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Matchday 33 Report Card: Quakes vs Caps

The end of the regular season is nigh and the Whitecaps hold full control of their playoff destiny, there is a lot to be pleased with and now it's time for reflection. Let's mark the papers and hand out some grades.

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Vancouver headed to San Jose for their penultimate fixture of the regular season and while their performance lacked anything to write home about, the Kings of Cascadia and indeed Canada returned home with full control of their playoff destiny. Buck Shaw Stadium played host to its final home game, with the Earthquakes moving into their new 18,000-capacity arena for 2015 onwards, and the emotion in the building certainly influenced proceedings, yet proved insufficient to deny the visitors a well earned point. It wasn’t pretty, however the ends justified the means, and no supporter can have any qualms with that outcome. I have made an assessment and have identified the individuals worth particular attention, so without further ado here is my report card, please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Steven Beitashour: B

Beitashour’s first year as a Whitecap has gone rather understated among the impressive displays from Pedro Morales, Matías Laba and Kendall Waston, however his return to his hometown and former side proved his worth for all to see. From the moment he led the team’s prematch huddle, the 27-year-old remained committed to the task ahead, alleviating pressure from the left wing throughout the ninety minutes. He guided his colleagues through rough periods of defensive transition with aplomb and made his mark from the first whistle, challenges packing a punch. This served as ample justification for his Budweiser Man of the Match award, but the most impressive element to his display for me was how he handled his responsibilities, adjusting his own game to increase the chances of securing the result. Carl Robinson will hope for more of the same in that regard and the Iranian international could be afforded a role with added emphasis on leadership if he continues to step up in this vein.

David Ousted: B

Ousted’s reliability has become the backbone to the playoff push, regularly making the difference between the sticks down the stretch, and his efforts this weekend provided him with the honour for most clean sheets for 2014, two shutouts ahead of Bill Hamid with one game remaining. It was clear from the off that if the hosts were to enjoy any success it would come as a result of how Chris Wondolowski performed, the 31-year-old target man scoring nine in ten appearances against Vancouver, but nothing of the kind eventuated, in large part thanks to the Great Dane. In fact, if you’re looking for a single match-defining moment, Ousted’s point blank stop to deny Wondolowski on the brink of the intermission was almost certainly it, an exceptional example of improvised goalkeeping that had it not been so impeccably executed would have had a drastic effect on the following events. His organisation was fashionably superb, the back-line in front of him responding to his every order, and he did well to pull through for his side overcoming injury concerns at various intervals.

Jordan Harvey: B-

There’s something of a trend relating those awarded the highest grades to the area occupied on the pitch, but what did you honestly expect from a stalemate? Harvey performed amicably, consistent in his tackles, attacking work-rate and overall effort to nullify the San Jose threat on the right flank. Kekuta Manneh was given greater license to exploit Pablo Pintos on the left because of the assurances Harvey guaranteed behind him, the omnipresent threat caused problems for the Earthquakes all night long and, on a another day, probably would have been rewarded with a goal-scoring contribution. Harvey himself impressed in the final third, pressing high up the pitch while providing a decent standard of delivery into the eighteen yard box. Statistically speaking, the California native made more key passes than any Cap with three and produced the best pass completion rate out of anyone in the back-line with 85%.

Erik Hurtado: C+

Few have been subjected to more scrutiny than Erik Hurtado this season, and for a player still developing this can sustain a long-term detrimental impact, however the 24-year-old has taken it on board and stepped up his game recently. It’s clear that Hurtado isn’t and won’t be the outstanding goalscorer the team have missed since Kenny Miller’s departure, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for him in the line-up and he proved that again until being replaced by Darren Mattocks in the second half. In a form of gentrification, coach Robinson has modified what he’s asked from Erik, placing less pressure on finishing and more on hold-up play, the benefits of which have become especially apparent on the counter. Going forward into next season and beyond there’s good reason to be encouraged about his future prospects, maybe an addition up top will get the best out of the new and improved #19 in what would no doubt be a reciprocally fruitful relationship.

Gershon Koffie: C

Koffie’s return after nine weeks out with ligament damage to his right foot, suffered in the 2-0 home win over Sporting Kansas City back at the start of August, represents another bright point to take into the remainder of the campaign. Entering the game in the 61st minute, the effervescent 22-year-old added an extra dimension to Vancouver’s play in the middle of the park, without any evident deficiencies after such a prolonged spell on the sidelines. It comes as a relief that the coaching staff have remained patient as the Ghanian seemed rejuvenated in his cameo, very promising for future incidents of this ilk. Russell Teibert has done a fantastic job filling the void and deserves to keep his place in the line-up, however having Koffie back helps a great deal in terms of depth and locker room morale, something that I believe will make a substantial difference heading into the regular season finale at BC Place next weekend.

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