Well, that was disappointing wasn’t it. The Whitecaps went to Portland to take on their Cascadia Cup rival and left with a very disappointing 4-2 loss. What is most concerning is that some of the unexpected starters for Sunday’s match will be needed more in the near future. Despite the poor outcome, there were a few players that had, relatively, good games. We review each starter’s match and get your opinions, starting from the keeper and moving forward. An average grade is around a C+
With how poor the defense has been this year, Vancouver Whitecaps fans are thankful for the play of David Ousted. It is very telling that a keeper can give up 3 or 4 goals in a match and still be considered one of the best players on the field. The Whitecaps would be in a lot of trouble without him this season. The only blemish, in my opinion, was his positioning on the 4th goal free kick. He was cheating again, like he did against Toronto (?) and he was beat near-post. Tough call against him as you always have to cheat to some degree, but that resulted in a deduction from A+ to A.
Harvey (C+); Waston (F); Kah (F-); Parker (C)
Yikes! I think that sums it up. Harvey was okay, but seemed to be brought down a bit by the poor defense around him. Parker was passable, but really looked uncomfortable on the right side. While Parker is quick for a center back, he is not for a right back and was beat several times by Nagbe and others. I think this game really helped fans appreciate the contributions of Aird as that entire side looked different without him in there. As for the two center backs, what can we say but ‘wow, they sucked’. Should Kah even being playing football anymore? I mean he is always an adventure at the back, but it seemed like he was having a SuperKah match on Sunday making mistake after mistake after mistake. The scariest part of all of this is that with Dean still injured and Seiler still new, the Whitecaps might be playing a bit more Kah over the next while with Waston away at Copa America and then suspended for several games. Maybe (hopefully?) Jacobson gets some starts at CB. It is not his preference, but the thought of Kah in the middle of defense again is just as scary as Smith playing on the right side! Speaking of Waston, he has looked pretty pedestrian this season hasn’t he. With the exception of getting up and clearing away crosses, he has been pretty useless and has looked fairly lost. I am not sure if it is the loss of Beitashour as some have discussed or something else, but this has been a season to forget for the Tico.
Laba (A-); Morales (B-); Techera (C-); Bolanos (A-)
The strength of this team the past few weeks has been the midfield. Actually, it seems the strength of any successful team in MLS is the midfield. Control the midfield and you can get the ball to your strikers to score. At times, the Whitecaps were successful at this on Sunday and at other times, very poor. I have been watching Laba of late and have noticed that he has been playing higher up the pitch than last year. I am liking that switch. It allows him to get involved in the offense more. In fact, I often seen Morales playing behind Laba. I am not sure I like that. Maybe part of the reason Waston is getting exposed game in and game out is that he does not have Laba right in front of him to clear away all the problems he cannot handle. Maybe the Whitecaps are expecting too much all-around game from Waston of late? Anyway, despite a few rough matches to start the campaign, Laba appears to have returned to his old self.
Speaking of old-self, Morales was not that bad, but he seemed to return more to his woes on the road. He seemed less sharp and was very sloppy at times. After my piece on Aird a week ago and subsequent suspension and this week on Morales and his subsequent poor showing, I think I am DONE doing player pieces (I promise, no piece on Ousted!).
Opposite of his old-self, what is up with Techera this year? He seems so disjointed in his own play and linking up with his teammates. It has certainly been a poor start to the season for the diminutive one. I feel like it is a cliché, but is it confidence? The reason I say that is the trend appears to be taking too many touches. Does he not have the confidence to just go for it?
Bolanos. I recall just a month ago people calling for his head. While some of his crosses were fairly poor yesterday I felt he had another fine performance and am dreading his departure from the club for Copa America.
Manneh (A); Hurtado (B+)
While Techera has no confidence, it would appear that Manneh has lots. He has been playing different the last few games. It is not only that, but watch his body language. Watch how he stands after a play. He has this swagger to him that is key. Hopefully this confidence continues as it is needed. I think we start to see Manneh play in the striker role a bit more over the next few weeks with Kudo injured, Rivero injured/useless, and Perez at Copa.
With the weakened striker force, we should expect to see more of Hurtado as well. In the past I would have dreaded this and while I am not ‘happy’ about him playing each match, I am okay with it. He has looked very different since his exile last season. There has been a lot written about Hurtado and his change in attitude that came from the trip to Norway so I will not belabor that here. Overall though, Hurtado is making some great players. The only reason I do not want him playing all the time is that I just do not think that he is good enough nor will he be able to score enough to lead the line. Mind you, he can’t be any worse than Rivero has been over the last year, so…
Meh. Not much to write. I feel Perez did fine as expect, while Rivero and Mezquida did not contribute much, for different reasons.
There you have it. My take on the individual performances of the Vancouver Whitecaps starters in their 4-2 loss to the Portland Timbers. What are your ratings? Agree with mine? Disagree? Let us know.