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Report Card: Orlando City Game

The Vancouver Whitecaps were able to escape Orlando City with 3 points on a last minute headed goal by Rivero, however, how was each players individual effort? For reference, I am using a grade of C+ as ‘average’.

Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

David Ousted: A

After three games, some could easily argue that David Ousted has been the MVP of the team. He has been stellar in goal and without some high quality saves in Chicago and Orlando, the Whitecaps could be looking at being winless after three contests. Starting his 51st straight game, Ousted put in another wonderful performance preserving the opportunity for a win with a late, magical, save off of Canadian Cyle Larin, playing his first professional game (more on this later).

Diego Rodriguez: A

There were several players getting their first start of the season against Orlando, and in the case of Rodriguez, it was his first MLS game. Diego certainly impressed with his calm, relaxed, focused play. While Kah certainly has value and I expect him to start next week against his former team Portland Timbers, I believe that we will be seeing Rodriguez be penciled in as the starter next to Waston plenty going forward. Although Rodriguez may not be ‘better’ than Kah (I believe he is), Rodriguez offers what has been missing during the first two games: a center back who loves to defend and has that as his focal point. I believe that with Rodriguez, the Whitecaps get a better Waston as it allows him to charge in on players and disrupt the play while still having cover should he miss the tackle. That is, the similarities between Kah and Waston leaves the team exposed too often when paired together. Maybe a Kah/Parker (or Dean) partnership for some games might work or Kah for Waston when cards accumulate.

Sam Adekugbe: C+

Overall, Sam had a good second game in a row but his young age was evident on several occasions where he made some poor decisions. First, he made a rash challenge that led to his picking up a yellow card. Second, he dove in for the ball against Ricketts, when it probably was not a good idea, and it cost him. It is a fine line between being aggressive and risking injury. Sadly, Sam ended up on the injury side. Hopefully he is not out for long, however, it is good to have an equally adept play to take over in Jordan Harvey.

Steven Beitashour: C+

Beitashour did not have a bad game, in my opinion, however, it was really nothing to write home about. There has been some discussion of late surrounding Beitashour’s play. He was heralded as a great back who was a crossing/assist machine. Although he has not had negative games, per se, in a salary cap league you have to use your money wisely and it is currently unclear whether the additional cost of Beitashour is worth the extra he provides over an ‘average’ back (or Sampson).

Kendall Waston: B+

Alone Waston had a good game. I believe that he played a key role in the goal as his late arrival brought a few defenders with him, away from Rivero. He also had a good header on goal a little earlier. However, I believe that Waston’s positive play can be partly attributed to Rodriguez. As I noted above, this will be a partnership that I believe will be regularly seen going forward as it gives the Whitecaps the best balance of offense and defense from the backline.

Gershon Koffie: B+

In a bit of a surprise move, initially, Koffie was selected over Teibert. This was an important game for him as he will have a run of two games –due to international duty- to try and prove that he should be selected over Teibert. Will it work? I think that a lot of people are hoping that it does not as there is a Teibert has a strong fan base here. In my eyes though, the Whitecaps will play over 40 games this year and they WILL need three defensive midfielders so I would prefer that they all play well and can be rotated through.

Matias Laba: A+

What else is there to say about Laba but WOW! While Ousted and Rivero have been instrumental to the Whitecaps two wins this season, the contribution of Laba cannot be understated. Laba was a destructive force throughout the entire game. It is clear that he was excited to play against someone of the calibre of Kaka. Some may argue otherwise, but Laba was able to completely shutdown Kaka and forced Orlando City to change their game. Kaka likes to operate in the middle of the field, however, because of the play of Laba, Rodriguez, and Waston, Kaka was forced to drift wide and try to work his way into the middle with the ball. Although he may have not been voted MotM he was the best player, by a WIDE margin, yesterday.

Pedro Morales: B

I preface this with the acknowledgement that I may be overly critical. However, at the same time, when you are the captain, leader, and focal point of a team, you are going to be under a microscope more than any other player. With that out of the way, I believe that Morales played an okay game. It was certainly an improvement over his first two but it is still far from where it needs to be. Despite being a ‘wizard’ on the ball he also has some very, VERY bad plays. Morales was brought in as a ‘set-piece’ master but he has yet to show any of that ability. Last season, his poor corner kicks were initially attributed to his bad back. In the latter part of the season, it was attributed to his extended playing time. Those excuses are now gone and yet, his corner and free kicks are very inconsistent. Even the free kick that preceded the goal was poorly delivered. Maybe that was somewhat on purpose, as has been suggested, but too often he is not booting corner kicks into the box, electing to play it short, and some of his free kicks are very off-the-mark. Nevertheless, he had some wonderful moments too, including the pass to Rivero to put him in on a breakaway in the first half and the delivery to Waston in the second. The Whitecaps just need more consistency from him. As a final note, I think not having Rosales will really effect him as teams will be able to focus on him more. Also, he really needs to play up the field more in my opinion.

Nicolas Mezquida: B

Nico started in place of Rosales and played an okay game. His link-up that we saw with Rivero previously was not as good, but it is important to remember it is just one game. Hopefully more will come going forward.

Kekuta Manneh: C-

Speaking of one game, let’s hope that is all it is with Manneh. Wow, was he bad. After being a threat in the first two games he was completely nullified against Orlando. To be fair, I did not watch him too closely for extended periods so I am unsure whether Robbo was having him play back a bit more or if the speed of the Portuguese fullback meant that he was not able to exploit his best assets. We will let the probably red card be left as I am sure that has been beat to death since the game.

Octavio Rivero: A-

Rivero was the hero once again and has now scored in each game. It is hard to fault the guy who won the game on a marvellous header but I gave him an A- because I have seen something in the past few games that I would like to see less of. Fans have complained plenty in the past about the South American time-wasting and flopping style and I have seen that a bit too much in Rivero’s game. I love his play and I love his aggression but, how easy he goes down sometimes, looking for the call, and his laying around on the pitch just prior to the goal is very frustrating. I hope that is taken out of his game although I suspect it will not, given the South American culture of the team (take the good with the bad I guess). Otherwise, another strong game from Rivero and he will be an important to the Whitecaps success this season.

Substitutes C+

Jordan Harvey; Erik Hurtado; Kianz Froese

When making a substitution, the hope is that you inject some life into the team and change the game in some important way. Had the Whitecaps not won, I think there would be more discussion that the substitutes were ineffective. Not that they played poorly but rather their inclusion did not really change the game. Maybe that is too much to ask of the substitutes but I feel that is a key component of their ‘job’. At the end of the game, I would characterize the work of the substitutes as effective, but not noteworthy: just average.

Special Addition

Cyle Larin B+

Canadian, and 1st Overall SuperDraft pick Cyle Larin played his first minutes as a professional for Orlando City. He had a few great opportunities and could have been the hero for the Lions if not for a great save by Ousted. Given the scoring problems of Orlando so far this season, expect to see more of Larin going forward. As a Canadian that will be instrumental to the National Team’s success in the future, I wish him the best of luck!

So, what were your thoughts on the individual performances of players during the Orlando City game? Let us know!