Thompson lifts Rapids to 2-1 win over Whitecaps
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) Wells Thompson scored in the 84th minute and the Colorado Rapids rallied for a 2-1 victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps in the teams' regular-season finale Saturday night.
Defending-champion Colorado (12-9-13) improved its chances of hosting a playoff game, pending other results this weekend.
Thompson got the ball after a scramble near the top of Vancouver's 18-yard box and sent a shot off a Whitecaps defender's head and over goalkeeper Joe Cannon.
``We created the first goal, we had our chances, but we kind of let things get away from us,'' Cannon said. ``Being a little sloppy was the theme of our year, and it came back to haunt us tonight.''
Vancouver (6-18-10) closed its inaugural MLS season and was playing under coach Tommy Soehn for the last time. Martin Rennie will take over next season.
``Right now, I'm mostly disappointed we lost the game, especially in front of our fans,'' said Soehn, who is slated to return to his duties as the team's director of soccer operations. ``We'll work together (among management) to make sure what we have is more consistent.''
Alain Rochat gave the Whitecaps a 1-0 lead in the 49th minute, and Jeff Larentowicz tied the score for Colorado in the 59th minute.
``To come here and play in a new stadium in front of a crowd like that, it was always going to be tough,'' Larentowicz said. ``We had something on the line and we wanted to achieve that.''
After the game ended, a number of Vancouver players sat on the pitch in frustration after a season that began with a promising 4-2 victory over Toronto FC turned into a disaster that included the firing of former coach Teitur Thordarson.
The club had been playing well lately as Soehn shuffled his lineup. But Thompson, who subbed in near the 70-minute mark, denied the Whitecaps a third-straight home victory before a sellout crowd of 21,000 at newly renovated BC Place.
The Whitecaps had some excellent chances early, but could not score. Long Tan fired a hard shot from the corner of the 18-yard box in the third minute, but Colorado goalkeeper Matt Pickens punched the ball away as it came straight at him.
Four minutes later, midfielder Nizar Khalfan had a breakaway and had an out-of-position Pickens at his mercy, but fired wide.
In the 10th minute, Larentowicz received a yellow card for a reckless foul on midfielder John Thorrington.
Rochat's goal came on a curling free kick from about 30 yards out thanks to an error by Pickens. With Whitecaps captain Jay DeMerit faking a header and running hard at the net, Pickens put up his hand in surrender and let the ball go, thinking it was going out of bounds. However, it snuck into the corner of the net with Pickens watching when he could have easily stopped it.
Just 10 minutes later, Larentowicz fired a straight-on free kick from the top of the Vancouver box right through a Whitecaps defensive wall - and Cannon's legs - as he failed to get his hands down on the ball in time.
Camilo had a chance to put the Whitecaps ahead in the 67th minute, but he fired wide from the middle of the Colorado box. Rochat had a chance to score on another free kick in the 71st minute, but he shot the ball over the net.