The Vancouver Whitecaps began the next leg of their preseason Saturday night, in Las Vegas against the new USL expansion club Lights FC. Prior to the match, Las Vegas Lights put out their starting lineup. Being used to the mess the Whitecaps give us, it was thought that the proposed 3-4-3 lineup couldn’t be correct. Turns out, it was.
Of course, in traditional Whitecaps fashion, we had no idea what they were doing.
Here we go - tonight's #VWFC XI:— Vancouver Whitecaps (@WhitecapsFC) February 18, 2018
15.Sean Franklin (training camp invitee)
17.Marcel de Jong
The 3-4-3 formation deployed by Las Vegas seemed like a death wish, however, the narrow pitch (think Yankee Stadium and NYCFC only narrower), the diamond midfield and no overlapping wingbacks made a bit more sense. In fact, at times early in the match, it appeared the Caps were even playing with three in the back (Waston, Parker, and De Jong)...maybe because there was not enough space on the field to string four across.
Any breakdown by the Las Vegas midfield meant an opportunity for the Caps, which Cristian Techera first took advantage of, showing patience out-waiting the defense to chip it past the keeper.
Patience was certainly the theme in the first half, as Davies quickly made it 2-0 on an end-to-end run, and the patient composure to slot it past the massively out-of-position keeper, with a Lights defender on his shoulder.
Fonzie’s goal even got Waston’s ‘slap of approval’!
After falling behind early, Las Vegas seemed to settle down and went into the halftime break strong and only down 2-0.
Unlike the matches in Hawaii, with the Caps playing a split-squad game, we did not see any changes at the half.
Davies continued his dominance over the Las Vegas defense in the second half, with blistering runs through half the squad. However, it is worth noting that he needs to learn when to make that final pass instead of dribbling. Doing that, it could have easily been 3-0.
Alphonso Davies is just out there having fun and destroying #LightsFC defenders. This time he nutmegs the first defender, dances around another, and blows past the rest of them. #VWFC #WhitecapsFC #LVvVAN #MLS pic.twitter.com/YwFUPjx0GB— Jason Foster (@JogaBonito_USA) February 18, 2018
The match quickly headed up though at around the 60th minute, when Davies received an elbow to the face, and Lights defender Marcelo Alatorre received a red card. The fun did not end there though, as things spilled over to the bench and saw the ejection of Whitecaps assistant coach Martyn Pert (hasn’t he been ejected several times now) and LV manager El Chelis (yes, he is back!). Don’t worry though,
CHELIS IS BACK!!! Classic by Chelís, getting in the face of Carl Robinson and #VWFC coaches after a #LightsFC player was sent off for an elbow on Alphonso Davies. Match nights in #Vegas will be special (with a lot of fights too). #LVvVAN #USL #MLS pic.twitter.com/fRNznY8ymK— Jason Foster (@JogaBonito_USA) February 18, 2018
The ejection seemed to fire up Las Vegas, leading to their first ever goal in franchise history in the 66th minute. It was a lovely free-kick, although the Caps did seem to be a bit disorganized leading up to the set-piece.
Two minutes later, Las Vegas was awarded a penalty kick for.....something, which they converted to square the match at 2-2. Of course, El Chelis was in the stands enjoying a smoke and the comeback.
Regardless to how it happens, a club never wants to be leading 2-0 and up a man, only to see the opponent come back to tie the match; even in the preseason.
Whether lucky or good -you have to be good to be lucky right!-, the Caps were able to salvage the match, thanks to a handball in the box from Las Vegas. Kei Kamara was able to convert the penalty kick in the 75th minute, sealing Vancouver 3-2 victory.
It was an interesting match, with plenty of positives and also some negatives. What were your takes on the match?
Andrew Bahl will be going over the individual player performances tomorrow, while we prepare for the Caps second match this weekend, in the afternoon, against another expansion club, LAFC. Make sure to follow our live coverage of that match on Twitter, and read our post match analysis and report card. Also, TDahl will have a scouting report on LAFC up shortly, so make sure to give that a read prior to the match tomorrow at 4:00pm.