Kekuta Manneh and Pedro Morales ensured a happy 40th anniversary celebration for the Vancouver Whitecaps at BC Place on Saturday.
VANCOUVER – Amongst great festivities to celebrate the 40th anniversary of their first-ever match in professional soccer, the Vancouver Whitecaps lived up to the occasion with a superb display in defeating the San Jose Earthquakes.
Kekuta Manneh's third goal of the season set the stage for a quick-fire brace from Pedro Morales, as the Chilean star struck from the penalty spot before securing the match winner a minute later.
But for two strikes from MLS goal machine Chris Wondolowski, the 'Caps proved full value for an important 3-2 home win.
'Caps head coach Carl Robinson was at a "loss for words" by how well his side started on Saturday, with the opening 20 minutes proving decisive to the result at BC Place.
"I challenged them at the start of the game because it was a fantastic occasion today for the tradition of the club, and I didn't want us to start slow when we have done in a few recent games," said the former Wales international. "For the first 30 minutes, we were absolutely sensational. We scored three goals, but we also had a number of other good chances as well."
Using pace, slick passing, and quick movement, the Whitecaps tormented San Jose in the first half and looked a side that could have easily scored more than the three goals they registered on the scoresheet.
"We started a little slow in our previous games, so we learned from that and went out for it today and got the result," Manneh said to reporters. "We've got a lot of great talent on this team, so if we use it, we're going to hurt teams."
Getting back to winning ways was not the only important aim of Saturday's match, as the Blue & White were keen not to spoil their 40th anniversary day with a disappointing result. It was on May 3, 1974, that Vancouver began life in the old North American Soccer League by playing San Jose.
"I wanted the guys to put on a performance for the fans today," Robinson said. "They've been there through thick and thin, through good times and tough times. In the first 30 to 45 minutes, we were fantastic."
Victory was tempered by striker Darren Mattocks' early exit from the game. The Jamaican international lasted only half-an-hour and was replaced by Erik Hurtado after suffering a suspected hamstring injury.
"I'm not sure how bad it is, but he did feel it, so that is a concern for us," Robinson said. "Obviously, we will reassess it [on Sunday]."
With the win, the Whitecaps improves to 3W-2L-4D in MLS this season. Next up for Vancouver is a trip to Robinson's former club, Toronto FC, and the first leg of their Amway Canadian Championship semifinal series at BMO Field on Wednesday night.