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Report Card: Vancouver vs. NY Red Bulls

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The Whitecaps flip the deck with a new formation to manage the loss of key players to international duty.

MLS: Vancouver Whitecaps FC at New York Red Bulls Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The loss of Bolaños, Waston and Reyna proved to be a real problem for the Whitecaps ability to create in the final third and control the first third (at least as much as we are accustomed to seeing). Robbo lamented earlier in the week how he would like to have a set 11 to close out the season. Well, not only did he shuffle up his starters, he shuffled the system.

Usually when I insert a grade for the formation I throw it in at the end, because the report card is about player performance and not cheeky little comments about tactics from the writer. But, I can’t seem to separate the effect of Robbo’s 3 at the back experiment from what the players were able to do out there.

The 5-3-2 (because it was rarely a 3-5-2):

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen the team line up in this formation at the start of a game and it didn’t work any better this time. The five at the back combined with the self-proclaimed identity of the team of absorbing pressure and hoping for a break on the counter proved too defensive. There was nothing left to move forward with. It seemed like a good idea to put Hurtado up top with Montero so some of those long balls out of the defense might actually find a target, but it didn’t turn out that way. All it seemed to do was completely negate any playmaking from the midfield. Or, with Reyna and Bolaños away, was there any attacking creativity left in the centre of the park? The tactical shift in the second half to the familiar 4 at the back, with the addition of Mezquida, at least looked like it could have some promise. Let’s keep the 3-5-2 in the fieldhouse for the rest of the season. Robbo gets an F for getting it wrong.

Maund, Parker, De Jong: C-

The formation didn’t work, and while Parker and De Jong broke up some plays, they were also completely broken down on the first two goals.

Nerwinski, Harvey: C-

Often caught up field, the high wingbacks rarely got anything resembling a cross until the formation change.

Ghazal, Tchani: C-

Ghazal did what he could and played the way we’ve seen him play up to now with a few nice tackles and balls won. Tchani was who we thought he was, doing his thing, breaking up the odd play and giving the ball away.

Davies: D+

It’s hard to give Davies a D since he didn’t really do much more wrong than anyone else. He was a victim of the play passing over his head all night. But he didn’t have any impact on the game and when he did have the ball seemed to hold on to it too long to find a teammate.

Ousted: C-

He didn’t look terrible. But, he also wasn’t the shot stopper we have grown to love. In order for the self-proclaimed tactic of inviting pressure and hoping for the counter, the team needs some spectacular saves, and that did not happen in NY.

Hurtado, Montero: C-

I don’t think either player had a shot on goal, or a decent one anyway.

Ibini, Shea, Mezquida: B-

Once the subs came on the chances followed. Of course, the score was already out of hand. But, Ibini looked dangerous, and Mezquida had a couple breaks up the middle. That may have been the starting 11 Robbo was looking for. Easy to say now.

It didn’t seem like the players didn’t show up to play in this one as badly as we saw in Seattle. Still, the result remained the same. Do you agree? Do we blame this one on the gaffer? How much was on tactics and how much on the players themselves?