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Report Card: Canadian Championship Final (2nd Leg)

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Recapping another disheartening Canadian Championship loss.

MLS: Canadian Championship-Vancouver Whitecaps FC vs Toronto FC Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

It was a rough Wednesday night for the Vancouver Whitecaps as they were thoroughly dismantled by Toronto FC in the second leg of the Canadian Championship 5-2 (7-4 on aggregate).

In the aftermath of the loss, many VWFC commentators have cited the vast difference in payroll between the two clubs and the need for coaching and/or front office changes within the Whitecaps organization. While I don’t wish to disparage such discussion, these are problems which span far beyond the realm of a singular Canadian Championship match - and so I have focused my commentary on this match specifically and not the greater issues at hand for the Whitecaps organization.

As far as Wednesday’s match is concerned, it was poor defending (both from a tactical and individual perspective) which really did the Whitecaps in. Let’s take a look at the individual performances:

Starting XI

Stefan Marinovic: The New Zealander made eight saves including a few sharp stops in the second half. Unfortunately, the Whitecaps defending was completely shambolic on the night, for 4 of the 5 goals there was very little Marinovic could do about it. There could perhaps be some question on the first TFC goal as Altidore slid it through Marinovic’s legs, but this is the kind of save that you would hope your keeper could make and not necessarily one you expect. 6.5

Marcel de Jong: Strictly statistically speaking, De Jong performed the best of the Whitecaps defenders. He was tied for a team-high 3 tackles, won 6 out of his 10 duels and also registered two key passes. However, this is not the full story. As pointed out on the TSN broadcast at halftime, TFC began to have greater success going forward when they overloaded down De Jong’s right wing side of the pitch. In addition to not being a terribly gifted defender, because De Jong is so eager to get forward, he is often caught reeling on the counter attack. De Jong’s defensive deficiencies were exposed not only in a tactical sense but also on the first 2 TFC goals. 2.5

Doneil Henry: It would’ve been wonderful poetic justice had Henry been able to return for the second leg and put in a worldly performance, securing the Whitecaps the Championship and erasing any memory of his last minute own goal and subsequent wall-punching wrist injury. Instead, Henry continued his recent trend of only making things worse. I have to say, I really feel for the guy.

Henry completed 85% of his passes and won 5 of his 10 duels, but looked lost for most of the night out on the pitch, constantly either finding himself a step late to intervene or overcommitting and opening up attacking lanes for the Reds. 2.0

Kendall Waston: Waston won only 2 of his 4 duels on the evening and did not register a tackle. These stats are telling. For a player who is supposed to be the vocal and emotional leader of the team, his performance was far too passive. On Altidore’s second and third goals the TFC star player was left pretty much completely unmarked in the box. Looking back on these goals I’m not exactly sure what the Whitecaps defensive strategy was - they appear to have been man marking Altidore with Ghazal (a battle he is never going to win) while zonally marking with Henry and Waston. Whatever the plan was, you would think that Waston would be eager for the challenge of shutting down a physical striker like Altidore, but it certainly didn’t look like it out on the pitch. 1.0

Jakob Nerwinski: Jake registered 3 tackles and completed 82% of his passes while winning 4 of his 7 duels last night. Much like the rest of the Caps backline, Nerwinski was confused and exposed at several key moments. He overcommitted on the second TFC goal seeing that Henry was already reeling in recovery, and on the third TFC goal I have no idea why De Jong and Nerwinski are defending the same side of the pitch, with Nerwinski and the two CB’s marking absolutely no one. 2.0

Aly Ghazal: Ghazal was the Whitecaps most efficient midfield distributor completing 32 passes at a rate of 94%. While he was certainly not blameless defensively, he was left in a difficult matchup on his own against Altidore on several occasions, something which should never have happened. 4.0

Russell Teibert: The Canadian completed a team-high 43 passes on the evening and provided good defensive pressure from midfield throughout the night, continuing to battle even after the match had long been decided. My only critique would be that while he’s ultra-aggressive defending in midfield, he looks a little tentative at times in and around his own box. This was particularly noticeable on the first TFC goal where had Rusty been a bit more decisive defensively, he may have been able to break up the chance before it even began. 5.0

Alphonso Davies: Other than one decent shot off-target, it was a difficult night for Davies. It was clear that TFC had game-planned to contain the young star, often double or triple teaming him when he got on the ball and this was reflective in his stats. He was dispossessed a team-high 3 times and failed to complete a successful dribble. 4.0

Cristian Techera: Techera found himself largely uninvolved in his 51 minutes of action, completing only 9 passes although he did win 3 of his 4 duels. Techera could have perhaps contributed more defensively as De Jong struggled to defend down his wing throughout much of the first half. 4.0

Yordy Reyna: The Peruvian was perhaps the liveliest of the Caps to play a full 90 minutes. He made several good attacking runs and had 3 shots although none of them found the target. Reyna also made 2 key passes, contributing to a large amount of the Whitecaps positive attacking play. 6.0

Kei Kamara: Kamara scored in the 63rd, capitalizing on some overcommitted TFC defenders and giving the Caps a semblance of hope in the match. Although he won only 2 of his 10 duels, he was often left isolated up top and his work-rate to retain possession and create chances was admirable as per usual. 6.5

Substitutes

Nicolás Mezquida: Mezquida made a nice pass into space to assist on Kamara’s goal and was an improvement on Techera in-so-far as getting himself involved in the match. He completed 13 passes, took one shot which was blocked, had one pass interception and drew a foul. In a match that had already gone terribly wrong by the time he appeared, it was a good shift from Mezquida. 7.0

Brek Shea: Shea replaced Davies in the 51st minute and was enigmatic as always. His work-rate still leaves a lot to be desired at times but he looked especially dangerous over the last 15 minutes of the match, scoring once and nearly combining with Hurtado on several other occasions. 7.0

Erik Hurtado: E-Money has been on quite the run of form recently. Hurtado replaced Kei Kamara in the 63rd minute and had a noticeable impact. In the 77th minute, he was able to wriggle past Ashton Morgan down the flank and play a incisive pass towards Shea, leading to the second Whitecaps goal. Hurtado also had several other dangerous runs and chances, often combining with Shea, in the waning moments of the match. 7.0

As always, let me know your thoughts in the comments!