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Post Match: Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Colorado Rapids

Another disconcerting loss as the Whitecaps fail to capitalize on a vulnerable Rapids side.

MLS: Colorado Rapids at Vancouver Whitecaps Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

First and foremost, Happy Canada day to everyone out there!

Unfortunately, that was pretty much the end of the good news today (well other than TFC losing yet again). The start of NHL free agency was a disaster if you’re a Canucks fan, LeBron James is taking his talents to the LA Lakers (ugh) and the Vancouver Whitecaps fell at home 1-0 to a brutal Colorado Rapids side. This tweet pretty much sums it up:

Even though today’s match was painful to watch, there were still plenty of talking points, so let’s dive right in.

Despite recent comments out of the Rapids organization indicating a desire to change their footballing philosophy, the Rapids intentions going into this match were abundantly clear:

Not only did Colorado start the match in a conservative 5-4-1 formation, but the Rapids “wing” players rarely ventured out of their own half, with the majority of the match being spent with 9 Rapids players in deep lying positions.

This could have made for quite an interesting strategic matchup, as generally neither of these teams value (or are very comfortable in) possession. But Colorado made it clear that they had little interest in holding the ball, leaving the onus on the Whitecaps attackers to break down the Rapids backlines and capitalize on their scoring chances (you know how this story ends).

The Whitecaps were positive in possession for most of the first half, using the wide areas to send crosses into the box and using Davies’ pace to generate chances like this:

However, things would take a turn for the worse when the Rapids finally exited their own half in the 43rd minute and Sean Franklin was spun round like a turnstile on the counter-attack. Despite a terrific save by Rowe, Henry and DeJong’s late arriving support led to an embarrassing own goal occurring completely against the run of play.

So after 40+ minutes of generally optimistic feelings about the Whitecaps’ chances in this match, most fans were left feeling much like Jay at half-time:

To make matters even worse, recent World Cup returnee Kendall Waston had to be removed at the break with a groin strain, prompting a predictably cynical (albeit justified) response.

While the run of play continued to be the same for much of the second-half, the Whitecaps lost a significant amount of sting to their attack as Davies became the only real threat to create. Perhaps the best Whitecaps chance came in the 72nd minute when Kei Kamara glanced a powerful header off the crossbar.

Even after replacing Nico Mezquida and deputized left-back Brek Shea with strikers Anthony Blondell and Eric Hurtado, the ‘Caps struggled to look truly dangerous and incisive, even with 25 shots. The last 20+ minutes were painful to watch as Davies’ desperately tried to outrun the team’s problems, but to no avail.

This match is especially frustrating in light of all the wonderful, world-class, football we have witnessed over the past three weeks or so in Russia. While MLS has taken massive strides over the past decade and is certainly trending in the right direction, matches such as this one serve as a stark reminder that there’s still a long road ahead in order to make Major League Soccer a top-tier league. I hope your World Cup predictions are doing better than mine!

As far as the Whitecaps themselves are concerned, if they fancy any chance of being contenders this season, they’re going to have to find a way to stop themselves from falling into the same familiar traps: too many chances, not enough finishing and a tendency for embarrassing defensive lapses at the worst possible moments.

Last but not least, really cowardly move by LeBron to announce his free agency decision while the whole world was clearly pre-occupied.