Report and Reaction: Vancouver Whitecaps don’t get the Memo or help from VAR as they fall...


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Report and Reaction: Vancouver Whitecaps don’t get the Memo or help from VAR as they fall to defeat in Houston

Another week, another controversial penalty decision going against Vancouver Whitecaps, some more poor defending, and sadly another defeat. That was the tale of the Whitecaps third straight defeat to start the new MLS season, as they fell 3-2 to a Houston Dynamo side that’s attacking prowess was simply too much for a new look Vancouver defence to handle.

A brace from Memo Rodriguez and that contentious penalty from Alberth Elis did the damage. Goals from Fredy Montero and Lass Bangoura had seen the Whitecaps fight back twice after falling behind, and while that will provide some solace for Marc Dos Santos, this is a Vancouver side who still very much look a work in progress and with a lot of work to turn things around in the process, as they fell to their worst ever start in MLS.

Dos Santos rang some changes for the third straight week, this week going with a 3-4-3 formation, bringing Scott Sutter in for his first start as a Whitecap and bringing Derek Cornelius into the starting line-up against as part of the back three.

Houston had a great opportunity to open the scoring in the sixth minute when Alberth Elis sent in a cross that Max Crepeau could only parry into the path of Rodriguez, but the midfielder blasted over from six yards out with the goal gaping. A lucky escape for the ‘Caps, but a lesson they weren’t to learn from.

The ‘Caps were getting forward well, and had a couple of half chances through a Montero header that went across goal with no takers and then an Erik Godoy header from a corner that flew over, but the Dynamo went straight up the pitch and took the lead through a 15th minute Rodriguez tap in.

Slack defending saw Cornelius give the ball away horribly to Elis in the corner, and the Honduran sent in a perfect ball to a wide open Rodriguez, who made no mistake from four yards out.

Houston were looking the far more dangerous team, with their attack threatening to rip the Vancouver defence a new one every time they poured forward, and Elis nearly made it two in the 24th minute, crashing a header off the bar.

Then from nowhere the Whitecaps got themselves back in it in the 34th minute. Adam Lundkvist brought down Fredy Montero in the box and the Colombian picked himself up to drill home the penalty for his first goal since his return as a Whitecap. 1-1 and somehow, game on.

Ice in his veins.@_FredyMontero coolly slots home the PK.#HOUvVAN | #VWFC

— Vancouver Whitecaps FC (@WhitecapsFC) March 16, 2019

It was a soft penalty. Montero went down very easily but there was contact, and after how the last two weeks have played out for the ‘Caps in terms of penalties, you take that call every day of the week.

But what goes around comes around and three minutes later Elis went down in the other box to claim a soft penalty of his own.

As Elis raced into the box, Cornelius knocked the ball away and the Honduran seemed to throw himself on to the ground. Referee Nima Saghafi pointed to the spot amidst Whitecaps ire as ‘Caps players implored him to go to VAR. He eventually did, reviewed it, and stayed resolute to his initial decision.

For me Cornelius got the ball, not the man, and Elis made the most it. The only slim consolation, if you can even call it that, was that at least the ref went for video review this week. Let us know your thoughts on the call below.

This was the call that led to the PK

— Vancouver Whitecaps FC (@WhitecapsFC) March 16, 2019

Elis picked himself up and tucked away the penalty and that was how it stayed till half time, with the home side heading in with a 2-1 lead, which on the overall balance of play was at least deserved.

MDS shook things up at half time, bringing on Bangoura for Cornelius, as Vancouver moved to a back four, and the ‘Caps started the half brightly with Inbeom Hwang forcing Joe Willie to tip over a long range free kick five minutes in.

Vancouver kept on the pressure and they tied things up once again in the 54th minute when Bangoura pounced on a misplaced Houston pass just inside the ‘Caps half, raced in on goal, taking a touch inside in the box before curling a beauty into the bottom right corner.

Banger from Bangoura.

What a way to open your @MLS account!#HOUvVAN | #VWFC

— Vancouver Whitecaps FC (@WhitecapsFC) March 16, 2019

The game now opened up and Houston had a chance to go back ahead on the hour mark when the ball fell to Aljaz Struna, in the box from a corner, but the Slovenian blasted over.

Boniek Garcia received a pass in the box in the 72nd minute, but shot weakly at Crepeau. The Dynamo kept the pressure on and Crepeau was called into action again, this time to keep out a fiercer shot from 10 yards out.

But Houston weren’t about to be denied and they went ahead seconds later when Rodriguez grabbed his second of the game, sweeping home another inch perfect low Elis cross.

Ironically he was about to be taken out of the game for Romell Quioto, and this proved to be his last action of the afternoon. A nice way to bow out.

Things soon got worse for Vancouver, with Andy Rose forced out of the game with a bleeding head injury after a clash of heads in the box. With the ‘Caps having just used their third sub, they were to see out the rest of the match with ten men.

Houston were lucky to keep 11 players on the pitch themselves minutes later when Quioto only picked up a yellow for a horrible looking forearm smash into the face of Montero.

There was to be no third comeback and the ‘Caps made it three straight defeats to start the Marc Dos Santos era in Vancouver. There were some positives, and some signs that the attack is starting to get there, but the defending continues to be very concerning and needs to be addressed as a matter of priority. At least they have a week off now to do that.

FINAL SCORE: Houston Dynamo 3 -2 Vancouver Whitecaps

ATT: A shockingly poor 13,549

HOUSTON: Joe Willis; A.J. DeLaGarza, Aljaz Struna, Kevin Garcia, Adam Lundkvist; Matías Vera, Boniek Garcia; Alberth Elis, Tomás Martínez (Tommy McNamara 71), Memo Rodríguez (Romell Quioto 74); Mauro Manotas (Marlon Hairston 90) [Substitutes not used: Tyler Deric, Alejandro Fuenmayor, Ronaldo Peña, Darwin Cerén]
VANCOUVER: Max Crepeau; Doneil Henry, Erik Godoy, Derek Cornelius (Lass Bangoura 46); Scott Sutter, Jon Erice (Joaquin Ardaiz 74), Andy Rose, “PC” Giro; Yordy Reyna (Lucas Venuto 67), Inbeom Hwang, Fredy Montero [Subs Not Used: Zach MacMath, Jake Nerwinski, David Norman, Felipe Martins]
** postgame reaction to follow **

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