The Vancouver Whitecaps earned a clean sheet and put four goals in the back of Real Salt Lake's goal on Saturday evening at BC Place. Not bad for a team that has been accused of having an endemic offense. While the Whitecaps had a complete game all around, there were some players who stood out among the rest due to their contributions on the day. Let me pull out my red marker and put down my some of my assessments:
Cristian Techera (A) - Techera must wish that his team would face RSL every week. The tiny winger has now scored three out of his four MLS goals against the Utah side. Scoring a brace will always earn you high marks in my book but it was more that his goals that made him stand out on Saturday night. His speed (those short legs can really move), intelligent movement and high soccer IQ on the right flank is stretching opposing defensive lines effectively creating pockets of space for his Uruguayan colleagues Nico Mezquida and Octavio Rivero and, to a lesser degree, allows Steven Beitashour to display more vertical football. Techera also brings an upgraded level of service with his educated left foot.
Nicolas Mezquida (A-) - The calf injury that has sidelined Pedro Morales for almost two months has been a blessing in disguise for the Blue and White. The absence of the captain has opened the window for Nico to receive more meaningful minutes on the pitch and his inclusion in the starting XI has brought another dimension to Carl Robinson's team. Mezquida's youthful exuberance is allowing the Whitecaps to deploy their traditional 4-2-3-1 in a different fashion. The ‘Caps are starting the games banging on all cylinders, pressing their rivals high, provoking errors and getting early goals. The Whitecaps have scored within the first ten minutes in each of their last three matches. Moreover, the chemistry that Nico continues to develop with his attacking teammates is likely making it more difficult for the Welsh tactician to pull him out of the starting XI.
Jordan Harvey (A-) - Jordan Harvey was involved in two of the Whitecaps goals. The veteran left back seems to have received an injection of youth serum. Most likely it came from his young counterparts Sam Adekugbe and Christian Dean who have proven themselves to be more than capable of covering his position. Harvey's attacking input has been complemented by his defensive solvency - which has characterized him over the last couple years.
Gershon Koffie (B-) The Ghanian had a game that meets the "tale of two halves" cliché. During the first half, Gershon failed to make an impression on the game due to poor distribution and overall positioning which did not allow him to take control of the midfield. All these deficiencies were corrected in the second half and we saw a display reminiscent of the Gershon Koffie of old, the Gershon who is able to recover the ball, drive it forward and, with the help of his physical presence, take the midfield by the scruff of the neck.
Are there other notables that I missed? Make sure to let us know in the comments section.