It was a wild ride as the Vancouver Whitecaps blew a 2-0 lead to draw 2-2 with Minnesota United.
Carl Robinson’s lineup initially sparked excitement that Alphonso Davies would be playing as a box to box midfielder. As it turned out it was more of a 4-4-2 with Shea playing up front, presumably to try to get more out of Montero. The Columbian has looked a little isolated without a big target man to play off of. Unfortunately this tactic didn’t prove particularly successful.
Brek Shea was brought down by Bobby Shuttleworth to earn a penalty, continuing a season long trend of the Loons playing disastrous back passes. Cristian Techara then calmly slotted home as every Whitecaps fan breathed a huge sigh of relief.
the Whitecaps continued to press as a wonderful piece of skill from Montero in the 18th mintue Put Jordan “goal machine” Harvey through on goal, but he couldn’t squeeze it past Shuttleworth. The play was created by some excellent work by Alphonso Davies to push the ball forward.
The ‘Caps got away with one in the 22nd minute as Kevin Molino missed a sitter after a shot deflected off a Whitecap Defender.
The Whitecaps seemed to struggle in the midfield a bit with the formation change as they didn’t have the numbers and the backline was frequently forced into last ditch tackles and interceptions.
On the stroke of half time Techera whipped in a free kick that was headed thunderously home by the much maligned Tony Tchani to give the whitecaps a 2-0 lead going into the half. Amazingly the Whitecaps only had 23% possession at half time proving that how you use it is what’s most important. This was most likley a symptom of the change in tactic from three in the centre of midfield to only two.
The Whitecaps finally broke down shortly after the half as Francisco Calvo Headed home. The Bounce was enough to sneak it past David Ousted at the near post.
shortly thereafter Jérôme Thiesson equalized for Minnesota with a shot from the top of the box. When this happened exactly is tough to say as TSN’s scoreboard graphic disappeared after half time.
the ‘Caps continued to face immense pressure as in the 68th minute Ibson rung the crossbar
The ‘Caps continued to use their substitutes sparingly and didn’t make any changes until the 72nd minute when Bernie Ibini entered the match at the expense of Freddy Montero. It doesn’t matter if he’s paired with a target man, with less then 30% possession Montero is hardly going to shine. Ibini was robbed by Bobby Shuttleworth shortly thereafter off a header. In some ways Ibini is a more fitting striker for the ‘Caps system as his physicality makes him more able to deal with the high number of long balls.
in the 86th minute Ousted made an unbelievable save of from Molino to keep the ‘Caps even. Somehow nobody else scored and the Match finished 2-2. Mission Accomplished. Sort of.
The ‘Caps will no doubt be disappointed to lose after leading 2-0 at the half. This pain of this is compounded somewhat by the loons being an expansion team. At the same time though it’s a road point, always valuable in MLS, with a number of key players missing. The ‘Caps chose to sit deep and try to counter, which seems an odd choice against a team that is known for scoring a lot but conceding even more. With the number of goals the Loons have conceded from terrible back passes (seriously the one today was hardly an isolated incident) a high press, like the one used against Atlanta seems like it might have been a better choice. But it worked for 45 minutes so what changed? were the Whitecaps just lucky in the first half? Unlucky in the second? No doubt the choice of tactics will be hotly debated amongst fans (perhaps in the comment section of this very article *wink *wink).
Two things have been made pretty clear at this point in the Season. Firstly that this team is totally lost without Christian Bolanos and desperately need someone else to be a creative influence. Techera creates a lot of chances but he’s more of a killer ball player than someone to link the play between attack and defence. Without Bolanos, the Whitecaps always struggle to keep possession, even more then they usually do, and the ensuing pressure means that they are more likely to concede. The ‘Caps concede the second most shots per game of any team in the league (behind only Minnesota) and, with a few key defensive players out, the lack of possession is killing them.
Secondly: Freddy Montero, while a quality player, does not fit the system at all. When he came off for Ibini the team looked immediately better, not because Ibini is a better player than Montero but because he’s a a fast and physical player that fits the ‘Caps smash and grab system infinity better then the diminutive Montero.
What did you think of the game? let us know!