Vancouver Whitecaps forward Kenny Miller holds nerve on penalty re-take to beat Houston Dynamo
VANCOUVER, B.C. -- It was the goal that sealed Saturday's victory for the Vancouver Whitecaps. And it nearly wasn't.
On the play, the Scottish Designated Player slotted home into the bottom right corner of Tally Hall's goal.
But seconds before he scored the goal that counted, he had his first successful effort from the spot called back, as referee Kevin Stott spotted an infringement.
“It's a lot tougher when you've scored the first one,” Miller told reporters with a laugh following the match when asked if taking a spot kick twice increases the difficulty. “It's obviously easier if you miss [a pulled back penalty], but sometimes it happens. A little bit of encroachment and sometimes the referees will make you take it again.
“But fortunate enough, I managed to put it away.”
Fellow striker Darren Mattocks generated the penalty by running at his former Akron teammate Kofi Sarkodie. The Jamaican bested his good friend on the play, feinting one way as Sarkodie went to ground, handling the ball in the area.
“I thought he done fantastic,” Miller said of Mattocks. “All throughout the game he was a threat, in behind with his pace, and obviously it was his run that led to the penalty, so great performance.”
After favoring a 4-2-3-1 formation in the first three matches, head coach Carl Robinson threw a curveball at the Dynamo by fielding a 4-4-2, which allowed both Miller and Mattocks to play as center forwards rather than shunting one out to play in a wide role, which has provided mixed results early this season.
“I made the decision on Thursday,” Robinson said of his thought process in making the switch. “I said that I wanted Kenny and Darren to both be in the team, but I wanted Pedro [Morales] to play. So I tweaked a little bit of a formation and played with a diamond today.
“I thought it would catch Houston out, and I think in the first half an hour it did, and we got our goals.”
Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com.