Home MLS Vancouver Whitecaps Le Toux goal, Bonjour block allow 10-man Whitecaps to beat Rapids

Le Toux goal, Bonjour block allow 10-man Whitecaps to beat Rapids

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Work, work, work and more than a dash of good fortune.

Those were the ingredients necessary for the Vancouver Whitecaps to defeat the Colorado Rapids 1-0 Saturday night at BC Place, despite playing the last half hour down a man after Darren Mattocks was dismissed for two yellows.

During a back-and-forth final 10 minutes, Sebastien Le Toux fired the Whitecaps ahead thanks to a fine ball from Davide Chiumiento, before the Rapids countered by hitting the crossbar, post and being denied by a superhuman defensive block from centre back Martin Bonjour.

“Fantastic block from Martin, then for [Martin Rivero] to hit the crossbar after that – and then the last one where [Hunter Freeman] tried to bend it in the far post – that was like slow motion,” said midfielder John Thorrington. “Joe [Cannon] made some good saves, defenders were fantastic, midfielders worked really hard, strikers helped close down – it was a true team performance and I think we got rewarded for a lot of hard work.

“Not just hard work that we put in today, but a lot of hard work we put in in training to give us the physical capacity to do that – it bears fruit on a day like this.”

Perhaps the most unbelievable piece of play in that final 10 minutes was the block from Bonjour, who stopped an Edu shot with a brave block right in front of Cannon’s goal following a rebound.

“When I first tipped it into the centre, I was thinking ‘uh oh,’” Cannon told The 11 following the match. “That’s an unfortunate rebound. Being a man down I think I figured it would be more likely one of their guys waiting, but then Martin, out of the blue, sacrificed. It’s something [head coach Martin Rennie] has been talking about all year long.

“Just guys throwing their bodies at things and the rewards to that is winning, and that feeling of team camaraderie and winning are why guys doing things like that, and it was probably the best save of the night.”

The circumstances of Mattocks’ sending off would convince many players to drop their heads, but the Whitecaps seemed to actually improve after going down a man – perhaps feeling aggrieved at the decision.

“It puts the onus on every single person on the field to make up the difference of that extra guy,” Thorrington said. “You can’t look to somebody else to do it. I think everybody that’s still on the field knows they have to do that bit more. Guys move a bit more – you can’t hide out there to get anything out of the game. You have to do the defensive work, then when we have the ball you have to move that much more to get open and make those extra runs.

“It’s about sacrificing for your team and making up for that extra guy, and I think we did that.”

Rennie was unwilling to criticize referee Jasen Anno, only saying that he was heavily involved in many incidents in the match, instead focusing on the performance of his players, but did acknowledge the red card affected the game.

“It was a big turning point when Darren went down in the box, and we had a chance to score – but the referee pulled the play back and gave a yellow card,” Rennie said. “A little bit harsh, and then almost immediately right after it he gets a second yellow. It put us in a position where we had any excuse we wanted to lose the game, and I think a lot of teams will take that excuse all day and accept a hard-fought, blame the referee, 1-0 defeat.

“But the players on our team showed a lot of character, incredible work rate and a desire to come out with something better than that.”

The Whitecaps are next in action on Wednesday as they host the New York Red Bulls at BC Place, although they won’t be facing Thierry Henry.

Martin MacMahon is a Vancouver-based soccer writer. Follow him on Twitter: @martinmacmahon

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