Hmmm... where to start on this one? I mean there were more than enough reasons to tune in to TSN last night - the Caps still needing to pick up points in a bad way, and hopefully still riding the wave of confidence after dispatching SKC with ease. Their hosts the worst team in Major League Soccer - and trending downward - having lost their previous four, and being blanked in their last three straight. What could possibly be more exciting?
Unfortunately, the answer to that question turned out to be a three-way tie between: mowing the lawn, cleaning the crud out from under my fingernails, and sitting on hold for 10 minutes while trying to report that our garbage hadn't been picked up.
So, without much more ado, it's time to consider the qualifying letters for this week's themed report card. Will it be "W" for WTF? And wasteful? Or perhaps "E" for enigmatic, or "I" for "inconsistent"?
I'll take "Begins with S" for $200 please, Alex...
S for Solid. Solid positioning, solid handling, solid distribution from David Ousted. Four shots, four saves - none of them truly difficult, but always in the right place at the right time. (classic mode mark: B)
S for Stingy, Slick, and Superb. The stingy rating goes to the entire back line (Jordan Harvey, Johnny Leveron, Andy O'Brien, Steven Beitashour) plus Ousted - and with acknowledgement to the two holding mids as well. What else can you say after three clean sheets in a row, and only four goals allowed in the past six matches? Slick goes to Steven Beitashour, who just keeps showing better and better at RB. We'd heard tale of his much-vaunted offensive skills, and we saw him absolutely undress LB Donny Toia with a nifty little juggle before whipping a cross into the Chivas penalty area. It was probably the best individual skill move of the match. Beitashour turned in a quality performance both offensively and defensively Saturday night. Superb goes to Leveron, who turned in the club's second-best performance of the night: a 7.5 rating from whoscored.com, 97% passing, four interceptions, and seven clearances. (classic mode marks: Beitashour: B; Leveron: B+)
S for Standouts. Yet again this season, the strength of the Whitecaps has come from the DM tandem. Saturday it was Mathias Laba and Russell Teibert teaming up, as Gershon Koffie was out due to a knock picked up versus SKC. Laba's performance was his usual high standard, but it was Teibert who put in the best performance of anyone on the pitch. I've never questioned Teibert's effort, but at times his effectiveness. Both were gold-star worthy on Saturday, as he displayed more spark and energy than any other Cap. His contribution, both defensively, and in the transitioning to attack was indeed stellar. His numbers? 86% passing, and 79 touches, including a team-leading four tackles, three interceptions, three clearances, and eight recoveries. (Classic mode mark: A)
(Fernandez, Mezquida, Salgado): S for "Sub please!" Sebastian Fernandez had a decent outing, but neither Nicolas Mezquida nor Omar Salgado will be pasting video to their highlight reels from this one. Mezquida, in for a resting Pedro Morales for the better part of the night, tried to fill Pedro's shoes - but they're so damned big that even an acceptable performance from Mezquida looked bad by comparison to Morales' standard. Making just his fourth start of the year, and playing alongside another infrequent flyer in the Caps' midfield, Mezquida couldn't put his stamp on the match, and struggled with his passing - at only 77%, the poorest on the Whitecaps side. When your CAM is having trouble finding his game, you're likely going to have trouble scoring. But the biggest disappointment Saturday evening was Salgado. The opening minutes in particular for the young man were nothing short of dismal, as he couldn't bring anything under control, and on another early occasion either failed to see Mezquida making himself available with a run into a decent channel, or simply refused to play him in. Salgado's passing percentage was second-worst on the team, and his 20% success rate on aerial duels was less than impressive. In his 61 minutes on-pitch, he managed only 31 touches. To his credit, though, he did direct one ball on goal for the Caps. Still, Salgado had ample reason to be fired up, playing Chivas, only to lay pretty much an egg. There are those who would like to see him get more time than he does, and his game might be that much better with the added minutes. But Salgado's in a true Catch-22. He's failed to make the most of the limited time he's been given by coach Carl Robinson, and there's honestly no compelling reason for Robinson to change goalposts for Salgado at present.
(Classic mode marks: Fernandez B-, Mezquida C, Salgado D)
(Mattocks / Hurtado): S for Snooze... 0 shots on goal. 0 shots at goal. Granted, Chivas parked a rather large bus, and was just waiting for the final whistle, but somehow this team has got to learn how to break down teams playing for a standoff. (Mattocks: C, Hurtado D)