Report Card: Philadelphia Union vs. Whitecaps FC

Whitecaps striker Erik Hurtado (L) scored his fifth goal in five matches against the Union - John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports

It was another heart-stopping finish to a game involving the Vancouver Whitecaps, so here at Eighty Six Forever we take a closer look at a selection of the Caps' lineup from Saturday's match.

One could describe the Vancouver Whitecaps' draw with the Philadelphia Union as the best of times and the worst of times, or better yet a tale of two halves. Ok, well maybe the former description is a little on the harsh side, but Whitecaps showed for all their improvements this season they are still a work in progress.

Much like they did the previous weekend in Portland, the Caps built up a lead, but let their opponents back into the match in the later stages of the game. That’s the bad news. The good news is that the World Cup break couldn’t come at a better time for Carl Robinson and his coaching staff, who now have a two-week window to address and fix these problems.

So with all of this in mind, let’s take a look at the grades for a selection of players that donned the Blue and White at PPL Park on Saturday night:

Erik Hurtado (A-): Hurtado extended his goal-scoring streak to five goals in five matches and also had several quality scoring chances in the first half. Erik played a nice ball over to Nicolás Mezquida to set up the Uruguayan for his second goal off the season just before half time.

Matías Laba (C): In his short time with the Whitecaps we’ve seen Laba establish himself as a stalwart in the Whitecaps midfield. Matías at times was out of position and looked like a player running on fumes and  was well out of position on Philly's third goal. Ironically, this goal was scored from an area of the pitch that is usually locked down tight by the Argentinian.

Nigel Reo-Coker (B): In the continued absence of the Brazil-bound Steven Beitashour, Reo-Coker started yet another match at right fullback. We saw Nigel make more of his surging runs down the wing and his one-touch cross to set up the opening goal was a thing of beauty. Hopefully we will see more performances like this from the Englishman when the season resumes.

Andy O’Brien (C): Since O’Brien did not start the match we must assume that Robbo intended to give the Irishman a rest and play him only if he really, really needed to. Unfortunately, with the early injury to Jay DeMerit, Robbo was forced to play O’Brien and the normally reliable defender looked a little out of sync all evening. O’Brien was caught completely unaware by Conor Casey when the Union forward scored just after the hour mark.

Nicolás Mezquida (B-): A rare start for the Uruguayan, but Mezquida started and finished the counter attack that led to his goal and Vancouver’s second of the night. Robinson has tended to start Sebastián Fernández over Mezquida, but has Nico made a strong enough case for a regular place in the starting XI?

David Ousted (C+): Ousted made some nice saves to keep Vancouver in the game, but six goals (not all entirely his fault) in just two matches doesn’t look very good on paper. Looked to hesitate on an early Philadelphia free-kick, but he still managed to keep the ball out of the net. If the Caps can improve the defensive struggles we have seen in recent matches then this will be a big help to Ousted.

Pedro Morales (B): Pedro is the heart of the attacking flair and creativity of the Vancouver Whitecaps. He was perhaps a little fortunate that the Union goalkeeper, Zac MacMath, did not save his penalty, but hey, he struck it well enough and it did end up in the back of the net.  Morales makes all those around him better, but if only he could help with those problems at the back…

The Tweet of the weekend goes to Marc Weber of the Vancouver Province:

Do you agree or disagree with our assessment?  If you have something to say then join in the conversation by leaving a comment in the section below.

~

@86forever – for the latest Whitecaps FC news and updates brought to you from the Heart of Cascadia!


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