Robbo surprised us all with a different 11 from the team that owned San Jose on Wednesday. Unbelievably he left out Reyna and Techera who comprise two of the magic three with Montero that have never been beat this season when on the field together. After the game Robbo admitted the two weren’t fit to start. It forced him to field an 11 without two of his most dangerous attackers. They came away without ceding a goal. Now he is loading up for a major showdown in Seattle and everybody better come out flying.
As for the game played on Sunday, here are the individual grades:
Waston/ Parker, B+
Kendall Waston was a force at CB once again. He cleared everything that came his way. Seattle didn’t look to have much octane in their attack on the night and Waston doused whatever juice they had. He may need to buy his crossbar a drink after the game for saving him from a thunderous own goal early on. Parker was also solid and deserves to share credit for the shutout.
After Waston, I thought Jake Nerwinsky was the most effective Whitecap on the night. His defensive game shone on the night. He was often tested down his side and repeatedly got his body in the way of Kelvin Jones’ crosses. Spraying in balls off the wing is a big part of the Seattle attack, and there weren’t many that looked dangerous coming from his side of the pitch.
Whatever unnameable affect that Tony Tchani may, or may not, have on this team that keeps him in the lineup and the team winning completely disappears when he plays in a forward position. His frequent inability to make a good pass became so much more apparent, and what is he doing on the wing when he crosses a ball as badly as that? Alphonso Davies anyone?
Nosa Igiebor is not a bad player, in fact he looks like he will be a steady, hardnosed DM for this team and a permanent figure in the starting 11. But for this game, he has still not gelled with his brand-new teammates. The understanding is not yet there and he was often turning left instead of right or misreading his forwards intentions with an errant pass. He played a pretty solid defensive game, but was less effective moving forward.
De Jong, C+
I am a fan of playing De Jong in these playoffs. He is bringing some skill on the ball, a decent passing range and dedicated defending to the game. He looked good, but the one thing missing against Seattle was some success from all his buildup.
Aly Ghazal played a steady game in the defensive midfield. He didn’t make the spectacular tackle that we’ve seen from him, but he didn’t have to. He managed to shut things down in the central midfield and not fall into Lodeiro’s drop, tuck and roll, and hope for a foul call trap.
Brek Shea, C
Brek was in the mix all night, but he never really got a good chance on goal, nor did he look too dangerous. Brek, when you are barrelling down on goal with one defender to beat, don’t hold up the ball. Take him on and see what you can do.
Reyna/ Techera, C-
Without these two in the lineup the Whitecaps attack was toothless. It was a controversial decision to bring them off the bench, especially after Cristian Techera’s strong game on Wednesday. When they finally did sub in at the 60’ mark there wasn’t much of a game left with Seattle’s game wasting antics and all the pushing and shoving grinding the match into the turf. If the ‘Caps move on after the second leg it, will be because these two start, and are at the top of their game.
Fredy Montero didn’t get much time on the ball. He was gamely running at defenders all night long, but there’s not much joy to be had stranded by himself on the island of Montero. Especially with only Tchani, Shea and Igiebor to pass him the ball. Oh yeah, and this guy…
Christian Bolaños, D
It looked like he was back in form against the Earthquakes. But against a somewhat better team, because we know Seattle will have a more formidable lineup on Thursday, he disappeared again. Bolaños was the only midfielder Robbo started who possesses the facility to truly direct the attack, and it just wasn’t there from him.