Vancouver remembered how to play football on Friday, besting Real Salt Lake at BC Place 2-0. Our marks are a bit better than in recent weeks but how much better? Read on to find out:
Stefan Marinovic: 7
Real didn’t have a ton of clear cut chances, with many of their shots coming from distance. The ones they did have on goal were easily collected by Marinovic, who picked up a clean sheet after a rough patch. Exactly the kind of performance the Kiwi needed to regain some confidence going forward.
Sean Franklin: 7
I was quite impressed with Franklin, one of the biggest changes in Robbo’s gameplan following the past couple embarrassing displays. The MLS veteran has been a bit of an afterthought since preseason but he looked more than competent in the back line on Friday, as I can’t remember one instance in which he got burned. He also added a bit of unexpected creativity, setting up one of the better chances of the first half. Overall a needed upgrade over Jake Nerwinski’s out of form recent performances.
Kendall Waston: 5
A capable performance for most of the match, Waston helped shut down most of Real’s better chances going forward (despite the Caps conceding over 70 percent of possession, per usual). Unfortunately, he got in a totally avoidable tussle with Joao Plata in injury time, causing another yellow card that brings his tally even closer to the 5 booking mark which earns him a suspension. After a year of much improved discipline, Waston appears to be slipping despite looking strong in other facets.
Jose Aja: 6.5
This was probably the most comfortable Aja has looked starting thus far and it provided some real hope that he can adequately serve as Tim Parker’s replacement. Despite having some fatal (or near calamitous) mistakes in the most recent matches, Aja looked steady on the ball
Brett Levis: 6
I was a bit nervous about Levis when I saw he was named in the teamsheet but at this point a change of pace is probably needed to replace Marcel de Jong. Levis proved that he could be that man, hanging all night with Real’s dangerous Jefferson Savarino. His crossing was not up to what de Jong can offer and he struggled to link up as well offensively on the left side. Overall, it was a decent (if unspectacular) performance from the Saskatchewan-native.
Aly Ghazal: 6.5
I was pleased to see his return because Efrain Juarez was simply not getting it done in the center of the park and Ghazal brought a good physical presence to the lineup. Nearly bagged a goal of his own in the second half with a nice volley from distance that rose just above the crossbar.
Russell Teibert: 6.5
Was consistently impressed with Teibert’s effort in closing down shots, making tackles and doing the dirty work in the midfield that Yordy Reyna and Efrain Juarez have not seemed willing to do thus far this season. His passing was solid but didn’t create any real clear cut chances, yet it was a strong showing from the Canadian.
Cristian Techera: 0
Any good that Techera created during the game went out the window once he went full Eric Hassli and earned a sending off for taking off his jersey following his (admittedly cooly taken) penalty finish. For a player who has spent multiple seasons in Vancouver and should be a leader on this team it was a move that exemplified every fear Whitecaps’ supporters have about this team: selfish, undisciplined and not ready to compete with the elite teams in MLS.
Jordon Mutch: 6.5
It is baffling to me why Carl Robinson insisted on playing Mutch as a de facto number 10, a role he never played in England. His long passes looked good and he sought out Blondell on a couple occasions on nice passes. Unfortunately his night ended early when he appeared to re-aggravate his hamstring injury in the 56th minute and had to be replaced. Hopefully he heals quickly because I feel better about the midfield when he and Ghazal are playing.
Brek Shea: 6
It was not a spectacular night from Shea, as he scuffed a couple chances that a more accomplished finisher of the ball would have polished off (although it was also bad luck to hit off both posts, as he did in his half volley midway through the second 45). But he linked up well and his instincts appear to be a lot better than they were last season. Overall a decent shift from Shea and he made a case to stay in the starting XI going forward.
Anthony Blondell: 8
I’m not going to touch the whole celebration-gate or tap-in gate that Blondell instigated late in the game (frankly it seems blown out of proportion but anyway…). But I will say that Blondell was probably the Caps’ most lively offensive player prior to Alphonso Davies’ arrival. I’m hopeful that this was the Venezuelan’s coming out party. It seems he just needs to get a bit more comfortable in MLS (he could have had a goal in the first half but for Justen Glad closing down), at which point he will be a significant improvement on the qualities Erik Hurtado offers the attack. It would be helpful however, if Blondell cures his unfortunate penchant for offsides first.
Nicolas Mezquida: 7
Thought Mezquida offered a lot, engaging in some nice give-and-goes on the left side and his passing looked much improved. It was his pressing skill and energy that won the Caps the decisive penalty, forcing Nick Besler into a tackle that denied Mezquida an easy shot on goal. Far better as a substitute in this role than as a started, Nico put in a nice performance in replacing the injured Mutch.
Alphonso Davies: 9
Davies earns high marks as the MOTM, despite playing for only 30 minutes after replacing Levis midway through the second half. Fortunately Robbo elected to deploy the teenager as a winger rather than a fullback and the match changed nearly instantly, as the attack finally had a much needed energy. His assist to Blondell was divine and no one would’ve faulted Davies for feeling hard done for not getting credit for the goal himself. Davies helped target a slower Real backline (see: owning Brooks Lennon on the build-up to Blondell’s goal) that the Caps had been unable to exploit all match and helped the home side secure all three points.
Bernie Ibini: N/A
Ibini spelled Blondell in the 86th minute, too late to earn a rating.