A draw at home, against a Colorado Rapids team that is joint bottom of the Western Conference and that the ‘Caps have already beaten this year, was not ideal. Especially, when a win would have propelled the Vancouver Whitecaps up into the coveted playoff places level on points with Minnesota United.
Instead, the Whitecaps had a lackadaisical start to their first match in almost three weeks and fell behind by two goals early thanks to some very poor defending, and some suspect ball watching.
Speaking to the gathered media – and about 15 people that apparently won a contest or auction of some sort to sit in on the press conference – Marc Dos Santos in his usual blunt nature, admitted that “it wasn’t good.”
“In the first 20 minutes, 25 minutes we didn’t come in very well. We struggled. They tried to play a lot of balls in behind us. Defensively we were, I feel, a little bit sloppy in the first 20-25 minutes. I don’t know if it was the effect of the 3 weeks without playing, and now you’re going in right away, maybe? It wasn’t good.”
Dos Santos admitted that the team had to make an adjustment midway through the first half, since “when they were playing a lot of balls in behind, we felt that there was a lack of understanding in that part between Erik Godoy and Andy Rose, so then we pushed Jon Erice to play in between them.”
With a shift to something closer to three at the back, both Ali Adnan and Jake Nerwinski were pushed higher up their respective flanks, with the likes of Yordy Reyna and Lucas Venuto being drawn in closer to Fredy Montero to link up play.
While the ‘Caps were able to claw one back at the end of the first half, midway through the second half they still hadn’t managed to equalise. Per MDS, “when the team was pushing we just felt that those extra 30 minutes… it would be good to have fresh legs in that right wing back position. And that’s why we asked Sutter to stay so high on the field.”
In the end it paid off, but the start left the Whitecaps pushing uphill at home once again.
In their returns to BC Place, Kei Kamara and Nicolas Mezquida were lively to start the game, and perhaps, a small chip may have been resting on their shoulders respectively. When asked about what it was like to come up against his former teammates, Felipe Martins brushed it aside saying “we appreciate everything they did for the club, but we don’t think about what is their motivation or whatever it is.”
Instead, the Brazilian opted to focus on the now, and areas that he felt the club is improving.
“I think, as you can see in the, what is it 17 games that we played until now? We’ve been very solid defensively, especially in our half, we’re very good defending deep. Now, we’ve been working very hard the past 3 weeks to be more positive in the attacking third, to be more creative. And if you go back for what I have felt in the game, we were able to get balls wide, and to get numbers in the box. And we had a couple half chances in there. You know if we could put the ball in the back of the net, we would be talking about another thing here.
I think it’s an improvement tonight offensively, especially playing against a team that is very deep. If you look at the possession I think it was 70% possession for us.”
The possession stat was a positive, and the amount of passes the Whitecaps attempted (716) and completed (638) was a record for the club, and the ‘Caps did manage to get into the final third yesterday – but you can’t be battling back from a 2-0 hole at home.
The ‘Caps have a quick turn around as they enter another hectic stretch of games, with a trip to Dallas on Wednesday, and before taking on Seattle in another Cascadia derby next Saturday. With the team already thin thanks to international call ups, some rotation will almost certainly be needed.
When asked about some of the faces making the bench on Saturday for the Whitecaps, such as Brendan McDonough, Michael Baldisimo, Sean Melvin and Theo Bair, Felipe was happy to talk about the potential of those players and what they could contribute to this 2019 ‘Caps team. Felipe spoke highly of both Bair and Balidisimo.
“I believe in Theo Bair,” said the Brazilian, “he’s been very good for us. He’s big and strong, his ability to go behind, of course he’s still very young, but I believe that especially in those stretches [of the season] those guys can come in. Baldisimo, I always liked him since I got here. He’s very composed on the ball, and I hope he gets a chance to play because he’s a guy that deserves [it.] He works very hard, he’s very humble and has a lot of quality.”
It’s going to be a hectic couple of weeks, and while even Marc Dos Santos said that “I don’t cry about the Gold Cup, I want Canada to go as far as they can. I don’t cry about Lass not being here.” Instead they have two options, “we cry about the guys that are not here or we try maximize the guys that are here and we try to do our best with everybody that’s here”
The problem with that is that the future of one of the key guys that is here, Ali Adnan, is still very much in question. His loan is set to expire on June 30 and given the displays he’s put in for the Whitecaps, it’s hard not to think that a club elsewhere would be very interested in his services.
Dos Santos as per usual was coy in his response when asked if we would see Adnan line-up for the Whitecaps at BC Place come July 13 when Sporting KC comes to Vancouver. His answer this time, “If I was Harry Potter I would tell you, or Houdini or something like that, but I’m not. I can’t read the future, sorry. I’m human like you guys.”
The ‘Caps will certainly have to maximise the players at their disposal one way or another, and hopefully, the often hyped Baldisimo and Saturday’s overlooked Theo Bair will be able to have a positive impact as the club looks to force it’s way into the playoff mix.