Well, the Vancouver Whitecaps finally won a game, beating the Columbus Crew IN Columbus 3-1. However, it was anything from a masterful performance. While the result looks good, if not for a fortunate last 20 minutes few could have argued/ that the Whitecaps season was done. However, they won and the fight for the playoffs continue. Let's take a look at the performances. Keep in mind that a C+/B- is 'average'.
David Ousted (A-): The consensus seems to be that Ousted has not performed as well this season as last. However, it is scary to think where the Whitecaps would be without some of his outstanding reactionary saves. Once again, Vancouver was saved by a great save from Ousted, preserving the 2-1 lead. If not for that save, the match would have probably ended in a draw and the Caps chance of making the playoffs would be over, being 7-points back of Portland.
Defense (B+): The partnership between Waston and Edgar seems to be improving and they could be a formidable pairing next season. The fullbacks were acceptable. The returning Harvey was his steady self, while Smith was not a massive liability defensively; which is all we can hope for these days. It is a shame that the Aird experiment at RB appears to be over though. I feel he is more defensively sound than Smith and gave plenty going forward. I would rather have him in there than Smith.
Midfield (C): The Vancouver Whitecaps decided to play a 4-4-2 against Columbus and that resulted in two defensive midfielders more central and two out-wide. It didn't work. The foursome looked very disjointed and unable to string together several passes. Despite Bolanos shining for Costa Rica he did very little on Saturday while Techera was neutralized (a common theme this season).
Forward (C-): If the midfielders were invisible, then what would we call the forward pairing of Barnes and Kudo? I have been a supporter of Kudo from the beginning and looked forward to seeing what he could bring offensively to the Caps. Despite a few positive moments to begin his playing career, he has been very disappointing since. To be fair though, Barnes looked equally invisible in this match, so maybe you could attribute some of the poor play from Barnes and Kudo to the lack of service from the midfield.
Substitutes (A): In his first match as manager (Robbo was suspended), Martin Pert did a great job with his substitutes. Sure, the first one in the 55th minute was due to an injury to Teibert, but didn't that look like a genius move with Jacobson notching the winner 20 minutes later. Pert then removed the ineffective Barnes from the match in the 61st minute and replaced him with Hurtado. Sure, Hurtado can't hit the net, but at least he would stretch the game and bring some excitement to a very boring match. Not like Barnes was looking dangerous. Turns out though, that the decision to put Hurtado in was brilliant as he smashed home an Edgar rebound, off a corner kick.
I believe that the impact that Hurtado and Jacobson had on the final score emphasized an important point that should not be overlooked. The two were substituted in during the 55th and 61st minutes. Translation, give the substitutes a chance to have an impact on the match. If things are not working, don't wait until the 75th minute to make a switch. It takes a bit to get into the flow of the match (typically), so give them some time by making the switch sooner rather than later.
At the end of the day, the Whitecaps were victorious on the road, in Columbus, and maintain their slim playoff hopes. Next up, Seattle this weekend. Win that and suddenly things are looking a bit different with home matches against Colorado, Portland, and Seattle and an away match at San Jose. They could actually do it!
Those were my takes on the performances Saturday afternoon. What were your thoughts? Let us know if you agree or disagree.