Sunday, August 7, 2011

Whitecaps Provide Fireworks Against Chicago

The finale for the Symphony of Fire was on Saturday night but the Whitecaps with a little help from Eric Hassli continued the fireworks at Empire Field with a 4-2 victory over the Chicago Fire.  The scoreline actually flattered the visitors from the East as the Caps dominated play and the Fire were forced to consistently foul the Vancouver attackers.  In addition to Hassli’s brace the other goals were scored by Camilo and Koffie while Chicago responded with goals by Oduro and Barouch.

It did not take long for Vancouver to open scoring as an error by a Fire defender gave Hassli the ball on a break and the French striker made no mistake with a world class finish as he fired the goal past Sean Johnson in the first minute.  The Caps continued their pressure for the first twenty minutes but could not find the second early goal.  It was costly as the Fire equalized after a speedy run by Dominic Oduro put him alone on Nolly as he fired over the outstretched arms of the goalkeeper.

The goal did not bring down the spirits of the Whitecaps as less than a minute later Koffie took a pass from Hassli and put the home side up once again on a long range blast.  With a couple of minutes left in the half the Caps had an opportunity to go up two as a penalty was called after Camilo was tackled inside the box.  Unfortunately, Hassli was unable to convert as Johnson was able to guess right on the play and kept the score at 2-1 going into the half. 

The missed penalty did not affect the mentality of the Caps as within three minutes after the start of the second half, the two goal lead was established with Camilo making a skilful turn around the defender and then fired the ball past Johnson.  After sustaining a little pressure from the Fire, the Caps extended their lead to three as a scramble, off a Camilo free kick, was converted by Hassli for his second of the night.  Chicago was able to score another goal to cut the lead to two but it would get no closer as the Whitecaps held on to the 4-2 result and the three points.

It was a game needed by all after the demoralizing 4 goal loss to the Galaxy a week before.  More importantly they gained confidence by finishing their chances, something that has been lacking most of the year.  Another positive was their drive to continue to add to their lead even when they led the Fire by two early in the second as there was no nursing any lead in this game.  The central midfield duo of Koffie and Vagenas continued their strong play which included the second goal of the season coming from the position, Dunfield scoring the first in the opener.

While there are still items to work on for the Whitecaps, the backline, this game provided many positive results going forward in the season.  The playoffs may be out of reach but the Caps still don’t want to finish at the bottom of the table as well as other attainable goals, Cascadia Cup, and this result helps with those goals.  The Whitecaps now travel to the east coast and attempt to carry the confidence gained from this result as they face for the first time a D.C. United side that has struggled at home which could be an opportunity for them to pick up their first road win.

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