The Vancouver Whitecaps have now played four MLS matches this season, and it's still difficult to determine exactly what they're going to bring to the table as the year wears on. They've been just good enough so far, stealing points thanks to last minute markers from Octavio Rivero and now Robert Earnshaw, but they still haven't produced a strong, 90 minute effort.
Still, it's tough to be critical of this group when you cast an eye towards the Western Conference standings; a 3-1 record, good enough for 9 points and second place behind only FC Dallas. Therefore, I'm going to be positive as I go into the report card.
David Ousted: A
With Pedro Morales sputtering, David Ousted has emerged as the Whitecaps early MVP, with his miraculous stops saving the Whitecaps bacon time and time again. Against the Timbers he was sensational yet again, allowing the Whitecaps to stage their last minute comeback. There were plenty of choice Ousted saves to pick from, but my personal favorite came in the 90th minute, when he stymied Fernando Adi from near point blank range. The 'Caps would score the match winner moments later. (You can see the save at around the 2:35 mark)
Ousted was also named the Budweiser Man of the Match.
Steven Beitashour: C
We're only four matches into the MLS season, but Steven Beitashour has simply not looked as effective as he did last season, when he made Carl Robinson look like a genius for snatching him away from the San Jose Earthquake. He allowed Rodney Wallace to sprint past him to help set up Fernando Adi's goal, and he almost allowed Adi to score a second by letting him alone in front of David Ousted in the dying moments of the match. (You can once again refer to the save above)
Beitashour deserves time to rediscover his game, but his early season struggles are definitely troubling.
Pedro Morales: B
Has the midfield wizard looked like his old self yet this season? No, but he did look far more effective against the Timbers than he did against Orlando last week. It was his perfect pass that allowed Robert Earnshaw to score the match winner, and he was far more involved in the play, racking up 5 shot attempts, his highest total of the season. The Whitecaps play another two straight in the confines of BC Place, so hopefully a hot streak is in order for the 'Caps captain.
Pa Modou Kah: C+
While the Whitecaps backline was pourous in general, Pa Modou Kah actually had one of his better games in a blue and white kit. He didn't pick up a card, and showed some real leadership on the pitch when he went after Alvas Powell for nudging Sam Adekugbe over the advertising boards. Side note, Kah looks like the scariest man alive when he's angry.
Nicolas Mezquida: B
The Whitecaps certainly have more than one option to take set pieces now, as Nicolas Mezquida showed some real skill on his match opening goal against Portland. That being said, Nico didn't produce much during the rest of the match, the second straight time you can say that. Hopefully his beauty of a goal will give him some more confidence going forward, as his MLS game continues to grow.
Robert Earnshaw (Sub): A
What else can you say about the crafty veteran? He had only been in the match for a few minutes before popping in his first as a Whitecap to send the fans home happy. While Octavio Rivero has been hailed as a brilliant move by Carl Robinson, the quiet addition of Earnshaw may prove to be his best of the season. The 33 year old clearly has a knack for scoring goals and he gives the Whitecaps some secondary stability, something they've been missing with the stable of youngsters they have to choose from at the striker position.
What do you guys think? Any grades you want to dole out?