VANCOUVER, CANADA - JULY 18: Jonathan Leathers #25 of the Vancouver Whitecaps FC and Vladimir Weiss #40 of Manchester City fight for position during their World Football Challenge friendly match July 18, 2011 at Empire Field in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)
City defeated MLS side Vancouver Whitecaps 2-1 tonight at a very soggy and messy Empire Field. The pitch had experienced some heavy rain in the past few days and it had even forced a regular MLS match to be postponed this past Saturday, making the pitch difficult to navigate, but it was nothing that City hasn't experienced back in England.
It was City's second match in the past 3 days and with the EPL-style atmosphere in Vancouver, it always had the chance to be a tricky affair, even with the Whitecaps winning just 2 of 20 matches so far in their first year in the MLS.
The first half squad consisted of Hart, Kompany, Savic, Boyata, Kolarov, McGivern, de Jong, Toure, Weiss, Johnson, and Dzeko. City came out sharp and possessive, looking organized overall but lacking some cohesion in the final third, something David Silva usually helps to solidify. Savic looked good in the back for his second match with the club, while Kolarov was below par, and his poor tracking contributed to the Whitecaps' lone goal (a 20 yard shot that took a massive deflection and left Hart flat footed, nothing to really worry about). Boyata, however, really stood out. His combination of pace, strength, and quick feet were a highlight on the right side of the pitch. He looked quite like Micah Richards, only without the constant up-and-down energy.
In attack, Johnson was his usual self, cutting inside often and attempting to set up his teammates. Dzeko got into good positions, but lacked the killer instinct, reflecting much of his time so far in a City shirt. He should have buried a sitter as well. Vladimir Weiss was another bright spot for the Blues, his energy and creativity made him the best player on the pitch while he was in the game. I really believe that he could be the attacking spark City seemed to lack this season, and no transfers are necessary in this department.
The second half saw many substitutes and City played a few more lesser known faces later on, such as Frederic Veseli, John Guidetti, and Andrea Mancini (the boss's son). Stuart Taylor took over in goal, Lescott and Clichy moved into the back, Barry and Milner took over in the middle. SWP also came on with Weiss and Savic remaining from the first half. City attacked for most of the half with Balotelli and Guidetti leading the front line. They eventually found the equalizer on a corner that Guidetti smartly headed home, and pressed on for the winner, eventually coming on an SWP screamer from 25 yards out. It was a bullet that flew right into the top corner, a shot we have seen from the winger a few times over the last few years. City hung on to win 2-1, and were most definitely the dominant team, but credit to Vancouver for putting up a nice effort.
Shaun Wright-Phillip's winning goal:
The one negative from the game was a rather large negative, an ankle injury to Yaya. He jumped to win a contested header and landed awkwardly, resulting in immediate pain. After a few minutes he was helped off the field by the medical staff and was substituted for Milner. It was not a pleasant moment and hopefully it is nothing too serious.
Side note: the commentary was quite awful throughout the match. Just 3 minutes in, the commentators had confused Weiss for Dzeko (not sure how that is possible), kept calling Kolarov something that sounded like Kalarov, and later on failed to recognize that Guidetti's last name indeed ends with an 'i'. It was not a good display for American commentary.
City's next match will be Sunday at the LA Galaxy, a match which should feature David Beckham and Landon Donovan.