The Vancouver Whitecaps didn't just beat the Colorado Rapids on Wednesday night at Dick's Sporting Goods Park – they conquered a sold-out Fourth of July crowd, the altitude and the heat, with temperatures soaring near 100 degrees. And the 1-0 win was a big one for the visitors.
“We knew we needed a response from [the 3-0 loss to LA Galaxy last match],” goalkeeper Joe Cannon told Vancouver radio station TEAM 1410 following the match. “It showed. It was gutsy tonight. We were fortunate but we had a gameplan coming in. With these conditions, it was really difficult to play and get on the front foot and get after these guys.”
Cannon reacted to the humid environment by wearing shorts rather than his usual padded pants, and rolled them up to a comically high level to get some extra ventilation. The move seemed to work, as he made six saves and made several important interventions.
HIGHLIGHTS: Colorado 0, Vancouver 1
“Oh man, I was dying even before warmup,” Cannon said. “It seemed sticky – it was really hot tonight so I just decided to wear some shorts tonight and give my legs a little breather, and luckily it worked out because otherwise I would have passed out.”
Darren Mattocks banged the game-winner home in the 43rd minute, latching onto a failed clearance from Rapids defender Drew Moor to score on what was Vancouver’s only shot on target of the night.
“He took it really well,” head coach Martin Rennie told reporters in reference to Mattocks’ goal. “He only really had that chance, and he finished it really well. At other times, we had a couple other chances, half chances, if we’d been a little bit cleaner we might have at least troubled [Colorado 'keeper] Matt Pickens a little bit more.
“Overall, that was an excellent performance. When you consider coming from Vancouver to this heat and to the altitude being a little bit higher on a night where it’s the Fourth of July and everyone’s here for a party to see Colorado do well, we’ve done well to come into their stadium and get a good win.”
After that it was a case of the Whitecaps sitting back and absorbing pressure, as the Rapids controlled the tempo with 60 percent possession, generating several quality opportunities through Conor Casey, who seemed to forget his shooting boots at home.
Despite the low amount of possession and his team’s defensive approach, Rennie was just happy to claim the club’s third road win of the season, after similarly grinding out wins against Chivas USA and the Columbus Crew earlier this season.
“That’s the important thing on the road,” Rennie said. “The crowd are all here to see the home team make the game and make the tempo, and be creative and exciting, and the away team has to just make sure they stay in the game and make sure they’re hard to play against and hard to beat and ... those three games have followed a similar pattern, and one that we’re happy with.”
Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com.