Right off the bat: for those of you who saw my earlier tweet, I have calmed down somewhat. One very full stomach and some EVO 2014 matches later, the edge has been taken off the rage that followed watching the Vancouver Whitecaps succumb to
the heat stupidity in a 3-1 loss to Chivas USA. Don't get me wrong - I'm still very upset about what happened; as proof, I still have a sore throat as a memento for all the profane tirades I launched at Armando Villareal and Erick Torres from my seat just above the Curva Collective. It was a stupid match with stupid refereeing and stupid mistakes that ended up in a stupid result. Everything is stupid and I hate it.
See? Plenty calmed down! I've managed to tone down to the word "stupid". I'll see if I can keep that level of restraint throughout this write-up.
Here, let's watch some highlights and remind ourselves of all the stupid things that happened in this match:
That’s the view from the TV cameras. And now, my view from Section 204, Row T. Fair warning: even after a nice sleep and a move to a slightly more reliable WiFi area (I hope), I still feel pretty pissy about this stupid match.
Case in point: less than a minute into the match, Carlyle Mitchell earned himself an early yellow for a stupid foul on Eric Avila. Come on, Carlyle! I know you're excited to have this starting gig fall in your lap due to injuries and all but sheesh. At least you didn't pull a Jun Marques Davidson. That honour would fall to Jordan Harvey... but I'm getting ahead of myself. In this moment, Chivas took the early free kick as an invitation to put pressure on the 'Caps, which they did. Thankfully, nothing came of it.
Instead, it was the home team who, after weathering a mild storm, began to show signs of life. Pedro Morales was up to his usual tricks, playing the role of playmaker in earnest. The first waves of attack came from the Whitecaps' right (my left), with Sebastian Fernandez and Erik Hurtado doing their best to find the opening marker, to no avail. As I was watching these failed attacks, it was hard not to notice a wide-open Kekuta Manneh on the left (my right) side. Manneh was doing the right things with his positioning; the ball just wasn't coming to him. Thankfully, the youngster's efforts would be rewarded as the game wore on, with Manneh's side being the more active one. Hurtado even began drifting farther and farther left, overloading the flank guarded by Donny Toia. This tended to produce more positive results for the Whitecaps attackers and the right flank was pushed far less. Interestingly, while Manneh did his best to be noticed and invite attacks on his side when he didn't have the ball, Fernandez was invisible when he wasn't involved in the play. Not surprising that he was subbed out later in the second half.
The Whitecaps struck first off a corner kick, which is unquestionably the high point of the match for multiple reasons: one, a goal; two, a goal from a header; three, a goal from Carlyle Mitchell, the defender's first in Major League Soccer; and four, a goal from a corner kick. (Honourable mention: the gentleman behind me who loudly initiated every "Ohhh, Pe-dro Mor-aaaaaal-eeeeees!" chant when the Chilean came over for a corner kick.) As good as all those points were, the 'Caps did require a slight gaffe from Chivas goalkeeper Dan Kennedy, who let the ball squeak between his legs. Still, a goal is a goal and the 'Caps rode that positivity all the way to half-time, at which point the stupidity resumed.
While not as fast as Mitchell's yellow card to begin the first half, an Agustin Pelletieri goal from a Mauro Rosales corner kick was still a swift injection of stupid to start the second half. Poor marking from the defenders - though not quite as poor as Chivas' on the Mitchell goal - left Pelletieri with little difficulty in heading the ball between Ousted and Fernandez. Just like that, the game was knotted at 1. Stupid Chivas.
Hey, remember my mention of Jordan Harvey a few paragraphs ago? Yeah, it's stupid time. With both teams vying for the go-ahead goal, Harvey made two desperate attempts to regain possession of a lost ball. The first only forced the ball further back towards a solid group of Chivas players. The second was a reckless, stupid tackle on Osvaldo Minda that, from my vantage point, was undoubtedly a yellow. What I didn't see from my angle (and the MLS highlight package above conveniently cuts off) was just how reckless Harvey went into Minda. The 'Caps protested to Armando Villareal to no avail and Harvey was sent on the walk of shame past David Ousted and into the locker room. This had the unintended effect of getting Christian Dean into the match for Sebastian Fernandez, meaning more first team minutes for the first round draft pick.
Amazingly, the 'Caps didn't lay down and die despite being reduced to ten men. Before the red card, Darren Mattocks and Nigel Reo-Coker had come on for Kekuta Manneh and Gershon Koffie respectively and immediately set about trying to change the course of the match. First it was Reo-Coker, who stupidly sent a golden chance - the result of some hard work by Hurtado to receive a beautiful pass and get himself into a threatening position - the wrong side of the post. If that wasn't enough to make you pull your hair out, Darren Mattocks followed up by busting through the defense but not Dan Kennedy, who dove on the ball as the Jamaican tried to round the 'keeper.
The problem with attacking when you only have ten players is that repeated forays into the final third can and will be punished. Stupid Chivas made this point in the 81st minute when they victimized Christian Dean, playing at left back to fill the hole vacated by Harvey. Mauro Rosales started the break, sending a long ball to Marco Delgado who turned on the jets and left Dean unable to properly defend him. Now in scramble mode, the Vancouver defense stupidly did the one thing you do not do with Chivas: they left Erick Torres unmarked. Cubo latched onto Delgado's cross with his stupid head and stupidly scored the winning goal before stupidly gloating in front of the Southsiders with outstretched arms. Oh, and then he did his abominably stupid robot dance, which just makes me want to punch him even thinking about it. Senor Torres: YOUR DANCE IS STUPID AND NOBODY LIKES IT. AAAAAAAARRRGGH. Stupid Chivas.
The closest Vancouver came to equalizing was stupidly, tantalizingly close in the second minute of stoppage time. Throwing nearly everything they had forward, Vancouver managed to get the ball on target and over the goal line thanks to Pedro Morales' timely toe-poke. One problem: referee Armando Villareal whistled Morales for a foul, as Kennedy technically had possession of the ball from the original shot. Stupid Villareal. How dare you follow the laws of the game, you wanker! I'd also like to take this moment to shake my fist at the BC Place in-house video team, who chose the worst possible angle - the one I had from my vantage point at the opposite side of the field - for the replay of Morales' foul-goal. At that angle, of course the ball is going to look like it crossed the goal. Did you seriously not have anything from, say, a higher angle? A pitch-side perspective? Net cam? No? Stupid replay operator.
The final stupid ignominy was the 3-1 goal, a result of Vancouver throwing absolutely everything - David Ousted included - into Chivas' 18-yard box for the final corner kick of the game. The corner was decent enough but nobody in a blue kit could find their way to the ball and, one header later, Leandro Barrera calmly sprinted (since that's apparently a thing) over the halfway line, beat the last defender and a desperate Ousted before stupidly rolling the ball from distance into the back of the net. If that wasn't stupid enough, Barrera then had the stupid gall to celebrate in our corner like he'd just won the World Cup. Stupid Barrera. Stupid game.
In conclusion, everything is stupid and this team is a wreck. Fire Lenarduzzi, fire Robinson, sell off the first team, waive the prospects, call up the Richmond U-13 squad, quit MLS and go join the NASL.