Hot, still temperatures and a high altitude had left them fatigued after a 1-0 victory over the Colorado Rapids on Wednesday night.
Darren Mattocks scored in the 43rd minute as Vancouver (8-4-5) improved to 3-1-3 over its last seven games.
“That’s the way we wanted to play,” Vancouver coach Martin Rennie said. “We didn’t want to go chasing too hard. It was too hot and the altitude affected the team.”
The Whitecaps have been successful in their road formula – keep it simple and pounce on their chances. It worked to perfection against the Rapids, who attacked throughout the game but couldn’t beat Vancouver 'keeper Joe Cannon.
“Luckily for me the defence played great tonight and made my job easy,” Cannon said.
The only goal he needed came with a little luck as Jordan Harvey sent a ball to the top of the penalty box that defenceman Drew Moor tried to clear. Instead the ball went right to Mattocks who got behind the defence, made one move and beat Matt Pickens with a low shot into the far corner.
“As soon as I saw the ball sent to me I just took it for a corner,” Mattocks said.
It was the only shot on goal for the Whitecaps, but it was the difference.
“He had only that chance and he took it really well,” Rennie said.
Rennie says he wanted his team to limit chances and counterattack when the opportunity was there. Playing on the road, in hot weather and a mile high, it was survival as much as it was a game plan.
“Coming from Vancouver to this, on a night when it’s Fourth of July and everyone’s here for a party, we’ve done well to come into their stadium and get a win,” Rennie said.
Cannon, who played for the Rapids for four seasons and was the MLS Goalkeeper with them in 2004, did a good job of foiling his old team, especially Conor Casey, who had a few chances stopped by the 'keeper.
His last chance, in the 89th minute, came when Brian Mullan sent a crossing pass to the net. Cannon deflected it right to Casey, who headed it wide of the net.
“I got a finger on it,” Cannon said. “He normally doesn’t miss those.”
The Whitecaps also got a look at their new midfielder, Barry Robson, who played his first game since joining the team two weeks ago. The former member of EPL's Middlesbrough started but was subbed out early in the second half.
He got to watch his new team take care of business on the road and survive the heat.
“It was pretty tough,” Mattocks said. “It was 89 degrees (32 C) out there; we’re not used to that.”