New York City FC chased a fourth-successive win in Vancouver, following back-to-back victories over Cincinnati, Columbus and Red Bulls.
Dome Torrent made two enforced changes to his XI, bringing in Tony Rocha and Ben Sweat for the suspended Alex Ring and Ronald Matarrita. Kicking off just after Philadelphia’s 3-1 win over Atlanta United, NYCFC knew three points at BC Place would move them into second place with games in hand on the leaders.
They made the perfect start, taking the lead with just 10 minutes on the clock. It was a slick finish from Héber, who took a through ball on his instep and struck with the outside of his foot under the goalkeeper to make it 1-0.
Sadly, the Brazilian’s night was cut short by injury when he pulled up on 21’.
Birthday boy Gary Mackay entered in place of the striker who has now scored 14 goals in MLS. Mackay-Steven didn’t take long to make an impression, opening his NYCFC account with a clipped finish on 26’, just five minutes after his introduction.
The chance came from a turnover high up the field in the Vancouver third and was typical of the intensity shown by the Boys in Blue in the first half.
There was one moment of panic in the first 45’ when the referee pointed to the spot for a Vancouver penalty but VAR adjudged that Sean Johnson had not committed a foul and overturned the initial decision.
On 35’, Torrent’s men almost took the lead when a brilliant move led by Alexandru Mitrita culminated in a shot by Taty Castellanos which was blocked on the line.
2-0 it stayed going in at the break but Vancouver hit back early in the second period through Yordy Reyna, who volleyed in on 64’ from across the box into the top corner.
It came after Vancouver’s best spell in the game, the 15′ after the halftime break.
However, it wouldn’t stay that way long… Mitriță left his mark and finished Vancouver off with a whipping free-kick from 25 yards out on 72, bringing the ball in at the goalkeeper’s near post expertly.
That made it 3-1 which is how it stayed, clinching City’s place in the postseason at a record early date.
New York City FC Head Coach Domènec Torrent
On the game…
“ It was very important for us. When I say we have to focus in the next game, that is true. For me the most important thing is the next game and, right now, that’s New England. The most important thing is to get three points again and maybe we have some problems in the second half because we didn’t defend compact, but we were able to score three goals and we could score more goals. It’s very important because it’s the fourth game in a row we won and when that happens in the last seven games, it’s very important because we will try to finish in the first position, if not in the second because I know how important it is, especially this year, for the playoffs because it’s important to play at home because it’s a knockout game. They [the players] deserved that because they fight everything day and I’m happy for them, for the club, for the supporters. It is special for us in this moment because the feeling is much better, but we have to improve. I’m happy, but we have to improve.”
On response to goal…
“I am happy because they respond when we had some problems, I’m happy because look at the difference in the last 10 minutes for example, we take the ball and pass the ball. That didn’t happen for example against Colorado. I remember we had many problems and that means we play much better and this team is getting better.”
On Heber’s injury…
“He has discomfort in the quadriceps. I don’t know, we have to check it out in New York.”
New York City FC Forward Gary Mackay-Steven
On scoring on his birthday…
“I think it’s first [time he’s scored on his birthday] so it’s nice to get off the mark. Extra special it’s my birthday, but the main thing is getting the three points and I thought the boys done really well today, so it’s a good victory again.”
On getting subbed in early…
“Héber scored a great goal and he’s been on fire recently, so hopefully it’s nothing serious for him and he’s back for the next game because he’s been a big player for us lately. But yeah, you don’t have much time to think about it, you just have to get stripped and go on. But you’re always ready when you’re on the bench and I was happy to get on and play my part today and still feel there is a lot more to come and still feel a little bit rusty in a lot of ways, but definitely the goal helps and I can kick on.”
On reaching full potential…
“I’ve not been happy with myself to be honest and I keep working hard on the training ground and today it was nice to get off the mark and hopefully it can kick start and I can show my true level.”
Vancouver Whitecaps FC Head Coach Marc Dos Santos
“Let me talk bad about Max today [and] the third goal … Max knows what I’m going to say … he knows how much I appreciate him and how much he’s given to the team. But in that third goal, we felt that there was a man lacking in the wall and the ball went through; a goal that we can’t concede in a moment that there’s a lot of belief in the team, and then we concede that third one and it becomes difficult.”
On Erice substitution…
“ No, the reason is we felt at 2-0 down we had to take a little more risk so we went from the 4-3-3 to a 4-2-3-1 where we brought Michaell in. So, an attacking player for a defensive midfielder. And we know that probably with the course of the game, John would probably get a little bit tired because of the amount of ground and what he covered against Montreal, plus the trip and he’s not 18-years-old right now. So, because of that we felt that it was a sub that we would take a little bit more risk, go at the opponent and that’s why we subbed him.”
On the penalty result…
“Because of the way we came out in the second half that penalty would give us the momentum even more because if you go back and watch the first 20 minutes of the second half, we were a team that went at them. We tried and we created and there’s chances that were just a little bit unlucky. In the first half the cross from Scott [Sutter], it goes between the legs of Tos [Tosaint Ricketts] and that could have been a goal. When Michaell cut inside he has all the second post open, it goes wide. So, we have chances, so for sure, that that goal in that moment would have been very important, so that’s why I don’t want to talk about that play because it’s a play that I really feel would have made a difference.”
Vancouver Whitecaps FC Defender Doneil Henry
On team effort in the last three games…
“San Jose, we got popped. I don’t know what it was but when you look across the board … this was not what we are. We went to Montreal, and I thought we played really well and we didn’t get anything out of it. I thought today again, we did enough to get a result, even a tie. That’s the most frustrating thing about football. Sometimes it can be really cruel, sometimes decisions impact games. [There’s] a lot of stuff that goes into a football match that’s out of our control, but what’s in our control is that we bring our effort and bring the right mentality every day.”
On mentality in the second half…
“We never put our heads down once in this game. We never thought that this game was over because of how good we came out flying. It’s really hard when you go down 2-0 to keep playing, but even at 2-0, the game was so wide open … I think on a better day, we’re clinical.”
“I think Jordy has been outstanding for this team especially in the last 7 to 10 games … You see effort, you see his momentum, you see his work rate … he shows you what kind of a player [he] is. Salute to him, he’s been fantastic for us.
On Dos Santos and the team’s rebuilding process…
“I salute Marc, he puts in major days, major hours … it’s never going to be easy when you make this [many] changes within a season … Trust Marc, give it time. I feel sorry for the fans, yes, they want it now, of course, but trust the process with us because the guys really want it and the guys want to make a difference here.”
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