The Vancouver Whitecaps went into Saturday night’s contest against Eastern Conference opponent Orlando City Soccer Club with a good opportunity to get a much-needed seven points from their 3 home game week. Unfortunately, a slow start and a lucky second half resulted in the Whitecaps escaping BC Place with a 2-2 draw; which they will be disappointed about.
That is not to say that there were no positives to take away from Saturday’s match. The contest saw the debut of 15-year-old Alphonso Davies. I am certainly of the mindset to be calm and not put too much pressure on the kid, but he was certainly enjoyable to watch. His work ethic and pace were fantastic. It is hard to stay grounded as a fan at the potential of this lad.
Saturday night’s match also saw the Whitecaps ‘summer signing’, striker Masato Kudo, get his second straight start. Like Wednesday, Kudo looked good in the striker position, linking up with Nicolas Mezquida, Christian Bolanos, and Pedro Morales quite well.
Finally, the Morales/Mezquida combo play looked sharp. They linked up very well to setup some great opportunities. Bolanos and Andrew Jacobson looked good too, but I will leave that for the Report Card.
On the negative side, the Vancouver Whitecaps were lucky to come away with 1 point getting off to a slow start, which Orlando capitalized on in the 14th minute with a goal from Julio Baptista. The Whitecaps were able to fight back with a 35th minute goal from Mezquida and 43rd minute goal from Kudo and go to the half with a possibly undeserved 2-1 lead.
Despite a record of 7 wins, 0 losses, and 1 draw when leading at halftime, the Whitecaps were unable to maintain their lead more than 5 minutes into the second half when Canadian Cyle Larin scored on a great header. However, the Whitecaps were fortunate not to lose the match, after Jordan Smith gave up a terrible penalty in the 60th minute. If not for a TERRIBLE penalty kick by goal scorer Baptista, we would be writing about a disappointing loss for the Caps.
While the Whitecaps showed some attacking flare to close out the game, thanks to the substitution of Cristian Techera in the 63rd minute and Davies in the 77th, the team could not capitalize and had to rely on some late-game heroics once again from David Ousted.
The Whitecaps have to be disappointed with how this week ended. The tight Western Conference means that every point is crucial and to give up a last second goal last Saturday and then to come out flat against a tired and depleted Orlando City team, who are in disarray, is not the sign of a championship caliber team. Moreover, the once stout defense is one goal away from equaling their total goals allowed from last season. To close on a positive note, the Whitecaps are second in Major League Soccer in goals for. Not too shabby for a team that many fans still consider to be needing more offense. The key is shoring up that defense. But how….