In classic trap-game fashion, the Vancouver Whitecaps found yet another way to lose to the last placed (in the west) Colorado Rapids. Less than two minutes in, Vicente Sanchez slotted a shot past David Ousted, eliciting a collective groan from across the Lower Mainland. The goal knocked the wind out of the ‘Caps sails for the next ten minutes, and at times it was difficult to see how 17 points were separating the two teams prior to the match.
In the 17th minute, David Ousted came up with yet another outstanding save. His heroics seemed to give the Whitecaps the spark they needed, and a few minutes later the game was tied. Mauro Rosales, who had been buzzing all game, put in a looping cross that stranded Rapids keeper Clint Irwin and allowed Kekuta Manneh a tap in. The rest of the first half played out uneventfully, with a few half chances for Manneh and a number of squandered attacks for Darren Mattocks.
Despite Carl Robinson’s assurances to Perry Solkowski that he had spurred his team on during the halftime break, Vancouver failed to generate much in the opening minutes of the second half. They soon paid for their lack of intent when Kevin Doyle pounced on a free header in the box and sublimely finished into the bottom left corner. It was a goal that was bound to happen given the ‘Caps scrappy defense of crosses throughout the game.
The first Colorado goal elicited a patient response from the ‘Caps, but the second was met with frantic, panicky play. The lunging, gruff midfield pairing of Gershon Koffie and Deybi Flores had trouble finding consistency at the best of times, and as the game wore on they became less and less of a substantial presence. By the end of the match, the Whitecaps were attacking with useless long-balls, taking their dynamic attacking midfield right out of the match.
The lone bright spot of the game has to be Kekuta Manneh. The youngster was firing on all cylinders, flitting through the Colorado defense as though they were stationary pillars. He was unlucky not to find more goals, and really should have been given the ball more often.
It’s worth noting that the Whitecaps fielded a lineup lacking entirely in designated players, giving the distinct impression that Carl Robinson thought this game was a gimme. Perhaps this will be another blip on the radar of an opther wise successful season, but Robinson should take the time to learn from his mistakes. Colorado is a western conference opponent, and could potentially be a playoff opponent (this is MLS, nothing is certain). A week of rest for a couple of key players at the expense of three points is not a smart trade-off.