VANCOUVER, B.C. -- The Vancouver Whitecaps recorded their first ever victory in the CONCACAF Champions League with a narrow, but vital, 1-0 win over Honduran champions CD Olimpia at BC Place on Wednesday night.
Whitecaps coach Carl Robinson was expecting a tough, physical battle heading into the match and his side were put under some late pressure as Olimpia pressed for the equaliser, but defended resolutely to grab all three points.
"Our game management was excellent," Robinson told reporters after the match. "It was exactly the way I thought it would play out. It was a very tough game, we knew that. We knew it would be a test for us but we managed to get our noses in front in the first half and we played very very well.
"We huffed and puffed in the second half but we defended brilliantly. Tactically the boys were fantastic today, against a very good team."
It was a win that sees Vancouver move into a strong position in Group F with two games to go. A win in Seattle next Wednesday against the third side in the group, the Sounders, would see Vancouver advance to the knockout stages with a game to spare.
The all-important lone goal game three minutes before halftime and it was Homegrown product Kianz Froese who looped the ball home after Darren Mattocks got tangled up in the box.
It was a strange finish and one that puzzled veteran striker Robert Earnshaw, who told reporters after the match that he asked the 19-year-old "explain to me how that's gone in?" Froese wasn't entirely clear himself but was delighted to grab his first Champions League goal.
"I wasn't too sure," Froese admitted with a laugh. "I tried to get myself centrally and then I thought Darren would shoot and if it got blocked then maybe I would be in there. It got stuck in his feet and I kicked it and it went in.
"Being able to score a goal in a competition like this is always a great feeling. To be able to help the team win a game is the best feeling for me."
The goal came almost a year to the day since Froese sign a professional homegrown contract with the Whitecaps last year.
It's been a whirlwind first season for the midfielder, with a debut in front of over 50,000 fans in Seattle, nine MLS appearances in total and now a Champions League goal to go with his first ever pro goal against the New York Red Bulls in June.
"I've played quite a few games," Froese said of his first year as a pro. "I wasn't expecting to play so much. I'm happy with the way the year's went and the minutes I've gotten. It's enjoyable and I feel that I've got better as a player."
His coach agrees but feels that there's still a lot of development room and improvement in the Canadian international's game and feels games like Wednesday's win are an ideal place for that to happen.
"Kianz played 45 minutes against Colorado last game and made a difference when he came on," Robinson said. "He needs to do that. I did challenge him to be more proactive, rather than reactive, and he took that on board. But it was a good shift from him today. He was one of a number of young players that got valuable minutes."