In a match that never felt quite beyond their control, yet had moments of self-inflicted unsteadiness, the Whitecaps ended their four-game home stand with a 2-1 defeat of the cellar dwelling Colorado Rapids.
Though the ‘Caps had a majority of the quality chances, it sometimes felt as though the team were just as likely to give the ball away as they were to make a beautiful, eye-of-the-needle throughball, which carries its own problems when it doesn’t work.
Nevertheless, the Whitecaps were ultimately successful in closing out the last-place Rapids before heading on the road for their next three matches.
David Ousted - C+
3 saves and 7 recoveries throughout a match where Ousted didn’t have that much to do, particularly in the lead up to Dominique Badji poaching a goal. He possibly could have reacted better, but I don’t see that as an easy thing to do when you’re waiting for the ball to be cleared from in front of you. Definitely made up for it in 67th minute when he pushed Michael Azira’s shot over the net while falling the wrong way:
67' this just in ➡️ @David_Ousted can deflect bullets— Vancouver Whitecaps (@WhitecapsFC) September 24, 2017
2-1#VANvCOL | #VWFC pic.twitter.com/rrCQlc9nOB
Marcel de Jong/Jake Nerwinski- C-/C-
Defensively, both played well. On the night, de Jong led with 5 interceptions, meaning he was doing well to close down passing lanes, block through balls, and also made a great slide tackle on the end line in the 57th minute to stop an attack. Nerwinski timed his runs up the pitch well while getting back defensively if they didn’t work.
But for negatives? How about de Jong’s passing? Screams of “Spray and Pray”:
Aside from the one long ball in the 26th minute to Fredy Montero (who somehow got off a shot, one that was saved easily mind you, while being closed down by Axel Sjoberg), this was just a mess of long balls that weren’t working.
However, it’s not as though he couldn’t create when he kept the ball for himself:
Comparatively, Nerwinski’s passing was often simpler, and clever when it worked. But when it didn’t? There was too many times where he’d force a bad pass in his own end. That can’t be where you lose a ball, particularly when you’re the one giving it away.
Tim Parker/Andrew Jacobson - D/C+
Parker’s defense was OK throughout, but the whole evening could have been a waste after that oddly chested ball that led to Badji’s goal:
Did he have time to react to the ball when Hairston dummied it? Maybe not, but once the crossed ball struck him, you’d think Parker would react far quicker to clear it when he knows full well he has a striker on his back. The whole play looked way to nonchalant.
For what it’s worth, his passing chart looked an awful lot like de Jong’s: almost entirely in the red.
Finally, please, correct me if I’m wrong, but was Parker’s yellow card the result of his missed header/ball redirection with his arm? If so, taking a card on the attack, in the offensive end, is a really bad time to do so, particularly for a defender who may be forced into making a counterattack-ending tackle at some point.
By comparison, it felt like Andrew Jacobson wasn’t even there, which is perfectly fine for a centerback. He essentially was on clean up duty, stepping up if play had gotten through or around his defensive mids and wing backs.
Aly Ghazal/Tony Tchani - C+/B-
Since his initial inclusion in the lineup, Ghazal continues to be strong on the ball and smart in his decision making, and Saturday’s match felt no different. In the 30th minute, for example, Ghazal chested down a ball while positioning himself to quickly turn inward on a Rapids, to both box out the attacker and deliver a cross-field pass to a wide open Jacobson.
He ultimately was not a game-changer on the night, but his decision making, positioning, and overall defensive performance (one block, one interception, two tackles, three clearances, and ten recoveries) made for a strong performance.
Like Ghazal, Tchani’s decision making throughout was sensible: good turns with the ball, smart layoffs rather than dribbling into traffic. His distribution wasn’t without its flaws, but overall he was one of the better passers on the pitch.
And if anyone has a clip of the perfectly placed, 54-yard pass he made to Brek Shea with the outside of his foot in the 66th minute, I’d love to see it again.
Cristian Techera/Brek Shea - C/D+
Most of Techera’s dead balls were well taken on the night, except for that garbage, “never in” corner kick in the 53rd minute. The team has two corners all night, and you’re going to kick this straight out of bounds??
In any event, he did make a nice cutback on Mekeil Williams, only to shoot just wide in 60th minute, though ultimately he felt somewhat anonymous throughout. I suppose that’s what happens when you have Sjoberg playing Goliath to your David:
34' squashing bugs, also not allowed.— Vancouver Whitecaps (@WhitecapsFC) September 24, 2017
1-0#VANvCOL | #VWFC pic.twitter.com/gl9l9aVKWC
I felt that Shea spent the night putting in a hard day’s work, but his decision making with the ball was often far too ambitious. He played very well defensively in pressing high and disrupting Colorado’s back four, but it was often overshadowing by forcing passes that didn’t need to be made.
For example, if he were to make a long run back to create great defensive support, he’d follow it up with a poor back heel to no one, in his own end of the pitch. The combination of his poor passing performance with de Jong’s made for a bit of a horror show on the left flank.
Yordy Reyna/Fredy Montero - A-/A+
When on the pitch with one another, these two are looking to be as dynamic as they come.
The game had barely started before Reyna was able to place a cross perfectly, up, around, and over the 6’7” Sjoberg, onto the head of Montero, who could have sleepwalked the ball into the net for the opening goal:
Well that didn't take long. @yordy_10 ➡️ @_fredymontero ➡️ Back of Net https://t.co/PkRlmGod0S— Vancouver Whitecaps (@WhitecapsFC) September 24, 2017
The finish still had to be there, but it’s always nice for a striker when the cross does a lot of the work for you. But what’s even nice is being able to return the favor at some point:
deja vu but in reverse @_fredymontero ➡️ @yordy_10 ➡️ Back of Net https://t.co/deEz9N3Ir2— Vancouver Whitecaps (@WhitecapsFC) September 24, 2017
It was quite the play to watch live as it unfolded: Montero, who’s being penned in by Jared Watts and Kortne Ford, lofts a ball well ahead of the sprinting Reyna, who slips in behind Sjoberg to bury past Howard for the winner.
Aside from the goals, Reyna and Montero both looked strong. Reyna made a miscue or two when advancing the play forward, but overall did well when the attack was moving through his feet. Montero, meanwhile, did his usual thing of having to win long balls despite not being a true target man, yet made the most out of any opportunity he could. He even came sprinting back to the Whitecaps’ penalty area to stop a Rapids attack in the 48th minute.
In my opinion, he had a thoroughly fantastic match, one that overshadowed the team’s helter-skelter passing throughout.