W-2L-0D) picked up their first clean sheet of the season in a 1-0 win over Houston Dynamo (1W-2L-1D) – the highest scoring team in MLS –  on Saturday night at BC Place.

 Pedro Morales provided the scoring with his league-leading fourth goal, and penalty, of the season. The Dynamo hit the woodwork twice, but much to the delight of the sold-out crowd of 22,120, the night belonged to Vancouver.

After dropping their first two matches, the ‘Caps now have back-to-back wins.

Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson was forced to make four changes to his starting lineup on Saturday with Tim Parker, Kendall Waston, Christian Bolaños, and Blas Pérez away on international duty.

In their place, Robinson started a centre back pairing of Pa-Modou Kah and newcomer Andrew Jacobson – a natural midfielder who was named Budweiser Man of the Match in his first start with the club. Robinson also brought in winger Cristian Techera and striker Masato Kudo. It was Kudo’s first MLS regular season start and Kah’s first appearance of the season.

The Dynamo, who set a new MLS record with 11 goals in their first three matches, were also missing a few players due to injury and international duty. It would have been easy for both teams to play a little more cautious considering the absences, but that certainly wasn’t the case.

Both sides showed plenty of attacking intent right from the onset.

The ‘Caps nearly opened the scoring in the third minute when Techera got in behind after a 30-yard Jacobson headed clearance, but the Uruguayan lobbed it just over the goal.

That was the first of a surplus of chances for the home side.

In the 15th minute, Kudo was denied from close range after a pretty passing play between Kekuta Manneh and Fraser Aird, who both looked lively. On the ensuing corner, Jacobson had a glorious chance on a half-volley at the back post but couldn’t beat Dynamo goalkeeper Joe Willis.

Finally, the ‘Caps got on the board in the 23rd minute.  Manneh sent in a cross, Kudo was taken down at the back post by Jalil Anibaba, and Morales converted his fourth penalty of the season. Who else?  Houston also had their fair share of chances in the opening frame, including a Leonel Mirando volley off the crossbar from the top of the six-yard box.

There were some nervy moments, but the ‘Caps managed to hold firm.

Things slowed down considerably in the second half, which favoured the home side. Houston did come close on a few occasions – Ricardo Clark hit the post in the 71st minute and Mauro Manotas fired an 18-yard free kick off the wall in stoppage time.

The ‘Caps held on though, and the result was their first home win of the season.

The Blue and White are back at BC Place a week from today to host LA Galaxy – one of three matches that will have an increased seating capacity this season. Limited tickets are still available.

MILESTONE MATCHT
Tonight was Jordan Harvey’s 117th MLS regular season start with Whitecaps FC, which makes him the club’s new all-time leader. Harvey was solid again for the ‘Caps, racking up four tackles and four clearances.

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 $200 for a running total of $1700.

MATCH DETAILS
Budweiser Man of the Match: Andrew Jacobson
Referee: David Gantar
Attendance: 22,120

Scoring Summary
23′ – VAN – Pedro Morales (penalty kick)

Stats
Shots: Vancouver 12 – Houston 17
Shots on Goal: Vancouver 6 – Houston 5
Saves: Vancouver 5 – Houston 5
Fouls: Vancouver 16 – Houston 16
Offsides: Vancouver 1 – Houston 1
Corners: Vancouver 2 – Houston 7

Cautions
76′ – VAN – Matias Laba
90′ + 2′ – VAN – Pa-Modou Kah

Vancouver Whitecaps FC
1.David Ousted; 8.Fraser Aird, 17.Andrew Jacobson, 44.Pa-Modou Kah, 2.Jordan Harvey; 13.Cristian Techera (3.Sam Adekugbe 69′),15.Matías Laba, 77.Pedro Morales, 23.Kekuta Manneh (11.Nicolas Mezquida 86′); 9.Masato Kudo (6.Jordan Smith 78′), 29.Octavio Rivero

Substitutes not used
70.Paolo Tornaghi, 14.Cole Seiler, 19.Erik Hurtado, 20.Deybi Flores

Houston Dynamo
31.Joe Willis; 2.Jalil Anibaba, 18.David Horst, 5.Raul Rodriguez, 7.DaMarcus Beasley; 14.Alex, 13.Ricardo Clark; 11.Andrew Wenger (20.Abdoulie Mansally 58′), 8.Cristian Maidana (19.Mauro Manotas 64′), 33.Leonel Miranda; 12.Will Bruin (3.Rob Lovejoy 81′)

Substitutes not used
24.Calle Brown, 4.Agus, 6.David Rocha, 22.Sheanon Williams

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