Going into the weekend, were you to predict the outcome of a seven-goal match between the 2019 versions of the Vancouver Whitecaps and the LA Galaxy, I certainly wouldn’t blame anyone if the goals were assigned greatly in favor of the team from Los Angeles.
I mean, we specifically have evidence of this happening to the Whitecaps in Los Angeles earlier this year, albeit against a first-place, goal scoring juggernaut.
So how great of a surprise was it to see the Whitecaps pull out a result, on the road against a tough opponent, who should be clawing for every point to guarantee they’ll at least host their knockout match in the cup playoffs?
Extraordinarily great, that’s how great. And now, we get to rank the players!
As it usually goes, a score of 5 is a totally average, middle of the road score where the pros and cons are weighed like the scales of justice ...or like the scale in a coke lab. Whatever simile works best for the imagination.
Max Crepeau - 6.5
Sharp enough to pick off a number of crosses and made three big, second-half saves, cutting down the angle on a Cristian Pavon breakout before twice demonstrating his fingertip strength for Efrain Alvarez and Zlatan Ibrahimovic (though a foul call while the latter was shooting kept a fantastic reaction save off the scoresheet).
Though three goals were conceded, I’m really only looking at Max on the second one. The first and third came off defensive lapses, but even if Uriel Antuna was able to get in behind PC and onto Jonathan dos Santos’ looping ball, he’s still at the top of the box with three defenders nearby. Full credit to Antuna for his touch on the goal, but I thought Crepeau was far too eager on this one.
Brett Levis - 5
Didn’t have a lot to do defensively during his forty-five minutes, which is fine, but his 1v1 against The Zlatan in the 39th was solid. Had some decent runs up the pitch, too.
Thought his touch could have been better, but the passes Levis was receiving in his end were often heavy and extra-panicky. Usually they were from Teibert, but maybe that’s just a coincidence.
Levis’ halftime sub brought PC Giro (4) on the pitch, who looked fine with his passing (100% PA! Who knew?) and did a decent job of moving into space offensively, but defensively suffered for it when he’d get caught up field, which Antuna was certainly thankful for before chipping Crepeau.
PC wasn’t outright bad or anything, but he never seemed overly involved after learning from the mistake made with Antuna. Just played it relatively safe afterwards, which is fine.
Doneil Henry - 6
Bagged himself the kind of goal he usually puts into the Whitecaps net! Hey-o!
I kid, I kid. Henry fully beat his man and ushered the ball to the back of the net for one of the most awkward goals I’ve seen, thus proving that, yes, they do in fact all count.
For the most part Henry looked decent defensively, but I wasn’t the biggest fan of how far he chased the ball before Antuna’s goal, getting as far as center only for dos Santos to loop the ball over everyone. There were a lot of eff ups on that particular play, but it started with Henry drawing way out of position.
Nevertheless, Henry did finish with 15 clearances, which is super solid and definitely commendable. Usually that’s something to brag about...
Jasser Khmiri - 5
...but less so when compared to the nineteen Khmiri fought off in his first match as a Whitecap. Even if it’s the second last game of the season, he played well for someone being throwing into the fire, up against Ibra no less.
For the most part, Khmiri fit right in. He got rounded on the first goal and didn’t need to challenge for the third with Henry on Ibra before the ball caromed to Chris Pontius, but overall I thought he did a good job of reading the play in front of him.
Also: did it feel like Khmiri and Henry fought off 34 clearances on their own? They sure looked calm knocking all those crosses away.
Erik Godoy - 6.5
I kept getting the sense that Godoy’s performance at right back was what Carl Robinson was hoping for whenever he’d play Tim Parker out of position all those years ago. Very chill, made it look easy at times.
And yet, Godoy would have benefited from a sense of urgency on LA’s opener. If someone like Pavon is going to pull Khmiri from the center on a counterattack, Godoy needs to move to the middle towards the spot, not hang back and off to the side. One of the rare times Godoy did not read a play well.
So when did he? How about when he assisted Ricketts’ goal?
Initially inclined to retreat, Godoy turned back and moved to the acres of space afforded him, courtesy of the deep-lying Dave Romney and Pavon waiting back at center for the breakout pass that never comes as the Whitecaps move the ball across the pitch.
As cool as you like, Godoy one-times his cross perfectly for Ricketts to nod past Matt Lampson.
Russell Teibert - 4.5
His usual high-energy, defensively-sound, safe-passing self. Was good to see him get up the pitch more often, though his successful passes often looked a little heavy and hard to handle. Nothing extraordinarily problematic nor breathtaking. Just a decent outing.
Andy Rose - 6
I think Andrew summed it up very well yesterday: “The problem with Andy Rose putting in these half-decent performances is he’s going to convince management to keep him on for next year.” Good positioning, and made up for his lack of pace with an ability to successfully spray the ball around the field.
Hwang In-beom - 8
Whipped in the cornerkick for Henry’s goal, picks out Godoy in space to set up Rickett’s goal, and selfless feeds Chirinos for the winner while on a two-on-Lampson. Had the occasional soft square ball, but was pretty spot on throughout to the tune of three key passes, two assists and a spot on the Team of the Week.
Michaell Chirinos - 7
Great movement off the ball, moving to space and dynamically cycling around, and incredibly smart with it as feet. Reads the play well, knowing when to dribble and when to lay it off with only the occasional pass that was just a little too soft.
AND - he got his first goal as a Whitecap! I reallllllly hope Chirinos is around for more next season.
Tosaint Ricketts - 6.5
Opened the match with great pace in getting up field, but it felt like Ricketts would detrimentally opt to hold the ball too long, even after reinforcements made it to the final third.
Still, I thought he was solid overall when going up the pitch, and was very happy to see him do proper striker things, like when he headed in the cross that Godoy floated in perfectly.
For Bair’s goal, I was originally going to give Ricketts props for knowingly not blasting the ball across the line when he was offside on the shot. However, he instead gets ‘em for admitting that he didn’t know he was offside and instead recognizing that Bair’s shot was (eventually) going across the line anyway, so why rock the boat?
Subbed for Fredy Montero (6.5) in the 65th minute, who wasn’t super involved once he got on the pitch. And then, suddenly, Super Sub throws on his cape for the third game in a row:
Khmiri clears to Montero inside of center, who gets a great touch to control the ball while fending off Daniel Steres, only to turn him and send Hwang on the run that ends the match, all while falling to the turf. Pretty damn solid.
Theo Bair - 7.5
I’m always worried when the road ‘Caps open the scoring early and half to defend for 75% of the match or more. Flashbacks ranging from LAFC in 2019 to Octavio Rivero’s opener in New York in 2016 raced through my head after Henry forced in the opener.
But Bair was one of the main reason’s as to why the Whitecaps didn’t wilt following Ibra’s equalizer, with his volley off the crossbar being a near-perfect response. It set the tone for a Vancouver side with no intent on giving up on this game, even if the club is only seeing out the season at this point.
Worked hard throughout, with a payoff coming in the form of some right place/right time, maybe-or-maybe not offside luck, when he poked a blocked & redirected shot off the foot of Chirinos past Lampson.
Wasn’t as glamorous as his goal against Portland, but like Henry’s from earlier, they all count.
Bair started cramping up as the match was approaching its last quarter and was replaced for Scott Sutter (5) in the 72nd minute, who got a shot off and made most of his passes, but mostly just helped the club see out an unexpected and arguably deserved victory.