This took a little longer to get out than I would have liked, and in no was the delay a direct result of enthusiastically enjoying a solid 1-0 Vancouver Whitecaps victory over a visiting D.C. United side Saturday night.
Well, maybe a little. I mean, how often have we won at home this season? It sure as hell felt like a reason to celebrate!
Nevertheless, it was a quality win for the ‘Caps against a foe who’s most likely going to make the playoffs and has been generally decent on the road this year. Even if the shot and possession stats were decidedly one-sided, the Whitecaps made the most out of their chances and held firm defensively when called upon, often forcing D.C. into poor efforts on net.
As is the custom around these parts, a “5” is a totally average, “You Did Your Job” performance, with pros and cons tugging scores in either direction. Here we go!
Max Crepeau - 7.5
Two big saves on the two D.C. shots on target and was very strong in the air. Was very fortunate to have Luciano Acosta’s header carom off the post and spin right back into his arms. Nothing wrong with getting a good mix of skill and luck.
Distribution could have been better, but that’s a minor thing when weighed against the securing of a shutout for your club.
Ali Adnan - 6
Defensively sound, unless you’re Ulises Seguera and you’re dribbling right at him. I mean, he got beat kind of bad in the 32nd minute, with the resulting shot thankfully being skiied.
Nothing wrong in benefiting from poor finishing, so long as you learn from it, as the stand-up 1v1 might have been the only real blemish for Adnan on the night: he did finish with six clearances, three tackles, three recoveries, and three blocks afterall.
Add in the strong pace getting up the pitch to contribute offensively, nearly bending one in after cutting in on Leonardo Jara, and a decent job of collapsing on defense after his runs, and I’d call it a quality night.
Derek Cornelius - 8
The guy was a beast Saturday night. Very strong in the air, where his 10 clearances, all inside the penalty area, more than doubled nearly everyone on the pitch. And he was putting in work on offense, too: at first blush that contribution appeared limited to a booming header, one that seemed destined for the onion bag before Bill Hamid punched it away, but praise needs to be given to Cornelius’ passing throughout the night.
Rather than always lump balls up the pitch, Cornelius was searching for teammates with balls on the grounf. That’s how Russell Teibert was sprung in the build up to the goal, and that’s how Yordy Reyna quickly got up the field before ripping one off the crossbar.
In both cases the resulting individual efforts were phenomenal, but they all started with simple passes on the ground and through the middle, something the team’s been lacking all season. It was great to see Cornelius go against the grain in that fashion when building from the back, keeping the ball on the deck and making passes to teammates when they have the space to work.
Erik Godoy - 4.5
Nearly set the entirely wrong tone for the match with a lackadaisical header straight to Wayne Rooney moments after the kickoff. His passing overall wasn’t anything to crow about, but Godoy settled down defensively after that first minute gaffe. Positioned himself well and kept the backline organized and compact.
Jake Nerwinski - 5.5
Had a couple of awkward control moments, but with four successful dribbles Nerwinski was clearly fine once he could settle the ball.
That is, as long as he wasn’t passing for accuracy from the Whitecaps’ end:
That’s kind of a weird thing to see, a defender not being able to make a pass within thirty yards of your endline, yet finding a groove at the center.
In any case, Jake’s hustle on defense was great and he was having a decent run overall, right up to his injury sub in the 50th minute. On came Doneil Henry (4.5), who was fine defensively for the last forty minutes, but his lacking pass accuracy dragged down his rating.
Russell Teibert - 6.5
Again, his dribble on Reyna’s goal was incredible. Felt like he was getting owned in the air, however, and although his passing was statistically great at 96% for accuracy, I kept getting the sense that Teibert can improve in how he leads a player with a pass. It’s not as though he’s entirely setting up teammates to fail with accurate passes into precarious situations, but it’s something that can be improved upon.
Hwang In-beom - 6
He’s really growing into that deep CM position. Generally positive when he’s turning with the ball and 9 for 10 in accuracy on his long balls means he can spray it when called upon. And the ten recoveries, five interceptions, and three tackles on defense describes a job well done in closing down on players and passing lanes.
For now, he just needs to learn how to be a boss in the center of the pitch, and find a way to impose his will on anything that goes through the middle.
Andy Rose - 4
Kind of a quiet one? Rose was strong in the air, but I kept getting the feeling he could do better in making himself a target. And 48% for passing accuracy? Yeesh.
But two interceptions, five clearances, and five recoveries is a decent defensive night. If only Rose could sort out his offensive contribution.
Fredy Montero - 6
Looked feisty early, with quick fouls on Felipe and Jara to kick off the night, but it was a mostly positive feistiness throughout, with two key passes and two successful dribbles before being subbed in the 79th minute. I get the feeling we’re going to keep seeing Montero playing under the #10s for the rest of the season.
Made way for Tosaint Ricketts (5.5), who looked strong on the ball right off the hop in his ‘Caps debut. Would have liked to have seen a better header in his one chance on net. Ultimately it was a decent run that needed a bit more involvement, but I owe that mostly to the ‘Caps needing to hold their lead right to the end.
Theo Bair - 6
Had to grow into the game a little bit. Passing was mostly not great, but with the ball at his feet Bair is welcome to dribble all day. He’s looking more and more confident with each match, which is fantastic. Just needs a little more honing to polish off his game.
Yordy Reyna - 8.5
Pretty damn solid, through and through. The “Welcome Back” foul on Felipe inside the 10th minute looked a little rough, but it was a great example of how lively Reyna was throughout the match.
He definitely wanted this one. Great control, great hustle, and twice he beat a keeper who’s arguably been the best in the league this season, with a third shot that just couldn’t quite bend enough. Fantastic night for Reyna.
Scott Sutter (Inc.) came on for Reyna in the 90th minute to help the club get through seven minutes of stoppage time for the shutout.