Whitecaps Strike Early And Hold On 3-2 Against The Chicago Fire: El Tanque With The Brace
The Whitecaps strike early and hold on 3-2 against the Chicago Fire. Lucas Cavallini had the brace while Cristian Dajome got the scoring started early for Vancouver. The Fire were able to keep it close most of the game but couldn't get that 3rd goal late. The Whitecaps would hold on despite the late pressure.
The Vancouver Whitecaps wrapped up preseason Saturday, April 10th with a double-header. The team is coming off a 3-0 win in their first preseason game against the RSL Monarchs and looked to continue the winning ways first against the Chicago Fire and then against USL champions Indy Eleven. The team was split into two squads for the games starting with the Fire first at 9:30 PST and Indy Eleven at 11:30 PST. Marc Dos Santos hinted in media this week the teams will be split into a strong starting squad and a younger squad.
As expected the team went with a strong veteran lineup for the first match of the day. Lucas Cavallini and Cristian Dajome started once again up top in a 4-4-2 formation. Deiber Caicedo and Russel Teibert started on the wings with Leonard Owusu and Janio Bikel holding down the mid-field. Vancouver would start Cristian Gutierrez, Andy Rose, Ranko Veselinovic, and Jake Nerwinski along the back with the Canadian Maxime Crepeau back between the posts.
Chicago Fire would field a lineup very similar to what we will see on opening day against New England Revolution on Saturday, April 17th. Head coach Raphael Wicky would go with Robert Berić up top and his usual throng of midfielders. Luka Stojanović, Jhon Espinoza, Gaston Giménez, Przemyslaw Frankowski and Alvaro Medrán. Francisco Calvo, Miguel Navarro, Boris Sekulić, and Johan Kappelhof would make up the back 4 in front of keeper Bobby Shuttleworth.
It was a preseason game but with just 7 days until the regular season started it was very physical. It was clear both teams wanted to go into the season in good form. Navarro would come up lame on a non-contact injury just minutes into the match and was replaced by Chinonso Offor Nnamdi for Chicago.
Frantic 1st Half Action As The Whitecaps Strike Early Vs The Fire
The Whitecaps would strike early thanks to a bad giveaway by Chicago. The ball was played back right to Dajome who ran 40 yards and was able to fire it past Bobby Shuttleworth for the 1-0 lead just minutes into the match. The lead did not last long, as some sloppy play in the Whitecaps box would lead to a handball from Janio Bikel. Berić would make no mistake with the penalty kick, and the game was all tied up in the 9th minute. The Fire would come out after the goal with more possession and a cleaner ability to string together passes.
The fire would continue to attack, forcing a very low block from the Whitecaps. A shot in the 18th minute by Chicago was handled easily by Maxime Crepeau. Vancouver was having a hard time playing from the back early thanks to a windy afternoon. It would almost cost them several times as clearances were put in very poor spots. In the 24th minute, Frankowski floated one to the back of the box for Beric but Veselinovic was able to get a piece and deflect it out for a corner.
Vancouver would try and counter but was fouled by Chicago. Off the free-kick, the Whitecaps were able to win their first corner of the match. Leonard Owusu came over to take corner duty from Gutierrez and it was a good decision. His whipped ball came perfectly to Cavallini who muscled his defender and headed it past Shuttleworth for a 2-1 lead in the 30th minute. Ryan Raposo would replace Owusu after the goal as he was experiencing some tightness. The intensity of the match would pick up as the first half would close.
Chicago was playing like it was the U.S. Open Cup as the yellow cards would pile up. Berić and Giménez would both pick up cards before the half would end. Chicago would test Crepeau again from distance but it was an easy save and the first half would end with the Whitecaps up 2-1.
2nd Half Brace From Cavallini And The Whitecaps Hold on 3-2
The Whitecaps strike early again in the second half to restore the 2 goal lead after some back and forth play from both teams. Dajome would earn a free-kick just outside the penalty box and Lucas Cavallini would step up for Vancouver. He curled a perfect left-footed ball right into the top corner and Shuttleworth had no chance. It was great to see from the Canadian National who netted his 6th goal in the last 3 matches in all competitions.
The Whitecaps would once again park their backline with a big lead. Chicago would take advantage with some great passing and possession in the Vancouver end. Some scary moments but the Fire were not able to score and the Whitecaps cleared. Dajome would put in some hard work and force a turnover from Shuttleworth in the 69th minute but it was wasted and MDS would make more substitutions. Theo Bair and Academy player Amir Batyrev would come on for Dajome and Caicedo in the 71st minute.
