Vancouver Whitecaps coach Carl Robinson credits "absolutely sensational" start for win
After coming from behind to salvage draws late in their last two games, the Vancouver Whitecaps got the job done early at home to San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday.
An opening strike from Kekuta Manneh was followed by two quick goals from Pedro Morales to give the Whitecaps a three goal lead just 20 minutes in, and the home side held off two Chris Wondolowski tallies to claim the 3-2 victory.
"I'm lost for words. I really am," Whitecaps head coach Carl Robinson told reporters postgame when asked about the quick start. "I challenged them at the start of the game because it was a fantastic occasion today for the club, the tradition of the club. I didn't want us to start slow, which we have done in a few recent games, so I challenged them.
"For 30 minutes we were absolutely sensational, we really were. [We] scored three goals, which was always nice, but also had a number of other good chances as well."
Going into the game the Whitecaps had only scored two first half goals from their total of 12 in eight matches. The earliest they had scored prior to Saturday was Jordan Harvey's 14th minute strike in the team's Week 4 win at home to Houston.
Late goals had been the team's specialty, with five in the last ten minutes of matches, but the focus all week in Vancouver was the need to get off to a fast start in games, especially at home. The players clearly took it on board.
"I think the energy in the beginning was the best since week one and the game was similar," Whitecaps captain Jay DeMerit told reporters. "We didn't give them time to make passes. Everything we cut out and guys got in their space.
"I think they dropped off in the first half and when you drop off and let Kekuta [Manneh] and Pedro [Morales] and Sebastian [Fernandez] run at you, they'll hurt you and I think we took advantage of that. We finished our chances, more than most games."
While the players took Robinson's challenge on and rose to the special occasion of commemorating the 40th anniversary of the original Whitecaps first ever match, the Welshman joked that he is playing down his role in the modern day Whitecaps' first win against Western opposition this season.
"I didn't really say too much in my team talk today," he noted. "I just said big game, big occasion, big players. After 30 minutes I'm sitting there thinking, maybe I shouldn't say too much before each game."