TORONTO—For Vancouver Whitecaps FC and head coach, Carl Robinson, Saturday's wild 4-3 victory in Toronto was a big one.
Not only did they collect their first win in four attempts at BMO Field in league play – and stretch their winning streak to three straight – but also picked up their first road win since March, having lost each of their previous three away from home.
It all came with the odds stacked against them: short-handed, on two days rest, and thousands of miles from home.
“Very proud,” Robinson said. “[That group in there] deserve all the credit in the world because everything in the lead up to the game was against us. But we weren't going to use it as an excuse.”
“We rode our luck a little bit at times,” admitted the former TFC midfielder. “You need to do that, especially away from home. I think we got what we deserved.
“'Go and enjoy yourself', I said it to the players, because sometimes you're tired mentally after two, three games in a week,. I said, ‘If you don't want to play in front of 30,000 on a perfect pitch, in the second home game of the season, in a derby game, against your rivals, you shouldn't play the game.’”
One of those who took that message to heart was Kekuta Manneh, who netted a brace and added an assist on what proved to be the game-winner.
“He enjoyed himself,” Robinson said. “When he does, and plays like he does, he's able to do things, unlock defenses. I think people forget he's only 21 years of age. He's still got a long way to go, he's a huge talent.”
It was the long bursting runs of Manneh, and his partner-in-crime, Erik Hurtado, that stretched the usually solid Toronto defenses into an unrecognizable mess.
“Playing Erik gives us the outlet of pace up top,” Robinson said. “He’s done himself a world of good. He's an example to all my young players. He's come in in preseason, he hasn't sulked, he's got on with his work, he's put his head down when he's not been involved, he's had to play in the USL, he's done it. He's not knocked on my door and asked me why he's not playing. He deserved his chance today and I thought he was excellent.”
Another worthy of singular praise was goalkeeper David Ousted, who was pivotal in Vancouver helping themselves to the full points.
“[Ousted was] very key; it could have ended up 7-7 – that would have been a spectacle,” Robinson joked. “David came up big with a penalty save, then, when we're down to 10 men with an unfortunate injury, we let [Sebastian Giovinco] do a little bit of magic and score. That really, really bugged me.
“He's disappointed because he conceded three goals. But I'm so proud of him.”