VANCOUVER, B.C. – Same score, different result.
After falling to Real Salt Lake 2-1 two weeks ago, the Vancouver Whitecaps returned the favor on Saturday, winning by the same scoreline via goals from Camilo and Dane Richards.
And the club did it with the help of two players who haven’t been on the pitch much – or at all – this season. Brad Knighton (above) played in goal for his first Whitecaps start in MLS league play, while recent signing Andy O’Brien was forced into the match 31 minutes in after captain Jay DeMerit went down with a head injury for his club debut.
“I’m not entirely sure what [DeMerit’s] status is,” head coach Martin Rennie said after the match. “He did get a head knock, and it looked to me that he was concussed – that’s not official, that’s just my opinion. So we’ll just have to wait and see. He’s been such a big player for us this season and done so well.”
O’Brien has had just over a week of training with his new team since signing as a free agent from Leeds United in the English Championship, but didn’t look out of place in the backline.
HIGHLIGHTS: VAN 2, RSL 1
“My opportunity came, unfortunately because Jay got injured,” O’Brien told reporters. “But yeah, [I was] delighted to get on and win the game.”
Knighton also stepped in for the match, replacing the suspended Joe Cannon.
"I thought [Knighton] did well," Rennie said. "I thought he communicated well and organized the defense well. I thought he was a bit unlucky not to get the clean sheet at the end, but he looked good."
In some ways, the lack of anticipation might have actually helped O'Brien ease in for his club debut.
“Sometimes it’s better when you’re just thrown in and you don’t have too much to think about,” O’Brien said. “I was delighted with the fact that we won the game...and they’re a decent team.”
A decent team indeed. RSL sit third in the MLS with 42 points on the campign, and this victory is a big boost for a Vancouver team making a push for its first MLS Cup playoff appearance.
“Our record is good at home and I think a lot of credit to the fans for building it up and making it hard for the opposition,” Rennie said. “Disappointing to lose the goal at the end, but at the point the game was almost over. We’re really pleased. That’s our 10th win of the season and it gets us set up for a big game against Dallas.”
Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com.