The match started in a fairly shocking fashion. Not because of the 11 men the ‘Caps chose to field but because of the way they played. They were pressing Montreal’s backline and actually keeping the ball. The ‘Caps finished the game on 49.6% possession but that’s a little deceptive as if you look at the possession by intervals you’ll see that the ‘Caps pretty much ran the show until they went up 2-0. Kei Kamara and Alphonso Davies in particular created a couple of decent chances off the press, including a golden opportunity when Kamara stripped Samuel Piette of the ball but shot right at Impact keeper Evan Bush.
After it looked as though the ‘Caps were going to blow the Impact out of the water in the first 15 minutes the match settled down a bit. The ‘Caps still had the majority of the ball but they struggled to break down Montreal’s low block. The half drew to a close with the score tied 0-0 and on Twitter the murmurs of discontent were already starting. Fans were complaining it was an underwhelming game and MLS writers were complaining that Davies was staying to wide and should cut into the middle more (psst, this is foreshadowing). For my own part I tweeted this (P.S follow me on twitter so I can feel cool).
The Whitecaps have dominated the game so far but have struggled to beat the low block. This has been a problem in the past as well. The second half will show us if this team has truly changed or if it's just the same thing with different names. #VWFC— Caleb Wilkins (@wilkins_caleb24) March 5, 2018
Well as if they’d been reading the various negative tweets and had set out to prove them wrong the ‘Caps got two goals, one from Davies putting in a cross from out wide and one from a quick passing play.
In the 63rd minute, after a spell where Montreal looked to be coming back into the game, Russel Teibert collected the ball in the centre of the park and spread the ball out wide to Davies. Michael Petrasso, who had gotten torched a couple of times by Davies in the first half, didn’t get tight to Davies, perhaps out of fear of getting beaten for pace again, allowing Davies the time to get his head up and put in a cross for Kei Kamara to acrobatically head past a helpless Evan Bush.
In the 70th minute Jake Nerwinski won the ball back from Nacho Piatti and played the ball upfield to Efrain Juarez who in turn took Brought the ball forward and played it over the top to a streaking Cristian Techera. Techera brought the ball down, ran into space and cut it across goal for Alphonso Davies to (just barley) put home his first career MLS goal.
Ten minutes later however Montreal pulled one back. Former Whitecaps trialist Daniel Lovitz cut the balli inside on to his right foot and it a back post cross which Matteo Mancosu rose above Aaron Maund to head home.
Fortunately the ‘Caps managed to hold on for a 2-1 win. Now, on to some analysis.
As I alluded to earlier the ‘Caps actually kept the ball pretty well this game. I’m not sure if that’s a sign of things to come but I must say I enjoyed it quite a lot. Russel Teibert was key to the way they played (he’s a good player, fight me) as he came deep to get the ball and then distribute it (he had 92% passing accuracy on the night). However, I think that the team still needs to play with a bit more tempo if they are going to play this way successfully. To often Teibert would come deep to get the ball, make an outlet pass to one of De Jong, Nerwinski, Juarez, or Reyna, only for that player to hesitate and take an extra tough and allow Montreal to get back into their defensive shape. I think Felipe and Mutch may help with this when they get brought in. Then again, Juarez did play an excellent ball on the second goal so maybe it’s just a matter of time and chemistry.
Defensively the Whitecaps weren’t really tested all that much and on one of the few occasions they were they conceded a goal. Nerwinski didn’t get tight enough to Lovitz and Maund did poorly at the back post. In his three MLS starts Maund has been outlept for a goal against twice. At the same time though Maund made a couple of tackles that i’d say stopped a goal and played a couple of nice passes out of the back so he wasn’t hopeless by any means. I’m still a little concerned about the backline but now they have a week to potentially work in Aja or continue to develop chemistry between Maund and Waston.
What were your thoughts on the game? Be sure to let us know