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Report Card: Whitecaps vs Sporting Kansas City

Two early goals and a red card before halftime tell the overall tale, but what can we learn from each player's performance last Saturday?

John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Matches with a red card are never fun.  Someone will most likely be hurt through an egregious action and the imbalance of an 11 v 10 matchup immediately shows its one-sidedness.  Strategies change. Priorities change. Everything pretty much damn well changes.

Everything, except for how the Whitecaps were still losing 2-0 once Jordan Smith was sent off.  So not only is there a hole to get out of, but now we're being buried alive?  What fun!

David Ousted - B-

Outside of the two goals, he didn't have much to do other than keep himself on his toes and be ready for the low, hard strikes fortunately placed directly at him.  I suppose you could make the argument that he had a slight chance in stopping each goal, but in doing so you'd be saying that he'd have to bat down Dom Dwyer's rocket, then somehow find a way to cover the 192 square feet of netting Dwyer had to aim at on the second.

Tim Parker & Kendall Waston - C

For me, they were basically the same person out there: ball-watching goliaths.  Had the occasional clearance from the back, but both were seemingly stuck in the turf, stepping late to balls on the ground or losing out on some in the air. Were fortunate that some late headers off corners were not on-target.

Jordan Smith - D

Though he wasn’t playing terribly before the red, it certainly wasn't great.  He was better than Aird had been last week, but was challenged often by Graham Zusi’s pace.  Overall, it felt like he was far too eager to get up the pitch too often.  He definitely has to go on overlapping runs, but they almost felt telegraphed by how far wide he would start.  Wasn't subtle.

Regarding the Red, by no means am I trying to argue against it, as it was certainly deserved, but leading up to it I counted maybe 4 or 5 times where a player had slipped or tripped on the night's slick, rainy pitch.  A step or two before the foul, Smith began to stumble and fell in to Zusi, thighs (and not feet) first.  Perhaps it was just an immense amount of awkwardness, because who in their right mind goes in for a slide tackle when the ball is eight feet away?

Jordan Harvey - B

Probably didn't get up-field as much as he could have in the first half, though something can be said how most of the attacks on his side of the field were well defended.  In the second, was able to get down field quite a bit more, and had a great ball to Rivero in setting up the PK.  Another steady performance to start the year.

Matías Laba - C

Did his usual thing of stepping in front of passes and whatnot, and he certainly did the brunt of it in the second half.  But my only beef is what happened on the second goal, and it’s not even really Laba's fault.

He gets forced off the ball at center by Roger Espinoza and ends up well out of position.  At that point, the defense is left on its figurative back foot and starts ball-watching.  Space opens up on the left and no one corrects for the absence of Laba.  Admittedly great ball movement from one side to the other and back: Zusi to Chance Myers to Dwyer, to the back of the net.  Should Laba have opened up such a huge gap in front of his center D?  Only if he wins the ball; instead, he was left in the dust and the backline just wasn't prepared.

Deybi Flores - C- 

He looked lost on the pitch, and subsequently subbed off at half.  Pressured the center of the pitch well, but a few too many giveaways, especially on Dwyer's rocket, and ultimately owned by the veteran Espinoza.

Kekuta Manneh - B

For long stretches, seemed like the only one with any life for the Whitecaps.  Probably should have buried in the 7th minute, definitely should have buried in the 20th.  Played really well with the ball at his feet, but frustration/desperation may have shown through in the second, as he shot from wherever he stood on the pitch. 

Cristian Techera - B-

Before being subbed at half for Kianz Froese, Techera had been doing a good job of breaking up-field in front of Smith, but had a couple of moments where he was waiting for the pass to come to him rather than going to meet it.

Though Techera and Manneh both did a reasonable job in staying true to the counterattack style, something should be said about the corner kicks they earned.  As in, there was ZERO of them, compared to last week's 10 against Montreal.  The expectation isn't to go straight to the corner per se, but it is a little telling in that nothing was earned from down the side of the pitch.

Pedro Morales - C+

I don't think I heard his name during the first 20 minutes, and certainly didn't see him until Soni Mustivar shouldered him off the ball in SKC's box in the 15th minute.  Maybe he wasn’t getting the right kind of service in order to distribute.  Does he need to play higher? Lower?  Or have someone like Andrew Jacobsen share the middle with him, providing two good options to outlet the ball?  His free kicks were well-taken, and he buried the PK, so that's something.

Octavio Rivero - B-/C+

Isn't really the target man that the Whitecaps so desperately need, and probably needed to be a little tougher on the ball (PLEASE don't assume it's a foul just because you're on the turf!), but had moments where his off the ball play (tracking back from center to help on D, getting onto the thru ball to earn the PK) and his passing (that through ball to Manneh in the 20th!) could have turned the game on its head.

Fraser Aird - B

Certainly better than last week's inauspicious start, and paired well with Harvey as dual sideline threats once the Caps went down to 10 men.  More importantly, he closed down Zusi very well and helped keep the score from ballooning.

Kianz Froese - B-

Rather nameless once he got on at halftime, but on defense sometimes that's what is needed.  Work hard, dig in your heels, and get rid of the ball.  The only hiccup may have been the odd foul he committed in front of SKC's box.  Don't want to do that too often when you're on the attack.

Blas Perez - B-

Slid in to Rivero's "target" position once he came on in the 67th.  Never truly threatened in the offensive end, but had moments where you could see his hunger for the ball.  And the occasional overly dramatic reaction to a foul.  Nevertheless, he moved well off the ball, distributed well when he had it, but was never a true threat around the box.  Had this been 11 v 11, he may have snuck in a late equalizer.