It has been almost 48 hours since the Vancouver Whitecaps were unsuccessful in clinching their berth to the final of the Voyageurs Cup after losing in dramatic fashion against Toronto FC. Yes, the Whitecaps fought hard and they came ever so close; however, they will go another year without winning this trophy and without qualifying to the CONCACAF Champions league to battle it out against other teams in the region.
I needed a couple of days before writing this article because I found that I have gone back and forth in a wave of mixed feelings. Immediately after the now Montreal Impact player, Issey Nakajima-Farran, scored the last penalty kicked to seal the Whitecaps' fate I was truly disappointed, then I cheered when I bought into the whole "the future is bright" argument. Then I saw the game again and found myself upset and concerned again. So a couple of days have (hopefully) given me time to level out those emotions so that I can try to be as fair as possible in the assessments I needed to make in order to write this article.
One of the biggest challenges I faced is that it is easy to be positive after a win and a little stricter after a loss but in this case the Caps technically won the game. That being said, they still got eliminated so that sours the whole thing. Anyway, without further ado, here are some grades:
Russell Teibert - A: The 21-year old "veteran" captained the team once more and he produced one of his best performances that I can remember. He solidly commanded the midfield and stood up against Michael "The Walking Maraca" Bradley. His versatility allows Robbo to make tactical changes on the fly and the young Canadian played as a defensive midfielder and as a left back. His work rate was impeccable, he was comfortable on the ball and his distribution was pinpoint accurate.
Pedro Morales - B+: The Chilean DP didn't have a brilliant game but he was able to create many chances, especially early in the game by settling the ball and distributing it accurately to his teammates. He masterfully assisted in Hurtado's goal and didn't flinch under pressure when he scored the penalty that tied the aggregate score with only 5 minutes on the clock.
Erik Hurtado - B: Hurtado started his third game in 7 days and has seen a lot of minutes since Darren Mattocks went down early in the game versus San Jose. It seems that the accumulation of time on the pitch has done the sophomore speedster good as he scored his second goal in as many games and he finally looks like he is settling down and making smart choices.
Marco Carducci - B: The young teenager had another strong outing with at least three terrific saves (one in overtime) that kept the Whitecaps alive in the game. Having said that, although it was not the reason that the ‘Caps lost the semi-final, he did make a mistake on Toronto's goal in the first three minutes of the game (and yes, I am aware that it was offside and it could have been called a foul, etc., etc. Still he shouldn't have been out there in the first place. You can crucify me in the comments).
Nigel Reo-Coker - C+: The Englishman was the worst Whitecap in the first leg. Reo-Coker was not the worst Whitecap of the night but he still wasn't very good. His distribution was poor, the two or three crosses he actually made were awful and, is it just me or does he look slow on the pitch? Either way, "better than awful" is still not very good.
Kekuta Manneh - C: The consistent thing about Kekuta Manneh is his inconsistency. On any given day he can be sublime or head-shaking. Unfortunately for the Whitecaps it was the latter version of the youngster that showed up on Wednesday night. At times he seems to trip over his own feet, he has a heavy touch that even he, with his lighting speed, can chase and, let's not forget, that awfully taken penalty kick. Perhaps the amount of minutes he has played lately took a toll on him.
So there you have it. I know there will be strong opinions about this so let them rip.