VANCOUVER, British Columbia — The second half told the story on Friday night, as Cristian Techera`s marker from the spot gave the Vancouver Whitecaps the game-winning marker in the 75th minute, and insurance followed from Anthony Blondell in the 79th, as Real Salt Lake fell 2-0 in front of 19,283 fans at BC Place on Friday evening.
It was a tough pill to swallow for RSL, who played a sound match in their end of the park for the first 74 minutes, but some increased pressure by Vancouver in the second half eventually led to a collision in the box, and the PK attempt for Techera, who made no mistake. The diminutive midfielder did err in taking off his uniform in celebration after the goal, drawing a second yellow card, and an ejection from the match.
The goal was a killer for the road team, and a sigh of relief for Vancouver, who had not found the back of the net at home since opening day against Montreal Impact on March 4.
“It’s a cruel sport sometimes,” RSL head coach Mike Petke said after the match.
“Carl and the Whitecaps have been going through some rough times the last few games. I’ve certainly been there. I’m very happy and proud with the way my team played for three quarters of the game. At the end of the day, we didn’t put the ball in the net, and they did.”
Anthony Blondell would ensure the home crowd would go home happy, finishing off a strong effort from Alphonso Davies at the right side of the goal to tip one past Nick Rimando for a 2-0 lead. The tally was Blondell`s first career MLS goal, and he was subbed off in the 85th minute to a nice salute from the home fans.
The fountain of youth served again on the back line, as Brooks Lennon, Justen Glad, Nick Belser, and 19-year-old Pablo Ruiz began the match. The boss was pleased with the way that group performed, even if Vancouver was able to create a little bit more in the second half.
“The calmness on the ball they had tonight, was something that – I know they all had it in them, but it’s something we’ve seen in bits and pieces throughout the season,” Petke said.
Overall, the head coach was pleased with the effort but would liked to have seen the club be a little more aggressive in the second half.
The youth that served RSL so well a week ago in Colorado were able to match the attacking mentality of the Whitecaps' Brek Shea and Anthony Blondell in the opening half to set the tone at their own end of the park, which should continue to bode well for the future of the club.
Salt Lake looked like the better team offensively for much of this game, as Albert Rusnak controlled things in the middle of the field. Rusnak was also denied on a free kick in the 11th minute by Vancouver`s Stefan Marinovic, an easy stop for the keeper moving to his left.
The best chances for RSL in the opening half came when Corey Baird stepped into a ball just inside the 18-yard box and had Marinovic beat, but the ball clanged off the bar, and Marinovic was alert in scrambling to his left to deny Jefferson Savarino on the following attempt.
Joao Plata had a stellar opportunity just before halftime, but his strike towards the top left corner from just inside the box was met by the outstretched hand of the New Zealand product. Plata added another ball on target in the 52nd minute, but Marinovic was able to make the stop.
The loss dropped Salt Lake to 6th in the Western Conference and were leapfrogged by the Whitecaps on the day.
RSL will continue a tough stretch away from Rio Tinto Stadium next Sunday in Orlando before returning home to battle DC United on May 12th.