Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By JOEL HOOVER
The Vancouver Whitecaps came into Saturday’s match with the Philadelphia Union as the last team in MLS with an unbeaten home record.
But thanks to an early red card and a late goal from substitute Antoine Hoppenot, the Union ensured the Caps’ home mark would come to an end.
Hoppenot’s 85th-minute winner off the bench broke 10-man Vancouver’s resistance as the Union snatched a 1-0 win at BC Place in Vancouver. The Whitecaps played over 80 minutes of the match down a man after Jun Marques Davidson’s early dismissal.
The Union goal came from the work of Hoppenot and Aaron Wheeler, another substitute brought on in the second half by Union manager John Hackworth. A driving run through the middle of the field by Hoppenot allowed him to feed Wheeler the ball on the edge of the penalty area. The big forward backheeled the ball back to Hoppenot, who finished with his left foot past Brad Knighton for the game-winner and his third goal of the season.
Prior to the goal, the match’s key flashpoint was the early red card to Davidson, which took place with just eight minutes gone. As Davidson and Keon Daniel were both challenging for the ball along the sideline, Davidson went to ground and Daniel kicked out at him while trying to win the ball.
A foul was called on Daniel, but Davidson headbutted Daniel as he got back to his feet. Davidson was immediately shown a red card by referee Baldomero Toledo, and Daniel received a yellow card.
Despite it being the 10th match this season that an opponent of the Union’s has gone down a man, Vancouver still took the initiative with quick counter attacks and several good chances throughout the first half. Russell Teibert came close with a chip that just missed over the crossbar, while Kenny Miller also saw a right-footed effort miss wide of the post after he was played in.
At the other end, the Union struggled to create opportunities and movement on the edge of the box, while Jack McInerney struggled with his touch up front as the lone striker.
The second half saw Vancouver continue to find chances to press quickly on the counter attack. Despite Miller having to come off due to injury, substitute Kekuta Manneh worked a chance on a counter with Camilo but fired an effort off the post in the 51st minute. In total, Vancouver matched Philadelphia with five shots on goal.
With the early red card as the catalyst, the match took on a very chippy tone for both sides. In total, 27 fouls were called and five yellow cards were handed out, with three of them going to the Union. Such a pace and mentality started to wear Vancouver down as the second half progressed, allowing the Union more space and time to create chances.
McInerney fashioned a few chances in the penalty area midway through the second half, but Knighton and the Vancouver backline held firm and increased the young striker’s goal drought in MLS to five straight matches.
However, they could not keep Hoppenot and Wheeler from working a late winner for the visitors.
The win was the Union’s (9-6-7) first on the road since May 11th, keeping them at fourth in the Eastern Conference. Vancouver (9-7-5) had entered the match 7-0-3 at home this season.
Philadelphia will host the Chicago Fire next Saturday, following a midweek friendly with English Premier League side Stoke City on Tuesday. Meanwhile, Vancouver heads to Portland next Saturday for a Cascadia Cup match with the Timbers.
Here are the match highlights: