VANCOUVER, B.C. – It was an inauspicious time for the Vancouver Whitecaps to match up against the hottest attack in MLS.
The ‘Caps were missing four starters from their Cascadia Cup win down in Seattle last weekend, including both their first-choice center backs, Kendall Waston and Tim Parker. So head coach Carl Robinson turned to two veterans to plug that hole against the red-hot Houston Dynamo: Pa-Modou Kah and midfielder turned center back Andrew Jacobson.
They were moves that paid off. The Whitecaps defense kept Houston–who had scored a league record 11 goals through the first three games of the season–off the board on their way to a 1-0 win Saturday night at BC Place.
"Very pleased with them today," Robinson said of his team after the match. "We knew it was going to be a tough game, and we had a couple of players out. I said prior to the game I wouldn't use that as an excuse. We have a squad for a reason, so we give players an opportunity to play. The guys that stepped in did themselves a lot of good."
Vancouver took the game to Houston in the early going, in a fast-paced start that saw them create chance after chance and kept Joe Willis busy in the Dynamo goal. They then went on to stave off some strong pressure from the visitors in the second half.
“The first 30 minutes that we played today was probably as good as we've played this season,” Robinson said. "I was disappointed we only had one goal to show for it, because we missed some very good chances. When you only score one goal when you create three, four, five good chances, you always leave yourself a little bit vulnerable, and that's what happened."
The stout defensive performance made Pedro Morales’ first-half penalty kick–his fourth from the spot this season–stand up.
As delighted as he was with Vancouver's first home win and first clean sheet of the season, Robinson knows that one big question remains for his side. When will they score a goal this year that doesn't come from a set piece?
"We're creating chances, which is good," Robinson said. "I know people will say we still haven't scored a goal from open play, but it wasn't about that today. It was about getting three points on the board."