Wednesday night’s match against Tigres UANL in the CONCACAF Champions League was undoubtedly going to be one of the more difficult challenges the Vancouver Whitecaps have faced, needing to overturn their 2-0 loss in San Nicolás de los Garza three weeks ago. Though the odds were long and effort was valiant, the ‘Caps could not turn the tide, ultimately losing 2-1, and 4-1 on aggregate.
So, what can be said about the night’s performances in what CascadianLion succinctly described as “Mission: Unlikely”?
David Ousted - B
The majority of the night was quiet for Ousted, but that was to be expected: the Whitecaps needed to press and Tigres needed to possess. He didn’t have much chance on either goal: the first an amazing strike, the second on the counter attack against a defense rushing to get back. However, he did make some big saves late to keep the ‘Caps in the match:
Kendall Waston/Tim Parker - C-/C+
Like Ousted, these two weren’t given too much trouble early on. Both looked calm, but Parker was the better man for me: far more of his passes found their way to Whitecaps, whereas Waston’s clearances, whether off his foot or his head, were just dumps rather than passes to anyone in particular. I also wonder if he could have done more to prevent the first goal from actually being shot (not the shot itself; that was brilliant).
Sheanon Williams/Jordan Harvey - C/C-
Where Williams looked calm & collected to start the match, Harvey looked nervy and took a few too many fouls (particularly in the attacking end) for a team that needed to make something of every possession. Both looked better defensively in the second half but unfortunately, neither truly threatened on the attack.
Matias Laba/Andrew Jacobson - C/C-
Defensively, both were fine, but the passing was often sloppy. Not quite what you need when you’re in dire need of two goals.
Cristian Techera - B-
His touch was decent, he put in the cross that led to the goal, but the final-third passing just wasn’t there. Case in point: what was with the backheel to no one in the 72nd minute??
Christian Bolanos - B
Distributed well throughout the match, and smartly put the ball to space in front of Techera, rather than into the penalty area scrum, on the free kick that led to the third-minute breakthrough. However, still needs to find a way to link-up better with Montero (of course, doing so is on both players...).
Brek Shea - A/Inc.
Maybe it’s a cop out to give him both a grade and an incomplete after being subbed early due to the injury, but I really don’t care: his goal off a rebound gave everyone the early hope that the Whitecaps could make something of this return match. His injury & tenth-minute removal from the match will ultimately be one of those “What If?” moments.
Alphonso Davies - C+
From the moment he came on the pitch for Shea, he was a bull, sprinting up and down the pitch, trying to make something from nothing. However, that boisterous energy naturally waned the longer the match progressed.
The result? Sometimes making the wrong decision on the attack, holding the ball for too long rather than passing:
Those are his 1 v 1 attacks against Tigres’ defenders, and he nearly had more failures than other Whitecaps had attempts. Can’t fault him for trying, but here’s to hopinf for better decision making as he progresses.
Fredy Montero - D+
Felt like he was invisible for most of the match, and both his runs and his own passing were out of sync with the attacking midfielders behind him.
Tony Tchani - Inc.
Although he played nearly thirty minutes of the match, and was on the pitch for Tigres’ two goals, I would have typically left a sub off the grading, unless the sub played the majority of a match.
With that in mind, should Tchani have picked up the trailing André-Pierre Gignac on Tigres’ opening goal? Or should Waston not have dropped as deep into the penalty area? Both came sprinting out just as Gignac released his wonderstrike.