The 2016 MLS season got off to a rocky start for the Vancouver Whitecaps after losing 3-2 to the Montreal Impact in front of a sellout crowd of 22,120 raucous fans at BC Place on Sunday.
Vancouver’s normally rock-solid defence made several uncharacteristic errors that gifted the Didier Droba-less Impact a pair of easy first half goals that were key to Montreal’s victory.
The Whitecaps came out of the gate firing on all cylinders. They had several chances to open the scoring, but it was Ignacio Piatti who put the visitors on the scoreboard first in the 19th minute. Piatti danced around several Whitecaps defenders before beating goalkeeper David Ousted with a thunderous shot.
Vancouver, however, responded immediately when striker Octavio Rivero fired a shot off the Montreal crossbar barely a minute after the Impact goal. Rivero again had the opportunity to be the hero when he ran onto a beautiful Pedro Morales through-ball in the 30th minute, but Montreal goalkeeper Evan Bush raced off his line and turned Rivero’s shot out of play for a corner kick.
Montreal are really good, even without Drogba. #VANvMTL
— Matthew Doyle (@MLSAnalyst) March 7, 2016
The Impact doubled their lead three minutes before the halftime whistle when Dominic Oduro pounced on a loose ball after a disastrous mix up between defender Kendall Waston and Ousted. Ousted raced off his line and out of his own 18-yard box in a poor attempt to collect the ball, but was unsuccessful.
“On a personal level that is some of the worst I have played as a Whitecap, and I’m gutted for the team,” a visibly upset Ousted told reporters after the match. “I know mistakes are going to come, and that’s a part of soccer, a part of life, so now it’s just getting on with it.”
There was hope for the Whitecaps in the dying moments of the first half when Montreal’s Ambroise Oyongo fouled midfielder Cristian Techera deep in the Montreal half. Fullback Jordan Harvey timed his run perfectly to first beat a pair of Impact defenders and then side-foot Morales’ wonderfully placed free kick past Bush for his first goal since June 2014.
“Pedro put it right on my foot,” Harvey told VanCity Buzz. “It was as simple as that. If I missed that I would have been really disappointed.”
Neither team made any half time changes, but Montreal substitute Anthony Jackson-Hamel almost made it 3-1 for Montreal shortly after being introduced into the match in the 53rd minute. Jackson ran onto Piatti’s clever through ball, but saw his shot rebound off the far post after beating a pair of Vancouver defenders and a diving Ousted.
Vancouver’s best chance to draw level in the second half came in the 68th minute when Rivero connected with a lovely cross floated into the Montreal box by substitute Kekuta Manneh. The Uruguayan striker rose to meet the cross, but Montreal goalkeeper Evan Bush made a spectacular instinctive save to punch Rivero’s header clear.
— Ryan Biech (@ryanbiech) March 7, 2016
Vancouver had a sustained period of pressure fifteen minutes from full-time in which they were awarded three successive corner kicks. Kendall Waston came close to scoring a second goal for Vancouver, but once again Bush came to the rescue for the Impact.
Piatti, however, dashed any hopes of a Whitecaps comeback in the 88th minute when he combined nicely with Oduro to score a third, and final Montreal goal, on the counterattack. Piatti’s goal underlined what was an impressive personal performance and a solid road win for the Impact.
The Whitecaps did finally manage to add a consolation goal three minutes into second half stoppage time when Waston nodded Christian Bolaños’ corner kick past Bush for his first goal of the new MLS season.
— Simon Fudge (@SimonFudge74) March 7, 2016
What a completely disappointing and deflating start to the #VWFC season. Better days ahead I hope.
— Michael Gomm (@MichaelGomm) March 7, 2016
It was a disappointing result for the Whitecaps, who now head out onto the road for two very tough games against Sporting Kansas City next weekend and then down in Seattle on March 19th.
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