VANCOUVER, BC – It’s a Champions League clean sweep.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC won their fourth straight CONCACAF Champions League match on Wednesday night at BC Place, defeating Trinidad & Tobago champions Central FC 4-1 to conclude the group stage with a perfect record.
Cristian Techera led the way for Vancouver with two goals and two assists, continuing his torrid CCL form. The Uruguayan’s five goals during the group stage have him tied for the tournament Golden Boot lead. Strikers Blas Pérez and Masato Kudo also found the back of the net.
Whitecaps FC already had a quarter-final berth locked up heading into Wednesday’s contest.
A win, however, guarantees they will be no worse than a third seed in the quarter-finals, which will take place between February 21 and March 2, 2017. That means they’ll face one of the bottom three teams that advance and host the second leg at BC Place.
It was a dominant group stage for Vancouver – and Wednesday was no exception.
The ‘Caps, who made 10 changes to their starting lineup after a weekend draw with Colorado Rapids, played some attractive stuff from the get go in a 4-4-2 diamond midfield.
And they opened the scoring in the 11th minute.
First, a lively Nicolas Mezquida played the ball out wide to Techera, who sent in a cross from the right. Kudo then caused some havoc in front of goal, resulting in an easy tap-in for Pérez at the back post.
The likes of Pérez, Techera, and Mezquida were very involved in the early going, combining again in the 22nd minute. This time, Mezquida played a throughball to Pérez, who was hauled down by Keion Goodridge to earn a penalty.
Techera took care of the rest, finishing with a cheeky chip from the spot.
Sean De Silva got one back for Central FC at the end of the first half, curling in a stunning 22-yard free kick, but the ‘Caps kept coming after the break.
Kudo restored Vancouver’s two-goal lead in the 49th minute, volleying in a low Techera cross at the top of the six-yard-box. Techera then slotted in a cross from Marcel de Jong, who played on the left side of midfield, from the centre of the box in the 70th minute.
The ‘Caps, who played with 10 men for the final few minutes after substitute Ben McKendry left the match due to injury, were in cruise control from there.
Not only do they finish the group stage with a perfect 4W-0L-0D record, they do so with a +8 goal differential. And that could come in handy for quarter-final seeding.
Either way, the ‘Caps have made history.