If there ever was a match that had "trap" written all over it, then yesterday's match between the Vancouver Whitecaps and the Colorado Rapids would be a pretty good candidate.
Rapids coach Pablo Mastroeni, who was missing several starting players for various reasons, had to be quite inventive to field a decent XI to start this match, but give Colorado credit - they look determined all afternoon to try and take some points back to the Centennial State and they accomplished just that.
After Darren Mattocks finally found the back of the net, things were looking up for Vancouver to keep their unbeaten streak alive and send yet another opponent home without any points.
Then it all happened. In minute seventy-seven Matías Laba was sent off for a second yellow card, and in the space of only three minutes the Whitecaps' afternoon, if it didn't go full-blown Chernobyl at least did a pretty good Three Mile Island, and resulted with the opportunistic Rapids taking the win and three important points home to Colorado with them.
The Whitecaps will next play the LA Galaxy at the StubHub Center next weekend without the suspended Laba in midfield. The Whitecaps have never beaten the Galaxy away from BC Place, so an already difficult away match has just become that much harder.
Here are the grades for a selection of the Whitecaps who played in yesterday's match:
David Ousted (GK) - C+ - there were many questions surrounding Ousted at the end of 2013, and they persisted into the beginning of this season when the Danish 'keeper let in some soft goals early on. Since then Ousted has looked a little stronger each week, and despite conceding two goals to Colorado I don't think he can really blamed for getting beaten by either of José Mari's strikes. That being said, however, with the Whitecaps down to ten men at such a crucial time in the match someone needed to step up to save some points for the Caps. Sadly, this didn't happen and Vancouver could have used a save (or two) from a the Big Dane, who is supposed to have the ability to deliver game-changing saves.
Darren Mattocks - B - much has been said about Mattocks and his finishing, or lack thereof, in the opening weeks of the season. After having a first half goal disallowed and being stopped point-blank by Colorado goalkeeper Clint Irwin, the speedy Jamaican finally found the back of the net on a nifty one-two play with his partner, Kenny Miller.
Gershon Koffie - B- - Koffie, who many of us thought lost his way a little in 2013, is starting to show some of the form that made him a fan favourite in Vancouver. The Ghanian midfielder made some surging runs, drew a couple of fouls and had a couple of scoring opportunities, which may be an indication that Koffie's hard work in training is starting to pay dividends. With Laba suspended for the next match against the LA Galaxy and Nigel Reo-Coker coming off a concussion, manager Carl Robinson will be pleased that he has some options for his midfield.
Matías Laba - D - Laba was having his usual solid outing at the base of Robbo's 4-4-2 diamond until he had a lapse in judgement and intentionally handled the ball when he thought the play should have been stopped after he was fouled by Colorado's Nick LaBrocca. The problem was that the referee didn't think it was a foul and therefore awarded Laba a second yellow card for his sins. Mari's two goals came from a spot on the pitch which is Laba's territory, so unfortunately his sending off was ultimately the turning point in the match and a key to Vancouver's downfall on the afternoon. Laba will now be suspended for the match next weekend down in Los Angeles versus the Galaxy, which is a team the Whitecaps have only beaten once in their MLS existence. It's sad that a momentary lapse in judgement from a player that has been pretty reliable so far for Vancouver this year cost his new team so dearly. Hopefully Laba will learn from this episode and become a better player because of it.
Pedro Morales - B- - to be honest I was going to be a little harder on our new DP, but for a player that is still new to the Whitecaps and MLS a sub-par outing for Morales is still a helluva lot better than a lot of other players in this league. The sublime passing and touch that we saw against the New York Red Bulls and Houston Dynamo wasn't quite as crisp or as accurate as usual and also at times the weight on his passes was just a little too heavy. Certainly one has to believe that if Morales buried his chance just after the Mattocks goal, then this match probably would have ended much better for Vancouver. One thing that we can be sure of, however, is that we have yet to see the best from our Chilean maestro.
What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment? If you'd like to add your 2-cents then leave a comment below and join in the discussion
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