That loud thud you might have heard was likely the ‘Caps falling on their face in another ‘must-win game’ yesterday afternoon at BC Place. A disappointing 2-1 loss at the hands of FC Dallas that all but ensures that the Vancouver Whitecaps will not make the playoffs this year.
It’s not impossible still, but yesterday’s result, and another loss at the hands of a team that the Vancouver Whitecaps were trailing in the Western Conference really just further underlined the shortcomings of this team through 2018.
Carl Robinson went with what many feel is the best lineup, or at least close to his the best lineup that he has at his disposal. Brett Levis continued to start at left back, while Doneil Henry paired Kendall Waston in the heart of defense. Yordy Reyna made his return in attack following his one-game suspension. The other starters were the usual mainstays of the 2018 ‘Caps with Kamara, Davies, Techera, Nerwinski, Ghazal, Teibert and Marinovic continuing to hold their places in the starting XI.
The opening 15 minutes saw a cagey affair, with FC Dallas coming into the match needing 3 points just as much as Vancouver, albeit FCD were looking to move back into first place in the West. Neither side retained possession well early, but you could clearly see that Dallas was going to prevent Vancouver’s all too predictable attacks from developing.
With the team setup as it is, there was the continued repetitive routine of Teibert coming short to combine with Waston or Henry, before looking to play a ball over the top to Reyna, Davies or Kamara. All too often in this match, Kei Kamara was sucked out wide into the channels trying to create something for his team.
I have to say here - that in no way has it made sense to me, why your number one aerial threat, has been playing crosses into the middle. Techera all too often this season, has been the one and only ‘Caps player in the penalty box when those are coming in, too. Needless to say it should be the other way around.
Around the 20 minute mark, Alphonso Davies beat Marcos down the right flank and looked to cut it back into the box for the waiting Kamara. The cross took an awkward deflection, and Kamara went for an overhead kick, there were shouts for handball from the crowd, but nothing doing though.
Not long after that, a Brett Levis cross found Cristian Techera in the box who controlled well, then turned both Reto Ziegler and Matt Hedges, before lashing a shot off the crossbar. It was the best effort from the match from the Uruguayan.
Despite how negative this report may sound - the ‘Caps did try. It’s not like they took the field Sunday and rolled over and died. Much like the game last week against the Sounders, they had plenty of shots and created dangerous situations. The problem was that, what many of us as fans and in the media expected them to be good at, which is defending and in particular defending set pieces, was repeatedly undone by Dallas.
The first goal came in the dying moments of the first half as Mosquera beat four defenders to head home a Max Urruti dead ball at the near post. Kendall Waston, Doneil Henry and Kei Kamara were all within a yard of Mosquera and couldn’t clear that ball.
The goal that started it all! Watch @santiagoocaice's goal in the 42nd minute (or just watch it again)! #ChallengeAll pic.twitter.com/IiAOcCSL1f— FC Dallas (@FCDallas) September 24, 2018
Needing to get a result, Carl Robinson opted to remove Brett Levis early in the second half for Nicolas Mezquida, and shifted Davies to left back. It wasn’t even ten minutes into the second half that Victor Ulloa won the ball back from Aly Ghazal in midfield before sliding a pass in to Michael Barrios who was almost clean through on goal coming in from the right hand side. A better finish and it could have easily been 2-0 with Davies being exposed at left back, where he shouldn’t be to begin.
Looking for more creativity in midfield, where the ‘Caps were losing the battle all afternoon, Robinson opted to bring on Jordon Mutch for Aly Ghazal on 64’ minutes.
While I begrudge Davies moving to left back, it did work for the goal as he got into the channel and played an inviting cross in for Kamara. Kei did what he does and headed home to level the scores.
The Headmaster doing what he does best!— Vancouver Whitecaps (@WhitecapsFC) September 24, 2018
1-1 | #VANvFCD | #VWFC pic.twitter.com/95RS0wR2nS
Still, with the removal of Ghazal and an actual left back, the Dallas attack looked more dangerous, with Urruti playing an easy early ball in to Barrios. Both players were wide open if you look back at it, and Barrios was clean through and really should have done better. His strike was clean but Marinovic was able to make the save to preserve the tie at that point.
Despite the effort it was all for not in the end, as another set piece undid the ‘Caps. With less than 5 minutes to go. Again, it was from a set piece, Max Urruti played a corner to the near post, Barrios was completely unmarked and flicked his header toward the back post where Matt Hedges, who was also completely unmarked, headed home from point blank.
Set pieces. Set pieces. Set pieces.— Major League Soccer (@MLS) September 24, 2018
Matt Hedges gives @FCDallas the lead late! #VANvDAL https://t.co/MizYVvkMnZ
It was sloppy defending from another set piece, and left the ‘Caps with another home loss and a mountain to climb.
Is that the swan song of the 2018 season? It very well could be. Be sure to let us know your thoughts, we’ll have a report card grading each player’s performances later today.