The Vancouver Whitecaps played their first home game in over three weeks Sunday afternoon against the visiting Houston Dynamo. Vancouver dominated early on and walked away with a much deserved 3-1 victory in front of 18,811 fans. Whitecaps rookie striker Darren Mattocks was the man of the match scoring a goal in each half and electrifying the crowd every time he touched the ball. The twenty-one year old Jamaican speedster had Whitecaps fans on the edge of their seat throughout the game. Whitecaps coach Martin Rennie selected Mattocks over the likes of Eric Hassli, Etienne Barbara and Camilo hoping Mattocks could get behind the Dynamo defense and score goals and that’s exactly what he did.
The Whitecaps took the game to the Dynamo early on and Houston looked like they didn’t have their legs ready to go and that’s what led to the early goal for Vancouver in the 4th minute. Whitecaps right back Y.P. Lee sprinted down the wing into the box and sent a brilliant cross to Mattocks. Mattocks got his entire body behind his kick and riffled the ball into the top right corner of the net. Houston Dynamo goalie Tally Hall had no chance on the play and did not look sharp during the entire 90 minutes. The Whitecaps continued to be the better team going forward until the Dynamo finally figured out what they were supposed to be doing on a soccer pitch in beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia.
Dynamo midfielder Brad Davis took a dangerous corner in the 19th minute that bounced off a pain of Dynamo players heads before being cleared to safety by Sebastien Le Toux. Houston nearly tied the game in the 28th minute when Whitecaps goalie Joe Cannon had a brain cramp and kicked the ball directly to Dynamo striker Brian Ching. The Houston captain fired the ball well wide of the net because he probably wasn’t expecting to receive such a lovely pass from the Whitecaps keeper. Cannon rebounded from his gaffe and made a tremendous point-blank save off of Dynamo defender Bobby Boswell. Boswell, was left unmarked in front of the Whitecaps net and Cannon got a hand on the ball just in time to keep the Whitecaps up 1-0 headed into half time.
Houston continued to out play the Whitecaps early on in the second half but was unable to tie the game. The Dynamo played in their bright orange jerseys and at times looked a lot like the Netherlands who could not find away to score against Denmark at Euro 2012 on Saturday.
Y.P. Lee had another great game for the Whitecaps and was involved in a give and go with Darren Mattocks in the 61st minute that looked a lot like the goal Mattocks scored in the first half. Unfortunately this time Mattocks was no able to get enough power behind his shot and Dynamo goalie Tally Hall had no problem making the easy save. Mattocks would finally strike again in the 65th minute when Gershon Koffie sent in a perfect through ball to spring Mattocks on a breakaway. Mattocks used his right foot to kick the ball past the awkwardly diving Hall to give his team a 2-0 advantage.
Midfielder Gershon Koffie played a one of his best games in a Whitecaps uniform and was instrumental in creating lots of scoring chances against Houston. Koffie was able to use his vision and terrific passing ability to put Mattocks, in several dangerous opportunities to produce goals. Koffie sent a through ball up to Mattocks in the 79th minute and Mattocks tried to pick the far corner but had his shot roll well wide of the Houston net. Koffie and Mattocks seem to have some chemistry between them and it worked out brilliantly for the Whitecaps on Sunday. Koffie talked about the play of Darren Mattocks after the game. “I know he can run that fast. I keep telling him at practice that as soon as he can run he should just keep going and I will put the ball behind the defenders.”
Houston coach Dominic Kinnear brought on Colin Clark, and Macoumba Kandji for Luiz Camargo, and Brian Ching in the 71st minute. Kandji scored the lone goal for the Dynamo in the 83rd minute after the ball was crossed in by Brian Ownby who came on for Nathan Sturgis in the 78th minute. Kandji had the ball find its way past Joe Cannon after going through a maze of Whitecaps players.
Houston wasn’t able to find the equalizing goal and Vancouver restored their two-goal lead in the 88th minute. The Whitecaps used all three of their substitutions in the second half and the biggest contribution off the bench came from defender Jordan Harvey. Davide Chiumiento was taken off in the 78th minute for defensive purposes and Harvey who is not known for his offensive ability scored the 3-1 goal for the Whitecaps. Gershon Koffie made a wonderful pass through the Dynamo box that found Harvey at the back post. Houston goalie Tally Hall was late to come across and Harvey made no mistake scoring his first career goal for the Whitecaps.
On what turned out to be a sunny afternoon in Vancouver the Whitecaps played terrific in the first and last 20 minutes of the game and just ok in between. The Houston Dynamo had plenty of opportunities to score and change the outcome of the game but in the end Joe Cannon, and the Whitecaps defenders stood tall and shut the door. The emergence and success of Darren Mattocks made all the difference and that was exactly what the Whitecaps needed. Mattocks was very popular after the game as he talked about the teams great play. “It’s really amazing. We’ve been working really hard all week after a two week break, so it’s really good that we had a fantastic performance our first game back. We’ve just got to keep working hard, stay disciplined and focused, and realize that this is just one of many games in a season.”
Notes: Whitecaps forward Long Tan was not part of the team on Sunday because he has been suspended indefinitely for comments posted on the social media website twitter early Friday morning. The Whitecaps will host the Colorado Rapids on Saturday, June 16th at 4:00 pm PT. The Houston Dynamo return home to face Texas state rivals FC Dallas also on Saturday, June 16th.