As Jitsuo alluded to in his Match Report yesterday, if the World Cup has been a feast for the eyes, the Vancouver Whitecaps match on Saturday away to the Philadelphia Union was a horror show, at least for those on the wrong side of the 4-0 thumping. For what it’s worth, there were performances to break down, as harrowing as they were.
Brian Rowe - 6
Arguably, the best Whitecap on the pitch. This is primarily due to the poor play in front of him, forcing him into the seven saves that kept this beatdown from turning into an outright massacre.
Maybe could have done better on the first goal from Borek Dockal, as it looked like he had a clear sightline on the shot, but credit to the Czech midfielder for bending two into the net. As for the PKs, those will always be a guessing game: Rowe went the wrong way on the second from Fafa Picault, and would have been decapitated had he stayed put for Ilsinho’s blast down the middle.
Jake Nerwinski - 4.5
It may have just been me, but it felt like the TSN broadcasters were piling on Nerwinski a little too often, calling him out by name when the ball was on his side of the pitch as an indirect result of the sloppy defending as a whole (or, the bulk of the poor play happening on the left flank, instead). Picault was definitely a handful, but Nerwinski was up to the task for the most part, and was seemingly the only defender willing to get the team down the pitch without simply resorting to long balls right down the middle.
Doneil Henry - 6
Despite having to collapse with everyone else against pretty much every attack, did well when he had the opportunity to step up and close gaps somehow left open in front of him. I say “somehow” as you’d think there shouldn’t be any gaps when the game plan is to put eight men behind the ball and turtle your opponent into submission. Nevertheless, diligent work put in on the day by Henry: ten clearances, four interceptions, two recoveries, a tackle and a blocked shot, where any miscue by the centerback would have most likely gifted Philadelphia a fifth or sixth goal.
José Aja - 3
Like Henry, did OK prior to the red card, with five clearances, four recoveries, two interceptions, and a tackle, but again this was more out of necessity due to the collapsing defense. Cleared most of what was sent his way as the back line collapsed deeper and deeper (resulting in being too late to stop Dockal’s second goal?), but his balls up field were well off target, ending most Whitecaps counters before they could begin. And on the play leading up to his dismissal, he was one of a few who fell asleep and left himself no recourse but to grab at Cory Burke to keep the striker from scoring.
With regards to the red card, I’m hoping for a little clarity. Was it awarded to Aja not because it was a DOGSO in the penalty area, but because he made no attempt to actually play the ball? Would he have avoided a sending off (and suspension) had he gone in for a tackle instead?
Brek Shea - 2.5
In reviewing the game’s stats at whoscored.com, I couldn’t help but read their Team Characteristics for each club included as part of the match preview and one aspect of the Union’s game stood out prominently, particularly after watching this match: “Attacking Down the Right.” And, boy did they.
Shea felt the brunt of Philly’s attack, and seemingly did very little about it, outside of getting mixed-up watching the interwoven runs of Dockal, Ilsinho, and Keegan Rosenberry. And yet, despite playing deep, deep, deep in his own end, how does Shea get caught upfield when the Whitecaps counter fails? Would get lost finding his way to the backline, clearing balls to no one & nowhere once he found his position. Was exemplary of the heavy legs weighing down the ‘Caps on the day.
Cristian Techera - 4.5
One of a few Whitecaps who seemed capable of breaking out down the pitch, but could never seem to find a shot, losing his touch roughly 20 yards out away from the net. Subbed at half time for Nicolás Mezquida (4.5) to, as Carl Robinson puts it, make up for the lacking energy. I sort of get it, as Mezquida certainly brought it in pressing high and nearly netting an equalizer on a give-and-go with Yordy Reyna in the 54th (were it not for the leg of Raymon Gaddis). But for me, Techera provided few of the bright spots of the first half offense. Was he the wrong played to be subbed at half time?
Aly Ghazal - 3
Lumbering and lunging. His positioning & play in the second half looked far better, as the shape of the team was better overall, but despite his 84% Passing Accuracy throughout, kept giving the ball away in dangerous areas (re: the center of the park). Was subbed for Anthony Blondell (4.5) in the 71st, right as the match was essentially decided by the two quick Union goals. Made a couple of strong runs while out on the pitch, and was arguably undeserving for a yellow, though it play was a little wreckless on Blondell’s part, after having lost his touch on the ball.
Felipe - 4.5
Forced with the unenviable task of constantly dropping with the Back Eight. Was relatively decent when being forced to defend, but could never seem to jumpstart the club with a proper breakout. As a result, had to work far harder with little to show for it. Was it due to the players/formation around him? His play looked restrained to a certain degree. Had a quiet second half by comparison, but not in a poor way. Was doing his part of building the play forward and down the pitch. Well, up until the wheels fell off, anyway.
Alphonso Davies - 3.5
Like Shea, was being victimized by the rotating Ilsinho & Dockal. Offensively, Davies was still run and gun as per usual, but was far too panicky once he had the chance to move with the ball. Doing so only added to the lack of cohesion and ambition for the Whitecaps to build anything significant out of the back end. Would either try to carry the ball forward from far too deep, or would be one of many who opted for a sloppy clearance.
On Dockal’s first goal, was Davies to blame? The broadcasters seemed to think so, but I feel it was a combination of Shea’s poor clearance and Davies possibly assuming the clearance would have been deeper, rather than being in a proper position to receive the ball.
Davies was also the second of two substitutions at half, making way for Jordon Mutch (4.5). who’s long balls were the right kind of ambitious: to the wings & corners, deep, but never off the end line. Those were the kind of balls the Whitecaps needed from the center of the pitch rather than the wing, which makes me think that Mezquida and Mutch should have come on for Reyna and Ghazal, rather than Techera and Davies, respectively.
Kei Kamara - 3.5
Good on him for having to come all the way back to help out the defense, but that may be exemplary of how collapse-y everyone had been, and how the Philly in and out overlaps were crushing everyone. But the indirect result of doing so? Was nearly invisible up the pitch. You know, where a striker calls his home.
“Come on, what the f***??!?”. That was a very audible quote, directed at Allen Chapman, by Kamara during one sequence where C.J. Sapong was all over the forward, but the sentiment sums up the Whitecaps’ night rather well: the team was left frustratingly looking for answers, but never going about finding the answers for themselves.
Yordy Reyna - 1
...unless the question begging an answer, “How petulant can you get?”. In that case, I present to you the play of Yordy Reyna. The Peruvian striker was as listless as any other Whitecap on the pitch. His passing wasn’t there, and to acknowledge this, he’d try to carry the play himself. Why run with the ball on the counter when the rest of your side is starting so deep?
The frustration Reyna has seemingly felt all season reared its head in an ugly way. The yellow card he drew for frustratingly punting the ball after a whistle was childish, though it could be argued he was mid-kick as the whistle blew (not by me: I thought it was silly). But it was clear Reyna absolutely lost the plot by throwing a shoulder into Picault with no time left in the match.
What good is it to concede a penalty in the dying moments of a match already lost, getting yourself kicked out in the process, thereby getting suspended for the next match and ensuring that the scoreline becomes even more an embarrassment? I suppose the only silver lining is that the Whitecaps won’t need him against the Colorado Rapids, a club that’s circling the drain. But, with play like this, would you even want him on the pitch at this point?