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Choose Your Own Adventure: Evaluating 9-Man, 6-0 Defeat at Kansas City

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The Vancouver Whitecaps traveled to Kansas City, to take on Sporting. It wasn’t pretty. We (attempt to) take a look at the individual performances of Caps players

MLS: Vancouver Whitecaps at Sporting KC Peter G. Aiken

Well, that was quite the adventure wasn’t it! I am sure you all predicted a 6-0 defeat, with the Vancouver Whitecaps receiving two red cards yes? Given the debacle that was this match, it is challenging to produce an accurate Report Card (hence the title Choose Your Own Adventure. It was suggested on Twitter that maybe I just give everyone a ‘0’, but I think we can be more nuanced than that. I will focus primarily on the time before the two red cards (which includes the first three goals), and less on the time after. As has been routine of late, we will use the entire ten-point scale.

Stefan Marinovic (2): I was tempted to give him a zero, but I will give him a two because of the penalty save (even if it didn’t matter anymore) and a few nice saves later in the match. However, he was dreadful in the first half and looked massively out-of-position several times. I have been an advocate of Marinovic thus far, and feel that the Caps did not lose anything with him replacing David Ousted; however, there have been a few moments this year where I have thought “yikes! It would be nice to have Ousted in there instead”.

Jose Aja (3): It wasn’t pretty, and I have been quite critical of Aja the last few matches. I have found that he has looked lost at times and been a pylon too often. It was hard to evaluate him in this match, but the ‘3’ is because I don’t feel he was the worst player on the defensive line...that is the only positive I can say.

Kendall Waston (3): I was going to write that it was Waston’s tackle that led to the pivotal moment in the match, however, that is not true. The match was already over when Waston picked up his yellow card. It was just that was the moment that the match went from bad to embarrassing. How much of that do you want to put at the feet of Waston? Personally, I don’t put that much in it.

Marcel de Jong (1): I get that the Whitecaps do not have a lot of depth at CB. But, if you are going to play 3CBs, where the centerbacks need to be on the same page and defensively sound, QUIT PUTTING AN OFFENSIVE FULLBACK AT CENTER BACK!!! There is a reason why de Jong was often deployed as a wingback or left winger last season. He is great going forward, but is weak in defense. We saw his inability to track back and assist Christian Dean in the Snow Bowl and we have seen him get beat numerous times playing left back. I have no idea why Carl would think that putting de Jong as part of a back three would be a good idea. For all the so-so comments around Aaron Maund, at least he is a center back and can be somewhat relied upon to be at least average. Of course, I would prefer Henry there, but wow, Carl Robinson really left the club out to dry. The defense looked confused and disjointed. Was this all on de Jong? Certainly not. However, he was liable in a few instances and he did commit the foul that led to the penalty kick.

Efrain Juarez (-1): For all the complaints about Juarez this season, I felt he has been alright. In this match, we got to see him at his ‘natural’ position of right back (or right wingback). YIKES! If you were not a fan of Juarez in the midfield, you were certainly not a fan of him at right back. He had an awful match which culminated with a sending off. ‘-1’ might be generous!

Alphonso Davies (5): We have been mandated by Soccer Canada to give Davies at least a passing grade in each match he plays. This has been confirmed by Vancouver Whitecaps management, to help drive up the transfer fee. Davies didn’t have a poor match, but in the type of match it ended up being, it is hard to have a good match. Once again, Davies was deployed somewhat defensively. While some may argue that he was a wingback and thus not truly defensive, watch the first 20 minutes of the match. He (and Juarez) were often in-line with the three center backs. Yes, that is how a 3-CB defensive works, but he did not seem to be getting extensively forward either. I suspect that if the match continued at 11v11 and the Caps were not down early, it would have been more obvious how deep he was playing...or maybe I am/would be wrong.

Aly Ghazal (5): I feel it is difficult to judge Ghazal in this one. He was over-run in the midfield, which makes it challenging to be effective. The entire defense looked lost and confused and that led to them constantly being one-step behind. Some blamed Ghazal for the second (?) goal, but I did not see it the same way. His job was to catch the late runner. He had his man. Some might disagree, stating that was actually Felipe’s man and Ghazal should have been back. Maybe, but Ghazal was actually marking someone, meaning he might have ‘called’ a player to mark, while Felipe was in no-man’s land.

Felipe Martins (4): I hope that you were excited about this match, heading in, as I was. It certainly did not turn out the way any of us wanted. As a result, I think Carl goes back to his boring style, pointing to this as evidence that the attacking style doesn’t work. Meh! Felipe had an alright game, but was neutralized pretty quickly. Going down early, and often, meant that he was no longer useful.

Brek Shea (5): Over the past few matches, Shea has been one of the few bright spots. He did not really get an opportunity to shine in his second start of the season, however, he did not look bad either.

Yordy Reyna (3): I was excited to see Reyna and Blondell play together in this match, as they looked to have great chemistry in the preseason. Sure enough, that chemistry was on display early, as the two were linking up wonderfully. I struggled with what grade to give Reyna for this. I felt that he had his moments, but his miss (Meila’s save) was the real turning point in the match. Put that past the Sporting Kansas City keeper and I think we have a completely different match. Watching replays, it appears like Reyna almost kicked it right at Meila. Yes, it was a good save, but Reyna could have certainly done better! Then, he received a red card, which I felt was very questionable. Yes, he ‘threw’ Russell to the ground, but...

I would be curious to see how you grade Reyna’s performance in this one.

Anthony Blondell (7): I save the best for last. Honestly, I would be okay with an even higher grade. I was frustrated by Carl Robinson’s comment that Blondell was ‘raw’ as I felt it was devaluing his abilities. While I trust, to some degree, Robinson’s assessment of defensive players, I have little to no confidence in his assessment of offensive players. To me, Robinson’s comment of raw simply means that Blondell is not passive and defensively focused! I am certainly ignorant in many ways and Robinson is a far better coach (duh!) than me, but let the boy play! Robinson seems to neuter any offensive player that comes to the club. Mezquida had potential when he arrived, Montero was a proven player, Reyna looked dynamic at first, etc., etc. In each case, the longer a player has stayed under Robbo’s tutelage, the weaker their offensive abilities appear to be. I would love to see more Blondell and believe he could be a great player for this club. Unfortunately, Blondell has started two matches this season and in both matches, the Caps have received a red card early, effectively neutralizing Blondell.

What were your thoughts on Blondell?

Usually we would discuss the substitutes, but in this match, I feel that is a pointless activity. Sometimes we grade Robinson, but I honestly do not know how to grade him in this match. The players are at fault for a poor performance, but the tactics and the player’s looked lost in their formation points to the coach. In the end, I am not sure what to do. I will leave that decision to you.