The Vancouver Whitecaps came into the final match of the 2019 MLS season with little to play for, except spoiler for their opponent Real Salt Lake. The only questions remaining for this season was what could we gleam from the final Starting XI decisions on what might happen next season.
There were not too many surprises with the final Starting XI of 2019. Despite thoughts of a possible back-three next season from some, including myself, Marc Dos Santos has stated that his primary formation will be 4-3-3. Sure enough, in the final match of the season that is what he went with. Nerwinski remains injured, so Erik Godoy continued to fill-in at right back. Interestingly, Sutter was available, but did not start. Cornelius found himself also in the Starting XI, thanks in-part to Jasser Khmiri being injured…again. The middle three of Teibert, Rose, and Hwang have been in-grained for the last few months. Meanwhile the front three saw Montero and Reyna left out. Montero has been a late substitute since the arrival of Ricketts, so no surprise there. Reyna has played, compared to his teammates, well this season, but was left out of the 18 in Los Angeles and was only on the bench for the final match of the season. Could this be a sign of what is to come in the off-season, or is it simply resting a player nursing an injury?
I think you guys are trying to read the tea leaves too hard. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.— J San (@RataganCan) October 6, 2019
The Caps looked good for the first five minutes or so, culminating in the fourth minute. Adnan delivered a fantastic free kick ball, which Ricketts directed on-target. It was an easy save for Rimando, but was certainly a nice opportunity.
From that point on, it was downhill for the rest of the first half. Real Salt Lake were able to capitalize in the 28th minute. It was a fantastic build-up and playing around, to be finished off with a forceful header from Kreilach. Basically, it was a goal that you would want to see the Caps do.
Heading into the half, it was difficult to find any positives.
That it's over.— RobRenfrew (@rob_morena) October 6, 2019
The second half continued similar to the first half, with Salt Lake dominated the early play. Even when Vancouver was in possession the attacking players of the Caps were static, not providing many opportunities for a goal. It is no
Even when Vancouver was in possession, the front line was static and not providing many opportunities for a goal. That began to change around the 55th minute, as Whitecaps seemed to show some continued pressure.
Bair and Ricketts gave way to Montero and Reyna around 60 minutes. The veteran pair needed some time to get up-to-speed, but once Reyna began to get involved, it seemed to spark the team. They almost capitalized in the 69th minute. However, Rimando made his 1,700 save special, robbing the Caps of the equalizer.
The last bit of good news for the season came in the 81st minute, when academy product Georges Mukumbilwa made his debut. However, try as they might, the Vancouver Whitecaps were unable to pull out another last-minute heroics and ended the season with a whimper, losing 1-0 to Real Salt Lake.
The Vancouver Whitecaps were not badly outplayed in this one but only looked dangerous/threatening for a few brief periods of time late in the match. This will be a busy off-season and I am curious to see what happens going forward.
In Other News
We will be having more over the next few weeks reflecting on the season, but as this match went on, I began to come up with various talking points, so let’s start with this one. It would appear that MDS is going with a 4-3-3 next season. It is what he has gone with to close out the year and has been what he has said was his preference. Therefore, I see three starting positions needing to be filled next season. Here is my starting lineup for 2020. What are your thoughts?
Godoy (or Newinski), Henry, Khmiri, Adnan
Someone, Hwang, Someone
Someone, Reyna, Chirinos