VAR, A Weather Delay, And Whitecaps Advance With 2-0 Win
Well, where do we start this one? First off the Whitecaps advance with 2-0 victory over the Chicago Fire. Then there was a weather delay and VAR calling back a goal for the Fire. Thomas Hasal got his first win and a clean sheet despite the rocky game. Oh, and did I mention the Whitecaps advance with a 2-0 victory?
It was confusing Thursday morning when my alarm went off so early on my day off until I remembered it was Whitecaps match day. And like the social media account pointed out I would be waking up to a surprise in the lineup.
The Whitecaps would shift to a 5-3-2 formation with a 5 man backline. Ali Adnan and Jake Nerwinski would be given chances on the wings to push up but it was definitely a defensive shape. 5 Canadians got the start including Ryan Raposo and Keeper Thomas Hasal who made their MLS starting debuts.
Chicago knew a draw would do but made some changes in going for the win. Two changes to the lineup that lost 2-0 to the San Jose Earthquakes. Jonathan Bornstein started in place of the injured Luka Stojanovic, and young designated player Ignacio Aliseda on for C.J. Sapong.
First Half Whitecaps And Fire Hit The Snooze
I did a couple of times this morning but was up ready to go with a giant pot of coffee. Vancouver and Chicago both came out pretty tentative, it was expected with the Whitecaps needing to win by two, that they would bunker down early. Chicago also didn't really need much to get through, so they seemed content to sit on the ball and look for the perfect chance.
Besides an early clearance off the line on a corner in the 3rd minute, there weren't many other chances for Chicago. They were looking for long shots and long crosses into the box that was dealt with easily by Jasser Khmiri, Derek Cornelius, and Ranko Veselinovic. One of the most dangerous chances, a cross by Robert Beric, was punched away by Hasal.
Chicago Fire would continue to try the long shots. The half would end with the Fire having 58.7% possession 10 total shots and 3 on target that Thomas Hasal had to deal with, none being too dangerous.
The Whitecaps advance with a 2-0 win but would be forced to sub off Jasser Khmiri in the second minute of added time after he looked to tweak his knee. Cristian Dajome would replace him as the teams would head into the half in a scoreless draw.
Second Half Brought Everything MLS is Back And More As Whitecaps Advance With 2-0 Win
Neither team in the MLS is Back Tournament would make a substitution to start the second half. Vancouver got through the first half with the score tied at 0-0 which would help the Whitecaps advance with 2-0 win. Vancouver switched into a 4-3-3 formation to start the half.
Things would continue along the same lines for both teams with Chicago controlling possession and getting chances blocked away. The Whitecaps made a substitution in the 57th minute Brining on Yordy Reyna for Ryan Raposo. After several more minutes of back and forth play both teams would make several changes.
Chicago fire brought on C.J. Sapong for young designated player Ignacio Alseda and Miguel Navarro for Johnathan Bornstein in the back. The Whitecaps would counter bringing on David Milinkovic for Theo Bair and Cristian Gutiérrez for Leonard Owusu. It was a very attack-minded substitution as Vancouver looked to push things.
Before the Whitecaps Advance with 2-0 win we had to deal with a lightning delay in the MLS is Back Tournament. The play was halted in the 63rd minute when storms were rolling in. An hour and 20-minute delay and play was finally able to resume. It didn't take long for the Whitecaps to break the scoreless tie.
Chicago was trying to push things down the right side but a nice clearance from Gutiérrez would lead to a Vancouver break. Ali Adnan who had been moved up to left-wing was able to find Reyna on a great through ball. Reyna was able to do the rest undressing Keeper Kenneth Kronholm for the 1-0 lead.
Vancouver wouldn't waste much time adding another so the Whitecaps advance with 2-0 win. Again Ali Adnan and Yordy Reyna were able to connect in the 71st minute. A nice header by the Iraqi Internation to Reyna and he picked out Dajome on the run. Dajome was able to slot it between the keeper's legs for the all-important two-goal lead. Hold on to your MLS horse cause things got interesting.
If the Whitecaps advance with 2-0 win they would need to hold on for 20 minutes and get some help. The Fire was pressing and looked to get the one needed goal back in the 84th minute. Álvaro Medrán hit the post on a shot and the ball went straight up in the air. C.J. Sapong went up with two Whitecap defenders and the ball came down and ended up in the net somehow.
A video review would show the ball went in off the arm and hand of C.J. Sapong and the goal was overturned. Vancouver caught another break! A nervous 4 added minutes with some well-placed time-wasting by the Whitecaps and finally, Armando Villarreal blew the final whistle. It was exactly what Vancouver needed to move forward to the knockout stage and sent the Chicago fire home early. It was worth getting up so early for and the squad was visibly excited during media, which was also delayed due to weather.
Post Game Comments From The Whitecaps
Head Coach Marc Dos Santos on the weather delay and how the team addressed it,
"So the first thing we did is, let the players breathe, let the players recover, leave them alone, put some music in the locker room, let them stay away from the game and that's what we did. Then we went into the board, and we addressed things that we had to do in the last 30 minutes to give us a chance, number one, to win the game."
"And then number two, to advance. And when that happened first we went through that, but the message was very clear in the sense that we were still alive, with two losses in a row, with 60 minutes played, we were still alive, we were not knocked out yet, and we still had a chance."
I asked him about Thomas Hasal's first MLS start,
“Thomas has this very cold type of attitude towards things, not that he doesn't care about it. Not that he doesn't have a big heart, because he does, but he's so tuned in and so focused. And if he's the number three goalkeeper, the number two, the number one, we saw signs in him since preseason and going into San Diego, when we were in preseason and he played Dallas and he played Columbus, some minutes there. It was always like that. And this is a very good tool to as a goalkeeper."
"Sometimes there was moments that were a little bit shaky where decision making wasn't good. But there's a lot of good things that he did today, and I'm happy for him. I didn't get to speak too much with him yet, but I'm sure it's a dream start when you get your opportunity and you could tell everyone that his first game in MLS that he plays 90 minutes is a huge day for the Vancouver Whitecaps."
I asked Thomas Hasal about his preparation going into the match,
“The preparation was the same as it is every other game. I went through my routine, the same that I would do with the Academy, the national team, the second team. I didn't look at it any different and go on to the game, focused on my warm-up, played it like any other match, we play to win.”
Hasal was asked about the team overcoming the odds after Whitecaps advance with 2-0 win over Chicago Fire,
“It was special for sure. I've never been part of a group that was more excited, put in more work for this game to get a result like that so we were, of course, after the game, everyone's dead. We were so excited and now we're ready to get for the next game.”
Yordy Reyna who came on in the 57th minute and scored the first goal that helped the Whitecaps advance with 2-0 win in the MLS is back tournament. Spoke on head coach Marc Dos Santos bringing him in off the bench,
“Marc gave us the ultimate confidence and the message was to go forward and push forward. We knew we had to score at the restart and that’s what we wanted to do. He had a good chat in the locker room and instilled that in us to get out, move forward and go and attack.”
MLS is Back Tournament Continues After Whitecaps Advance With 2-0 Win
The Vancouver Whitecaps advance with a 2-0 win over the Chicago Fire. It was a thrilling result that had a bit of everything. Make sure to check out Sports Talk Line going forward for the latest Whitecaps News and MLS is Back Tournament news as we head to the knockout stage. Vancouver will face off against Sporting Kansas City on Sunday, July 26th at 8 pm Eastern time.
In the meantime check out Episode 12 of the Unnamed Sports Show on YouTube as I spoke with Whitecaps head coach Marc Dos Santos after the Whitecaps Advance with 2-0 win. We also look forward to the next match for the squad.