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Report Card: El Bicho to the Rescue

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Plenty of highs and lows to examine from the Whitecaps’ 3-3 draw with New England

MLS: New England Revolution at Vancouver Whitecaps Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

It was the fourth draw on the trot for the Vancouver Whitecaps, as they came back from deficits of 2-0 and 3-2 to draw the New England Revolution at home, 3-3. For anyone watching the match, it’s safe to say that Cristian Techera made an indelible mark on the match, but how did the remainder of the Whitecaps’ eleven fare?

Brian Rowe - 3.5 - Hesitant. Outside the goals allowed, had a few awkward moments on the pitch. For example: running into Ghazal on a ball played into the box, or the weird “Give & Go” with Kendall Waston just outside the penalty area that could have ended horribly. It’s as though he does not yet have the command and attention of the backline. As for the goals...

I think it would have been difficult for anyone to react quick enough to knock down Ghazal’s redirection on the own goal. For the second, he did well to tighten the angle once Cristian Penilla stripped Franklin, but does that mean maybe he should have gotten his hand to the ball?

As for the third, I rewatched it a couple times to figure out what Rowe was doing: looks like he chose to get in front of the cross and ended up not seeing Teal Bunbury running down the middle, falling to his right rather than ultimately in front of the open shot. Peripheral awareness will always be tricky, particularly when there’s so much activity in front of the goal, so it kind of makes sense as he’s staring down the ball as it’s moving from left to right, and ends up falling away from the shot.

Nevertheless, allowing three is never a good look.

Sean Franklin - 3 - Overconfident. The first half was a quiet one from him, though he was strong on the ball and in the air when he needed to be, and that overlapping Give & Go with Techera in the 45th minute was superb. However, opting for the heavy touch rather than a pass back, and a straight up outhustling by Penilla, on the second Revolution goal was just fugly. The read on Diego Fagundez’s through-ball was wise; everything that came immediately afterwards was worrisome.

Aly Ghazal - 2 - Star-crossed. I’m using that phrase a little tentatively, as it does assume that some semblance of bad luck was afoot, on a day when he’s forced to play out of position, no less. So one could argue that the attempted block that became an own goal was performed in a manner not normally attempted by a center back. Or when he was trying to move upfield with the play before being stripped, leaving him to slowly get back in position as his mark, Bunbury, buries a go-ahead goal.

And yet, those things happened, so accountability is a must. Plus, a whiffed clearance towards the end, and a possibly PK-worthy shove in added time, made for a little cringe-y climax to the match.

Statistically, his defense was decent: five recoveries, four tackles, four clearances, three interceptions, and two blocked shots. Pretty decent looking; but when you only hit 68% accuracy on 19 total passes, the stat argument is going to fail you, as well.

Kendall Waston - 6.5 - Authority. In comparison to Ghazal, the captain nearly hit 88% on his 33 passes out of the back, and had a generally strong game overall. His seven clearances were the most of anyone on the pitch, as were his six Aerials Won. He was a boss in the air, and had time to bail out his teammates (Davies at 19’ & Ghazal at 92’, for example) on a few occasions.

Marcel de Jong - 6.5 - Stout. In contrast to Waston, de Jong was having some early issues in contesting balls played in the air to Brandon Bye. However, as the match progressed the left back was getting stuck in, staying strong on balls he needed to win on the ground, particularly when he stood up Bye in the 15th minute. His crosses were meh, until his beauty to find Techera on the back post for Vancouver’s opening goal. It was a shame to seem him subbed (to a hamstring injury) so soon afterwards, but Brek Shea (5) filled in decently enough in thirty-seven minutes of service.

Cristian Techera - 10 - Electric. Well, it should be 11; I have permission:

But it wasn’t just the three goals. Everything seemed to click for him on the evening. He was winning balls, relentlessly hounding Gabriel Somi and Claude Dielna, and making spot on passes. Truly, if it wasn’t for the post on Felipe’s header, and Kamara hadn’t recently enrolled in the “Brek Shea School of Finishing”, Techera would have had his hand in five goals. Six, really, if this cheeky chip had found its way in:

And for the statistically inclined, he scored a 1636 for the match on the Audi Index Report. I have a feeling that’s the highest total so far this season, and I’ll see if I can find a better result.

Either way, El Bicho estaba en fuego.

Felipe - 7.5 - Steady. Made smart runs and smart balls throughout, and only seemed to lose balls in not-so-dangerous locations. If you’re going to get stripped and concede a corner, always for the best when it happens deep in the opposition’s half. Maybe could have led Ghazal with a better pass before a resulting turnover turned into the third goal. Otherwise, a decent performance overall, with 6 Key Passes tallied (most on the night), and he even nearly netted himself a game willing goal!

Russell Teibert - 6.5 - Calm. Like Felipe, usually opted for the safe pass rather than overreach on a less-than-likely suicide ball. And he’s consistent, too: per whoscored.com, Teibert presently has the 11th best passing percentage in the MLS for this season:

Plus, he played his usual, doggedly determine brand of defense. Made way for Efrain Juarez (5.5) in the 69th minute, who didn’t make too tremendous of an impact during his twenty-one minutes on the pitch. Though there was definitely an uptick in possession for the Whitecaps once he entered the fray, and that backheel, or whatever it was, in the 77th minute was pretty dang clever.

Alphonso Davies - 6.5 - Audacious. Occasionally made a pass that would never work, or held the ball longer than reasonably necessary, but in doing so would often create those dynamic, “How Did He Do That???” moments. His movement up the pitch was definitely ambitious and enthused, particularly on the dribble he made in the 61st minute, carrying the ball 20 yards in to the box before finding Kamara with a pass. Subbed for Anthony Blondell (Inc.) in the 78th minute, who didn’t quite make the late impact needed, save for the foul he drew along the right flank in injury time.

Kei Kamara - 3 - Loud. I mean that more figuratively than literally, as in how his play stood out for the wrong reasons. I have no idea how he didn’t bury in the first minute, and he probably could have done better on the Davies ball in the 61st. However, he does get props for the defensive assists made during the numerous New England corner kicks throughout the match, finishing with four clearances.

But... we need him to score! That sitter in the first half was begging, and could very well haunt the team at the end of the season when points are sparse (though, with the number of draws recently, that could be said about any one moment, so never mind).

Yordy Reyna - 6 - Coarse. He’s had moments that appear to have him rounding into his 2017 form, but I’d almost argue that an inner turmoil is biting at him. I mean, he definitely did not deserve his yellow card, in blocking an attempted Andrew Farrell clearance. First blush looked like a studs-in tackle on Farrell, however, and he carried himself far too petulantly after being given his yellow. He very easily could have had himself sent off for a foul on Bye in the 24th minute, but was lucky to be let off the hook.

Nevertheless, Reyna calmed himself and got back to making smart, simple passes, particularly on the cross that found Techera for his third. Just one-timed it on the trot (after receiving a great long ball from Felipe, no less) to the open space in front of Techera, who no-doubted it for his third and final equalizer.