VANCOUVER, B.C - It was billed as the biggest match in Vancouver Whitecaps FC history, the Caps travelled to Monterey, Mexico to take on Tigres UANL in the CONCACAF Champions League semifinals. Estadio Universitario was rocking as Tigres came away with a 2-0 first leg victory in front of 31,197 supporters.
"The game played out exactly the way I thought it would," said Manager Carl Robinson "Unfortunately we couldn't take the two chances we had. Tigres showed tonight they’re a top team... no one will give us a chance on April 5, but no one gave us a chance today. We must get the first goal in the next game, and then we’ll see where it goes."
Vancouver kept the match scoreless for over an hour until, a Kendall Waston own goal opened the scoring. Eduardo Vargas added an insurance goal to give Tigres a 2-0 first leg advantage. The return leg will take place on Wednesday, April 5, at B.C. Place. Vancouver will look to trip up Tigres and earn a spot at the CONCACAF Champions League Final.
The Opening 45
Carl Robinson got his first half tactics spot on. Vancouver was under siege throughout the half, but never lost defensive shape. Tigers lacked finish in the final third. Guido Pizzaro was central in the midfield creating opportunities, but whenever Tigres went forward, Vancouver was there. France striker, and Euro 2016 participant, Andre-Pierre Gignac was off the mark with his wild attempts to score.
Marcel de Jong, and Kendall Waston both picked up first half yellow cards. Vancouver was able to stay firm within the back-four. David Ousted was locked in and in the zone. Tigres were able to connect on a few crosses, but nothing to trouble Ousted. Waston sniffed out a pair of Tigres corners and made sure they didn't create anything dangerous.
The Whitecaps weren't able to get anything going on offence. It was in all in defensive minded half for Vancouver. They kept shape, and that meant not much in the Tigres half. De Jong had a pair of free kicks that did not materialize into a scoring threat.
The home side held a remarkable 81% - 19% possession advantage, but nothing to show for it.
The Second Half
Tigres was in search of a goal to break the deadlock and they mounted pressure after pressure as they again, dictated play. The Caps were structured and well prepared to deal the Tigres attack.
Tigres had a glorious opportunity to open the scoring in the 56' minute. Gignac headed a ball that was going out-of-bounds to the front of the Vancouver net. Luis Quiñones was unmarked. He sent a free header soaring over the bar, to the relief of the Whitecaps.
The relief did not last long, as a defensive mistake would result in a Tigres goal in the 65' minute. Gignac sent a ball across the Whitecaps box that went off Waston's foot and into the Vancouver net. The Caps skipper was attempting to block a pass, and he scored an own goal.
Tigres was not content with a one-goal advantage. They went in search for more goals. Ousted was forced to come up with a pair of brilliant saves. He denied Quiñones with a diving save, and moments later turned aside a header from Lucas Zelarayán. The Caps were starting to tire, and Ousted was making certain the deficit did not grow.
The Great Dane, could do nothing on the Tigres second goal, in the 87' minute. Chilean international, Eduardo Vargas sent a rocket from the top of the box, past the Caps keeper. Vancouver had collapsed in front of goal, and Varges smashed home a stray ball.
Man of the Match
Ousted looked like the Whitecaps keeper that had a standout 2015 season. He was sharp from start to finish and kept the scoreline respectable. Tigres could have run away with a massive first leg goal haul. Ousted had six big saves for Vancouver.
Vancouver Whitecaps Starting XI: David Ousted; Sheanon Williams, Kendall Waston, Tim Parker, Jordan Harvey; Matias Laba, Andrew Jacobson; Alphonso Davies, 78 (Cristian Techera), Fredy Montero, 64 (Nicolas Mezquida), Marcel de Jong, 56 (Christian Bolanos); Brek Shea. 4-2-3-1.
Tigres UNAL Starting XI: Nahuel Guzman; Luis Advingula, 64 (Ismael Sosa) Hugo Ayala, Francisco Meza, Jorge Torres Nilo, 46 (Lucas Zelarayán); Guido Pizarro, Jesus Duenas; Luis Quiñones, Jurgen Damm, Eduardo Vargas; Andre-Pierre Gignac. 4-2-3-1