A fine performance by the Whitecaps Saturday lifted them over a road-weary Sporting Kansas City side 2-0. Goals from Christian Techera and Tim Parker sealed three points for the home side, who lined up with the same starting XI for the fifth match in a row—a first in the Carl Robinson era. Below is the report card from the match:
David Ousted: B
The Dane had little to do for much of the match and denied Gerso Fernandes twice in SKC’s best chances on the afternoon. A well earned third clean sheet on the year for Ousted.
Sheanon Williams: C
An unspectacular match from Williams. While he was beaten badly by Gerso in the 52nd minute to nearly give away the equalizer, the 27-year-old also came up with a couple vital tackles to deny the visitors. It was also his cross which set up Christian Techera’s goal and it was one of several solid passes Williams sent in from the right flank. Despite some doubters, Williams has proved himself a marked improvement over Jordan Smith at right back (although this isn’t a particularly high bar).
Kendall Waston: A-
While Bolanos’ chest and Techera’s finish will get all the praise on the Caps’ first goal, it was Waston’s long pass to Sheanon Williams which set up the eventual finish. That booming distribution was a trademark from Waston’s performance and he effectively set up one or two other chances. Hopefully The Big Man continues to hone this element of his game, as it immediately boosted the Whitecap attack. Waston did not shirk his defensive duties either and came up big to deny Latif Blessing in the 20th minute, even if the Ghanaian was later ruled offsides. Overall, another strong effort from the Costa Rican.
Tim Parker: A-
Parker will get well-earned kudos for the second goal, an unbeatable flick past Tim Melia. But he complimented his characteristically strong play on the defensive side with multiple dangerous runs on set pieces which culminated, of course, in that 67th minute goal. Parker was astute in his defensive duties as well, heading away several dangerous SKC crosses, but if he continues to be an asset to Vancouver on both the defensive and attacking ends he could be in line for his first U.S. Men’s National Team call-up in short order.
Gerso Fernandes was always going to be one of the most dangerous men on the pitch after his hat trick against Seattle in the mid week and Jordan Harvey found that out in a hurry. The Bissau-Guinean beat Harvey to give Sporting Kansas City their best chance of the match in the 20th minute. Gerso nearly forced another dangerous chance less than 10 minutes later and Harvey was saved by a dubious foul call from the referee. These moments were indicative of the struggles Harvey had against the pacey winger early on, although the left back settled in as the match went on and even got the better of Graham Zusi on a couple of occasions.
Matias Laba: B-
In a first half marked by low energy performances from both teams, Laba was a standout. Buzzing all around the pitch, making tackles and forcing turnovers, he was perhaps the Caps’ best player in the first 45 minutes. While he was less effective in the second half, this was largely because the entire squad looked more lively. His outing was marred, however, by a needless yellow card in the dying moments of the game and that booking will mean a suspension for next week’s match against D.C. United. While Laba’s status as one of the preeminent defensive mids in MLS is well known, his lack of discipline is starting to become a major issue for the Caps, as the Argentine keeps getting unnecessary cards.
Andrew Jacobsen/Tony Tchani: B
Saturday’s match epitomized the role Tchani and Jacobsen play in the Whitecaps’ system. While both contributed offensively, neither was instrumental in attack. Instead, their play in midfield largely stonewalled SKC’s attempts to play through the middle and pushed the visitors out wide. Both came up with strong tackles and intercepted countless passes to frustrate SKC and set a physical tone early. Tchani especially is beginning to prove his worth to Vancouver and both MLS veterans have been instrumental in the success of the 4-1-4-1 formation.
Christian Techera: B+
Techera’s sublime finish will be the contribution most likely to show up on the highlight reels and, potentially, earn The Bug goal of the week honors. But his third goal of the year was only part of a more complete performance. He used his pace to wear down a fatigued SKC side, most notably in the 37th minute where he beat two defenders and whipped in a cross that whizzed just above the head of Christian Bolanos. Went the full 90 minutes in perhaps his strongest performance of the year.
Christian Bolaños: A-
While multiple players have a shout at man of the match, my money is on Bolaños. In the first half, the 33-year-old showed good intelligence and movement, even if it didn’t lead to a bona fide chance. His clever chest to set up Techera’s goal was matched by his beautifully weighted free kick to set up Parker and put the match to bed. Bolaños had multiple chances in the 59th and 62nd minutes to grab a goal of his own but was denied by a brilliant performance from Tim Melia. The Costa Rican pulled the strings on a Whitecaps attack that was firing on all cylinders.
Fredy Montero: B-
Let’s start with the good from Montero: the Colombian was aggressive in taking on defenders and was bold (perhaps too much so at times) in his dribbling. He was much better integrated into the attack than in the Houston match and nearly got a third goal for the Whitecaps in the dying stages of the game after a lovely interchange with Nicolas Mezquida. The bad, of course, was his suboptimal penalty strike, which Tim Melia handled with aplomb. The miss is Montero’s second of the year and his frustration from the poor shot lingered and was evident as the match wore on. All it takes for Montero to re-establish himself is one goal but the Caps’ star has been largely invisible the past few matches.
Alphonso Davies: B
A dynamic sub, who showed good interplay, especially with Bolanos and Techera. It was his pace, after all, which resulted in the foul which led to the decisive second goal. While Davies is likely to start one of the next couple matches, he seems to be settling into a role as a super sub, using his athleticism to torch tired defenders and create chances and win fouls.
Brek Shea and Nicholas Mezquida earned brief cameos at the end but did not stick around long enough to warrant ratings.