The Whitecaps finish the season third place in the western conference. They had flirted with first for so long that falling down to third feels like a disappointment even though every single one of us would have taken that position moving into the playoffs at the start of the year. The ultimate regular season game ended in a 2-1 loss to the now first-in-the--west Portland Timbers,
Here are the grades:
Marinovic – C-
He seems to have done what no other ‘Cap goalie has done so far, that is to wrest the first-choice keeper position from David Ousted. It took some exceptional play in his last two games to achieve that feat, but unfortunately this one didn’t go as well for him. Marinovic was found culpable on the first Timbers goal when he palmed away a ball that looked to be catchable. The rebound fell to the foot of Liam Ridgewell to tie the score. That first goal play would have never happened had Ghazal let a ball in the box harmlessly run past the end line. No one called him off the ball and maybe that should have been Marinovic too. Do we see Ousted return between the posts on Wednesday?
Igiebor – B
In a surprise move, Robbo gave Nosa Igiebor his debut as a ‘Cap in the start of one of the biggest games of the season. Nosa is able to handle the ball in the pressure cauldron that is the defensive midfield, and he shows to be a strong, hard-nosed body. He didn’t have a chance to break out on this day, but I’m looking forward to see what an Igiebor attack down the middle will look like. I think our midfield just became a lot harder to play against.
Reyna – B-
Yordy Reyna had a tough night. He was placed forward up field in the seldom seen 4-4-2 formation Robbo set up. He just didn’t have the chance to influence the play with his customary flare. It was worrying to see how easily Portland’s physical play rubbed Reyna off the ball. He was surely frustrated, because we aren’t used to see him run into defense and lose the ball as often as he did.
Waston – B+
Kendall Waston snapped a header off a perfect Reyna set piece ball for the game’s opening goal. That goal in such close proximity to his WC qualifying header last week has everyone looking at him as the ‘Caps’ fiercest offensive weapon. The truth is, he still hasn’t scored as many set piece goals as we expected of him. It may be unfair to put that much pressure on him to score, but if Waston is the big game scoring machine that his reputation is slowly declaring, then the MLS playoffs could be his oyster.
Ghazal – B+
Laba who? I say that too flippantly, as I still think a Ghazal/Laba DM pairing would have been formidable. But Aly made some Laba like tackles and has his own way of bossing the midfield. The team’s playoff success will largely depend on Ghazal’s physical game.
Shea/Ibini – B/D
I thought Shea had a good game. He was involved in a number of chances and seemed dangerous all night. Ibini on the other hand seemed to disappear for long stretches of the match. Either he wasn’t doing what was necessary for his teammates to find him, or the game plan was not to run through him. Once he was substituted off for Montero the ‘Caps created more going forward.
Bolaños – D
Bolaños has not found his game at the club level this season for any extended period of time, and this game was no different. The return of his set piece deliveries were a welcome addition, but where is the crafty footwork that so often gets him out of trouble and settles the team until he springs someone. We have seen so much more from Bolaños. With the playoffs beginning on Wednesday he is out of time. The team needs him to be at his best right now.