In what’s been a long and trying week for the Vancouver Whitecaps, Saturday’s match against FC Dallas ended on a positive note, with a sublime free kick goal from Cristian Techera leveling the match late and earning the club a 1-1 draw.
With a host of players being unavailable for one reason or another, Carl Robinson was forced to improvise a somewhat irregular starting eleven into a now-familiar 4-1-4-1 formation. For the most part, the Whitecaps were never truly out of place against a strong Dallas side, though it was certainly a difficult battle to earn a result, particularly after conceding early in the second half.
Nevertheless, the team had the temerity to stay in the match and ultimately netted a result. It’s not as though their lineup was entirely ragtag, but it’s encouraging for the team to earn a draw with a number of key players missing.
David Ousted - C
You could argue that Ousted may have done better on the goal from Max Urruti, considering the placement of the shot, but a screened shot and very little time to react make for a difficult save. Was fortunate nothing of consequence came from a rebound in the 59th, but overall he weather the storm well-enough.
Though I do want to give him respect for a head’s up play in the 19th minute, where he nimbly dove on the ball to prevent a corner kick, after an attempted cross deflected off Tim Parker. Very sharp.
Jake Nerwinski/Jordan Harvey - C/C+
His passing could have been better, but Nerwinski continues to impress defensively during his rookie season. He may have been caught out of position in the build up to Urruti’s goal (I doubt he anticipated Matias Laba being stripped of the ball), but more often than not Nerwinski deftly and quickly got compact and in position. And when he needed to be strong on the ball? Well...
Harvey had a very similar match to Nerwinski, though played a decent provider to Brek Shea on their side of the pitch. The strength of Dallas’ attack seemed to be through the middle more than anything else, though anything fed out to Harvey’s side of the field was adroitly handled.
Tim Parker/Andrew Jacobson - C+/C+
Parker’s presence was quiet but effective, which is perfectly fine for a defender. He made a few great tackles and blocks, but never had to be the “game changer” on the night. Steadfast and serviceable.
As much as he may dislike playing center back, Jacobson certainly does well when filling in for Kendall Waston (though the ineffective long balls were an unintended homage to the absent Costa Rican). He was the unfortunate screen on Urruti’s goal, unable to dispossess the Dallas forward while tracking back, but again played well enough when forced to the backline. The downside? His presence in the midfield was sorely missed.
Matías Laba - C-
For all the great tackles, interceptions, and recoveries he made throughout the match, Laba would occasionally undo his hard work with an aimless pass or allowing Dallas players to leverage his more ambitious tackles into flimsy fouls. Whether or not the yellow card for the handball was deserved, his being stripped of the ball prior to Urruti’s goal was just ugly.
Cristian Techera/Brek Shea - B/C-
It felt like a number of Techera’s dead balls and free kicks were off the mark, but then he goes and scores and absolute beauty to draw the Whitecaps level, so I’ll be happy to withdraw my criticisms. He bagged it when it mattered, right?
Shea definitely started well, as he was assuredly on a high from welcoming a son into the world on Father’s Day just a few hours before the match. His touch was there, though he couldn’t buy a breakthrough pass in the final third. As the match wore on, however, that high definitely faded; he was essentially invisible to start the second half. He got back into the mix of things before being substituted in the 84th minute, but it must have felt like a long day for the new father.
Tony Tchani/Russell Teibert - D+/C
The first note I made for Tchani in this match was a single word: “hesitant”. With the ball at his feet, it sometimes felt as though he would either wait for a passing lane that wasn’t coming or would try to force the ball to space that didn’t exist. By no means was he outright terrible, but the passing options he sometimes chose proved to be far too problematic.
Comparatively, Teibert was far more simplistic with his passing, which worked well with his (and Tchani’s) baring of the Dallas attack, acting far more reactively to the run of play. However, this resulted in even less dynamism than usual from the ‘Caps central midfielders. Teibert’s touch was solid at times, but again, he was much more reactive than active. Suffice to say, he wasn’t the “creator” the Whitecaps needed on the night.
Fredy Montero - C+
Wasn’t getting the best service (again, unfortunately), but made the most of what he could, instead playing provider on overlapping runs and by earning a few corner kicks out of absolutely nothing.