Vancouver Whitecaps coach Martin Rennie told reporters he'd do things differently following Saturday's 4-1 loss to the New England Revolution.
If Martin Rennie could do it again, he would.
The Vancouver Whitecaps’ head coach opted to leave Jay DeMerit in Vancouver and his captain’s centre back partner Martin Bonjour on the bench as his team threw away an early one-goal lead, falling 4-1 to the New England Revolution Saturday night at Gillette Stadium.
“Playing slightly different players who haven’t played as much together at the MLS level cost us tonight,” Rennie told reporters following the match. “For us, we’ve just come off winning five games in a row. The next few games are really big for us. We’ve got a cup final on Wednesday, which we’re really looking forward to.
“It’s all positive for us except for tonight which was a humbling experience and one that we have to take our medicine, learn from and improve from.”
Eric Hassli, scoring his first Major League Soccer goal outside of the Pacific Time zone, got things started with a fifth-minute strike which concluded a nifty passing play between the big Frenchman, Davide Chiumiento and Sebastien Le Toux.
“I think we started well with a beautiful goal from Eric (Hassli), a nice combination with me and Sebastian (Le Toux),” Chiumiento said. “After I think we made a lot of mistakes, and it wasn’t a good night for us. I’m just disappointed, but we have a really important game on Wednesday, so we have to forget about this game and focus on the next game.”
Those mistakes started with an immediate answer to Hassli’s goal through Lee Nguyen, who went through preseason with Vancouver before being placed on the waiver wire.
On the night, the twice-capped U.S. international did his best to show up Rennie’s decision of shunting him off, starting with a sixth-minute garbage goal in which he was the first to react to a loose ball in the penalty area.
Nguyen followed that up by setting up the Revolution’s second goal, scored by Saer Sene, and topped that off with a peach of a half-volley from outside of the box which goalkeeper Joe Cannon could only watch helplessly fly into the top right corner.
“I’ve never had a problem with Lee,” Rennie said. “We basically saw we had a lot of players similar to him and really we wanted to make sure he ended up somewhere where he would play. We could easily have kept him. He was on a salary that was very, very easy for us to keep him, but we felt he would not have played a lot in our lineup. And therefore, he would have been disappointed and unhappy about it. So we felt it was right to let him get a chance to play somewhere else, and he’s taken that chance and he’s done really well with it.
“If he plays like that every night he’ll be an All-Star and you know it just shows you soccer’s like that. I’ve never ever had a problem with a guy doing well and it has happened to me before where I’ve made a decision on a player and we’ve gone another way. But I’ve never wished them any ill. I’ve always wanted them to do well, not so much against my team of course. Obviously a sweet night for Lee and as disappointed as I am for us and our performance, I’m not disappointed about the fact that he did well and I’m happy for him.”
The Whitecaps now turn their attention to Wednesday’s first leg of the Canadian Championship at BC Place, hoping to become the top club in the country and advance to the group stages of the CONCACAF Champions League.
“People have asked if the Canadian cup is important to us,” Rennie said. “It is very important to us. We see it as a way to get into the CONCACAF Champions League and a chance to win a trophy, so tonight some of what we did was based on that, but ultimately we still thought we would have enough to put out a better performance than we did, and we let ourselves down tonight.”