The Vancouver Whitecaps won their second road match of the 2017 Major League Soccer season last night, defeating Colorado Rapids 1-0. Their win was thanks to some great link-up between substitutes Nicolas Mezquida and, newly returned from injury, Brek Shea. After sleeping on the victory, we take a bit of time to reflect on how the Whitecaps performed in our match Report Card. For reference purposes, a C+ is considered an ‘average’ grade. One final note, seeing as the match was fairly boring (especially the first half), I decided to have a bit of fun with the Report Card.
It was difficult to determine the grades for individual players as the match was rather pedestrian. While I have a few individual grades to give, I am going to focus on some various aspects of the match instead. Namely, Free Kicks, Crosses, Substitutions, etc.
Free Kicks (C): After being rather poor with their free kicks (and corner kicks) two years ago, the Caps have used set pieces as a key way for them to manufacture goals. This was especially true last season when goals were so hard to come by. This season, the Caps seem to have more goals from open play, but have also scored several goals directly or subsequently from set piece opportunities. While many felt Cristian Techera had a good game, I felt that his free kicks and crosses (more on that shortly) were off, compared to where he has been of late. Maybe that is too harsh as he has been superb lately. However, that is the standard he has created with his great work. Christian Bolanos was also quite poor on his opportunities (corner kicks) and I cannot recall if Mezquida had many opportunities after his substitution.
Crosses (C): Again, the Whitecaps seemed average to a bit below average with their crosses. There were several times when balls were miss hit and skirted along the ground rather than in the air. When the ball did get into the air, many seemed arrant. Maybe it was the thin air in Colorado or the lack of…..competition? Nevertheless, Williams, Harvey, Bolanos, and Techera were rather poor in their crossing.
Tony Tchani (C-): Remember when Tchani made his Whitecaps debut? It was against LA Galaxy and the Caps quickly scored 2 goals. Many were lauding Tchani as the driving force behind that comeback. Since then, Tchani has been poor. In many instances, positives from Tchani have simply been ‘well, at least he is average’. That is not what you want from the acquisition who was supposed to be your connecting force between your defense and offense. Friday was another poor outing for Tchani. It hasn’t been so much that he has played poorly, but rather he has looked tentative and uncertain. It may be his lack of chemistry with the team or maybe feeling the pressure. Whatever the problem, it is something that needs to be corrected shortly.
Kendall Waston & Tim Parker (A+): Just another day at the office for the center back pairing. As has been the case all season long, Waston and Parker were exceptional. They were strong, disciplined, and composed. Parker showed some great edge with some of his tackles (were they actually tackles?) while Waston showed…speed! Yes, you read that correctly. What I was most shocked about last night was his late game run down the flank to catch up with a Colorado attacker who had recently been substituted on (Harrison I believe?). That is correct, Waston caught up and overtook a speedy winger. That was impressive and something we would not expect from Waston.
David Ousted (and his posts) (A+): Without Ousted’s strong work between the pipes again, we would not be talking about a Caps win. At most, we would be discussing a Caps draw, and quite possibly a loss. Never giving up on a play, Ousted made a superb save to keep the Caps alive
Interestingly, it may not even get save of the week, thanks to it being put on goal by Harvey and Bono’s save on Cyle Larin on Wednesday evening.
Starting XI (A): I can’t fault Carl Robinson going with the same 11 for three straight matches. They have looked solid against Portland and Montreal. I would not be surprised to see him keep the same 11 for a fourth straight match next Friday against Houston. However, there are questions around Tchani’s play. Moreover, with Shea back in the fold, Bolanos preferring to be on the wing, and the option of Mezquida in the middle, we could see a change. It would be risky though. Why mess with what is working, as adjusting the lineup would probably mean going back to 4-2-3-1. Hmm…
Substitutes (A): The substitutes Robinson made seemed to be the right ones. Not just because all three connected for the winning goal, but because they were the players that needed to come off when they did. Tchani’s poor play necessitated Alphonso Davies coming in. While many felt Techera was having a good match, everyone knew that Shea would get some minutes yes? Finally, Bolanos was not completely ‘on’ last night, so Robbo inserted Mezquida who could be the playmaker. In the end, Davies was the hustle and determination/fight, Mezquida was the playmaker needed, and Shea was the speed and finish required to get the winner.
Referee Substitution (B+): I don’t think I have ever seen a ref be substituted out during a match. I am still not sure what happened. Maybe he felt a bit of a twinge/pull in his thigh and decided to play it safe and come off? Regardless, it was a smooth transition, but potentially led to a different match. Jorge Gonzalez was letting the teams play a bit rougher and with Younes Marrakchi coming in, it was unclear whether he would continue to let the teams fight for the ball or if he would be stricter. Turned out alright.
Away Supporters (A+): Sure, there was only one away supporter, but he was loud and proud.
That is it from me. What were your thoughts on the match? Who do you feel stood out? Agree/disagree with my grades? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.