The Vancouver Whitecaps remain winless in their MLS tenure in the state of Texas, as they lose 2-0 to the Houston Dynamo Saturday night. The result leaves a sour taste in the mouths of Whitecaps’ players and fans, despite an otherwise STELLAR August.
It took the Whitecaps about 10-15 minutes to get into the game, as they sat back and absorbed the early pressure from the Dynamo. However, they began to come out of their shell after that, as Darren Mattocks had some great runs, but was unable to capitalize. The Dynamo opened the scoring in the 34th minute with a scramble in front of David Ousted that resulted in a toe-poke goal from Ricardo Clark. The Whitecaps ended the first half strong with some positive play going forward and appeared to be threatening. I posed the question (to myself because no one else listens to me) ‘whether the Whitecaps could carry their momentum into the start of the second half and find the equalizer. It was not meant to be though, as the game quickly unraveled 10 minutes into the second half.
Kendall Waston quickly exited the match in the 56th minute, with his second yellow card –issued 5 minutes after his first in the 51st minute. I do not think that Whitecaps’ fans will disagree with the two yellow card calls, as both looked fairly legitimate to me; how often can you say that about Waston cards? Waston would not spend too much time on his own in the locker room, as 8 minutes later, Matias
Layba Laba made a boneheaded play and picked up HIS second yellow of the match. It was a poor decision in general, but especially boneheaded given that he had already received a yellow card AND the Whitecaps other top defender had just been sent off. Again, I do not think the Whitecaps have much to complain about with either sending off. Both appeared legitimate to me.
In a surprising move to me, Carl Robinson elected to substitute out BOTH Kekuta Manneh and Darren Mattocks. Up to that point I felt that Manneh had been having a poor game (maybe commenters here were correct about Rivero opening things up for Manneh), but felt that Manneh and Mattocks provided the best opportunity to get a point, given the ‘Caps predicament. Being down to 9 men meant the Whitecaps only hope for salvaging the game would have to come on a counterattack break. Octavio Rivero certainly has the best skillset of the three, but his game is not conducive to the ‘catch the opponent pushing up and sneak in behind for a break’ game plan. In a way, I felt that the Whitecaps were, essentially, waving the white flag at that point. I know that was not the case because there was no reason to ‘preserve’ the legs of any players given their long break after this game, but the substitution of Manneh and Mattocks really snuffed out any hope I had of the Whitecaps finding a way to get a point. The Houston Dynamo were able to seal the game with a nice, late, goal from Raul Rodriguez in the 87th minute.
It would be easy to be disappointed about how this game ended, and maybe I am too much ‘glass-half-full’, but there was a lot of positives to take away from this game and from the month. First, there were several positives to take from Jordan Smith’s first game. He looked good prior to the sending offs (I will let the report card expand). Second, Ousted is the best keeper in the league this season. Third, Mattocks had a good game, and will be needed down the stretch as a dangerous threat backing up Rivero. For the month of August, the Vancouver Whitecaps finish with 4 wins, 2 (road) losses, and 2 ties. They are in a nice position to advance in Champions League (especially given Seattle’s lost this week in Honduras; they were the winners of the Voyageurs Cup for the first time; they were crowned Canadian champions, earning a berth to the CONCACAF Champions League once again for next year; and, they finish the month 1 point out of first place in the West (with a game in-hand) and leading the Supporters’ Shield standings, based on points-per-game.
With no game next week (and no Waston or Laba) the Whitecaps will have plenty of time to reflect on this game. In years past, this game could be a possibly negative turning point for the team, especially given the long layoff, but I have no concerns that the Whitecaps will learn from this and be better down the stretch.
What are your reflections on the month that was? Worried about the CCL Sounders game, SKC & Impact late meltdowns, and poor decisions against Dynamo, or see those events as ‘things that happen during a season’?