But it was another American’s return which marked the difference in Vancouver’s 1-0 victory.
With his 84th-minute breakaway goal, Whitecaps midfielder Brek Shea beat Howard and lifted Vancouver to their second consecutive road win following last week’s 2-1 victory in Montreal. It was Shea’s first appearance in five matches as he made his return from the knee injury that forced him out of the Whitecaps’ 2-1 CONCACAF Champions League defeat to Mexican side Tigres on April 5.
“I wanted to give him a few more minutes, but I have to be careful because he picked up a knock,” Whitecaps manager Carl Robinson said of Shea’s performance. “It was the right time because Colorado were on top, I think. To bring him and Alphonso [Davies] in within a five to 10-minute period was always the plan and he showed his quality going through.”
The goal was an important tipping point for Vancouver, who resisted constant pressure from Colorado in the second half, led by the first full 90-minute appearance from Rapids Designated Player Shkëlzen Gashi, who led Colorado with five shots (but only one on target).
“There wasn’t brilliant football played,” Robinson said of the match. “It wasn’t exciting. But there was lots of energy in the game, lots of mistakes and lots of shots from long range. But fortunately for us, we managed to take the one clear cut chance.”
With Colorado advanced into Vancouver’s half, Whitecaps midfielder Nicolas Mezquida found Shea with a long ball, allowing the winger to run past Rapids defender Bobby Burling and finish between Howard’s legs.
“He’s scored some important goals and given us something different,” Whitecaps defender Sheanon Williams said of his teammate. “I’ve known him since I was 15 years old. It’s great when you know guys that have been around for years and years. He’s come into our locker room and has been a great guy for us.”
It marked another step forward for Shea, who has been praised by Whitecaps players and coaches since joining the club back in February via a trade from Orlando City SC.
“He’s been a massive part of that locker room in there,” said Robinson. “People have always got their opinions on Brek, and I firmly believe and have confidence in him. I think he’s a super talent. He’s still young, he’s still got a lot of football ahead of him and my job is to make him feel confident so he goes out and expresses himself on the pitch like he did today.”