It wasn’t overly pretty and there were times when the Whitecaps were bunkered in their own penalty area for minutes at a time but in the end goals from Alphonso Davies and Fredy Montero were enough to see Vancouver through to the semi-final of the CONCACAF Champions League.
In an ideal world they would have built on the early goal from Davies but instead the Whitecaps reverted to type and allowed the Red Bulls to find a foothold in the game without really putting together a decent spell of football.
For Vancouver the forwards were a little less mobile than they were in the previous game with Brek Shea mostly taking a central role that he failed to excel in.
Kekuta Manneh filled in there too and he and Davies gradually became the home team’s best hope of adding a second through their pace on the break.
That second goal didn’t transpire until the introduction of Montero who (after spending fruitless minutes scampering after the ball or watching it be hit high and wide away from him) decided to introduce himself to the home fans by hammering a crisply hit shot into the back of the net.
There was a certain amount of cognitive dissonance in seeing a Whitecaps forward strike the ball so cleanly and so accurately but hopefully there’s more of that to come from the new addition to the squad.
The team is still developing though with Shea understandably struggling to find a rhythm and Montero will need to be serviced with more than chances from scrappy set-pieces if he’s to really make his mark but a win is a win is a win and to achieve it with goals from the both the new star striker and the young prodigy is about as good as it could get for the club.
Next stop is at home to Philadelphia on Sunday in the MLS opener and a win there would make the start to the season pleasingly reassuring but, for now, the Whitecaps are just two games away from the Champions League Final.
Last year suddenly feels a lot more distant.
Time for the Soccer Shorts player ratings!
Ousted-6.5, Nerwisnki-6, Waston-6.5, Parker-6, Harvey-6, Laba-6.5, Tiebert-6, de Jong-6, Davies-7*, Manneh-6, Shea-5.5