BRITISH COLUMBIA

Techera scores first goal for Vancouver as Whitecaps down Real Salt Lake 2-1

05/30/2015 08:07 EDT | Updated 05/30/2016 05:59 EDT
VANCOUVER - Carl Robinson might be adding another line to his job title.

With just 14 goals through 12 games heading into Saturday, the head coach of the Vancouver Whitecaps spent extra time with his attacking players working on their finishing at training this week.

Whatever he told them seemed to stick.

Cristian Techera scored his first for Vancouver after Gershon Koffie's jaw-dropping opener as the Whitecaps downed the Real Salt Lake 2-1.

Having won just two of eight heading into the match, Robinson's men had a number of golden opportunities to break the game open in the first half, but instead found themselves tied 1-1.

"I was dreading coming in here and telling you (media) 'We played really well, but we didn't win,'" said Robinson, who himself wasn't known for his goal scoring during his days as a no-nonsense midfielder. "Whether we can score enough goals to win games is the big question. I said to the guys in there openly at halftime, 'Well played, but I'm sick of saying well played. We're not winning. Let's go out and challenge.'"

And after Real had a push in the opening moments of the second half, challenge they did until Techera struck in the 79th minute off a mix up between Salt Lake defender Elias Vasquez and goalkeeper Nick Rimando. Vasquez tried to chest a looping ball to Rimando in the penalty area, but the pint-sized Techera was quicker off the mark and intercepted the pass before slotting home the winner.

"It was a game that we complicated a bit for ourselves in the first half," Techera said through a Spanish interpreter. "But after that we came out in the second half and made it happen."

Generously listed at five foot two, the winger is on a season-long loan from his Uruguayan club and appears to have found his footing in Major League Soccer since arriving in April.

"He brings an energy about him. He's small, he's dynamic and he scores goals," said Robinson. "It wasn't the prettiest of goals. He's scored many more better goals than that, but we'll take it."

Saturday marked the first match on the new artificial turf installed at B.C. Place Stadium ahead of the FIFA Women's World Cup, which starts next week. The Whitecaps won't be at home again until July 12, with their first of five straight on the road going Wednesday in Montreal against the Impact.

Making his 100th start in MLS for Vancouver (7-5-2), Koffie gave his team the lead in the 36th minute with his first of the season, a rocket into the top corner after he smashed a much easier chance off the crossbar from six yards out midway through the half.

"Gershon has shown on his day he can arguably be one of the best midfield players in the league," said Robinson. "What I don't want is him to play well one game and not so well two or three games."

It looked like the Whitecaps would take that lead into the half, but Javier Morales equalized for Real (4-5-5) on a free kick from 25 yards in the 45th minute, blasting a shot past 'keeper David Ousted for his third goal of 2015.

"They're dangerous off set plays and set pieces," said Robinson. "We were giving up one or two silly free kicks, and if you give Morales an opportunity he scores."

Real sat back for most of the first half when the score was tied 0-0, but came out more aggressive after the break and had a great chance in the 64th minute when Ousted stretched to stop Vasquez's header off a corner.

The Whitecaps then amped up the pressure on Real's defence as the half wore on before Techera finally grabbed the decider.

"The group can go to a very special place if they really believe," said Robinson. "Today I found out a lot about them. It was pleasing for them because it was an important win."

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