Tell me if you’ve heard this one before.
A Major League soccer club went down to Mexico for a knockout-round clash in the CONCACAF Champions League, played strong for 75-80 minutes and then gave up a dagger late in the contest.
The Vancouver Whitecaps followed that formula to perfection on Tuesday night in their 2-0 loss to Tigres in the first leg of their CCL semifinal at the Estadio Universitario.
Carl Robinson’s men dealt with the storm of pressure put forward by the Tigres attack led by Andre-Pierre Gignac for the first half, mainly due to the play of David Ousted in between the pipes. The organized 4-4-2 formation held up and Robinson was preparing to bring in a fresh body or two in an attempt to steal an away goal.
However, all of the hard work was undone in the 67th minute, when Gignac’s cross from the left side of the box bounced off a sliding Kendall Waston and into the back of the net.
As frustrating as the own goal was, the Whitecaps were still in a decent position to go back to BC Place down a goal to the Liga MX side, and they almost had an away goal of their own in the 78th minute, but Nicolas Mezquida’s shot off a turnover skidded well right of the net.
The dagger from Tigres came in the 87th minute, when Eduardo Vargas slammed a shot from the top of the box into the net. The late strike followed the disheartening trend of MLS sides putting up valiant efforts in big CCL games, but running out of defensive steam in the end.
Ousted, who was sent off on Saturday in San Jose, recorded six saves and was in the right position on other occasions to limit the damage, but he still let in two goals, albeit one on a deflection from his teammate.
The Whitecaps will try to reverse the two-goal deficit at home on April 5. The other MLS team left in the competition, FC Dallas, hosts Club Pachuca of Liga MX on Wednesday at Toyota Stadium.
Man of the Match
Vargas was one of many active attackers in the final third for Tigres, and he finished off a successful first leg with his 87th-minute strike from the top of the box.
Moment of the Match
Waston’s own goal in the 67th minute was debilitating to the Whitecaps’ morale after 66 minutes of shutout defending. If the Whitecaps made it to the 80th minute at 0-0, they might have had a chance of leaving Mexico with a positive result.
Match to Forget
Sure, Waston’s own goal was awful, but it wasn’t the most painful thing to watch on the field on Tuesday night. Brek Shea’s terrible attempt at a dive in the 60th minute was a perfect representation of his poor night. The former Stoke City man never got anything going up top for the Whitecaps, which led them to defend almost all of the match.