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Whitecaps end 14-game winless run vs. Union

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Alain Rochat
It took 14 games to do it, but the Vancouver Whitecaps got their second win of the season.

A stunning left-footed strike from defender Alain Rochat gave the Whitecaps a 1-0 lead over the Philadelphia Union just 11 minutes in, and it was good enough. The Whitecaps, owners of the third-worst defensive record in MLS, shut out a Philadelphia team Saturday that scored six times when it last crossed the border — a rout of Toronto FC at BMO Field.

And, even though the Whitecaps went winless through 14 games after their opening-day win over TFC, the win over Philadelphia at Empitre Field,allowed it to vault out of the MLS basement. The Caps now have one more point than Sporting Kansas City, and are just one point back of TFC, with a game in hand.

The goal came after midfielder Davide Chiumiento made a brilliant run up the left side, beat and was able to cut inside towards the middle of the park. After a little give and go with Camilo, Chiumiento then slid the ball to the left side, where Rochat came up from the back to join the attack. His stunning shot, which slammed into the net just inside the right post, offered Union keeper Faryd Mondragon no chance.

Win or lose or draw, the Whitecaps almost always finish second when it comes to time of possession. The stat sheet in this one stated that Philadelphia had 54 per cent of the ball but, to be fair, no one watching this game would have noticed. The Union created really only one scoring chance of note; after a giveaway by Terry Dunfield late in the second half, and a great pass from Union midfielder Brian Carroll that sprung forward Danny Mwanga, the ball came into the box where Sebastien Le Toux had a chance to get a shot on goal from a few feet out.

But Whitecaps midfielder Jeb Brovsky, who had tracked back, harried Le Toux enough to forced the Union striker to send his effort wide.

It was a scary moment for Whitecaps fans. But after weeks of seeing goals scored in bunches against this team, they’ll gladly take just one scare every 90 minutes.

Because of injuries, the hectic schedule and the regular conflicts with internationals, it’s hard for any MLS coach to start his best XI for a regular run of matches. But, on Saturday, Whitecaps coach Tom Soehn used a starting XI which you’d have to think would be his ideal lineup. Dunfield, back from a disappointing Gold Cup with Canada, anchored the midfield with Brovsky. Chiumiento was seen on the outside, where he is most effective. New Zealand international Michael Boxall started and looks to be the best candidate to pair the veteran Jay DeMerit in the centre of the backline.

The Caps did have two great chances early in the second half to pad the lead; Camilo was sprung loose by a great pass from Shea Salinas, but Mondragon was well positioned to make the save.

And, Eric Hassli got the ball at the top of the box, with his back to goal. He was able to turn and got a left footed shot that just cleared the bar.

Soehn had urged his Whitecaps to try and jump on the defensively stingy Union in the first 15 minutes. Check. And he wanted to see more composure from his club. Check.

Yes, it’s only the club’s second win in its MLS history. But, with more orderly displays like this one, fans won’t have to wait 14 more games for win No. 3.

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