Chicago would get an amazing chance to get one back when Espinoza would send in a great ball but Berić would miss the open header. Vancouver would give up a free-kick after a Cavallini foul and the Fire would win a corner. Mauricio Pineda would send it in and Defender Francisco Calvo would make it 3-2 in the 78th minute. The attack didn't end as Vancouver was playing all 11 men back trying to stop the Fire from getting the tieing goal. The youngster Baytrev would get a chance in the 89th minute but his shot was right at Shuttleworth. There were several added minutes but the Whitecaps would hold on for the 3-2 win.
Post Game Media Availability
After the match, Keeper Maxime Crepeau and head coach Marc Dos Santos spoke to the media. Max was up first and I asked him what he made of today's match, "I think it was a great thing for everyone to actually play an MLS team. We know the realities of the organization where it's our first game against an MLS team, and we start the season next week... At times it could have been better at different areas of the field but it is a preseason so we'll tidy up and work on it."
On the intensity of the match and it is very physical, "It was important, the game that is closer to what we will expect during the season. It was feisty, there was some knocks behind the play which happens, the team stood up for themselves which is good and we all have our backs here." Said Maxime Crepeau.
In terms of the trying to play out of the back regardless if there are early issues, "We want to be a team that is able to break teams, we need to pound on that, from myself, the center backs, the midfield, and my outlets would be the fullbacks and Cava (Cavallini) up top or the Number 9." On the team playing a low backline defending at the end of the match. "They pushed for the equalizer, I think any team anywhere does that when there is a little bit of pressure and there is moments when we were in their half and the last 20 they were in our half."
Marc Dos Santos spoke after the second match with the youngsters but the focus was on the first game against the Chicago Fire. "I think that a lot of the things we want to apply in our model of play we showed against Chicago. A lot of exciting signs of a team that hasn't worked a lot together yet. But we have a core of guys that have been together and that helps. We scored good goals, we were aggressive especially in the first half moving forward. I think the moments of transition were really good, our reactions were good... But I still don't think the two goals we conceded we need to do a much better job."
On the play of Lucas Cavallini and the interchanging dynamics between him and Deiber Caicedo and Dajome, "They get along off the field, they are very good friends off the field and then [on] the field they try and play in a way where they are never in the same position. They interchange a lot and there is a lot of ability and speed to move forward."
On looking ahead to the Match against Portland, "Portland is playing Marathon on last Tuesday, they play Marathon again Tuesday and they are playing to get Rythm but also to qualify for the next stage of Champions League so we have that in the back of our heads when we are in training our exhibition games we are trying to bring all our energy out."
Marc Dos Santos on the play of Dajome and the tactical high press that Whitecaps used Saturday, "You know we want to be a team that recognizes very well the moments of pressure and we're aggressive doing it, and I think in a lot of moments we were able to do a good job with that...Cristian is a player that's very close to playing any place in the attack, he has a very good mindset for the team."
The Unnamed Moments of The Match
I am also in preseason mode with my Whitecaps articles so bear with me while my fitness returns. But I will still be bringing you post-game media and my Unnamed Moments of the Match. And if you remember back to last season they can be just about anything. Today I will keep it pretty simple with 3 moments;
Goal Of The Match: Lucas Cavallini
Was there any doubt what the goal of the match would be? It seems that penalty kicks are not Cava's bread and butter but free kicks might be. The Canadian Striker scored the brace to put Vancouver ahead 3-1 with an amazing placed strike. That is 6 goals in his 3 last games of competition for Cavallini as he seems to be in a regular-season form already.
Media Moment Of The Match: AFTN And MDS
Michael McColl of AFTN is usually the first member of media with his hand up and today was no different. The response from Head coach Marc Dos Santos about speaking with Michael again was...
I don't know if I feel worse for MDS or his wife?
Moment Of The Match: The Vancouver Whitecaps Are Back!
That's right, the Vancouver Whitecaps are back! It may have only been a preseason game, but that it was streamed live, with an announcer, against another MLS club so it had a bit of a special feel. The Whitecaps strike early and hold on for the 3-2 win to get Caps fans ready for the regular season.
Sports Talk Line And The Vancouver Whitecaps
The Vancouver Whitecaps kick off their regular season on Sunday, April 18th at home to the Portland Timbers. Of course at home means Sandy, Utah right now. But it is still technically a home match. Make sure to tune into the Sports Talk Line website for the latest news about your Vancouver Whitecaps. Follow me on Twitter for pre-game, during the game, and post-game comments and analysis.
Also, make sure to check out The Unnamed Sports Show all season long for great interviews with the team and other great soccer minds as we go from the opening kick-off to decision day and beyond. Check out the latest episode with Theo Bair of the Vancouver Whitecaps.
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