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Report Card: Vancouver Whitecaps vs LAFC

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MLS: Los Angeles FC at Vancouver Whitecaps FC Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

The Vancouver Whitecaps defeated LAFC while actually looking like the better team. You know what comes next, let’s look at how the individual players performed.

Evan Bush: 7.0

Bush faced only one shot on target (that counted) and it was a penalty that went in. His distribution, however, was really excellent. Bush frequently allowed Vancouver to bypass LAFC’s press.

Ali Adnan: 8.0

Adnan made a number of key defensive contributions and did a lot to help the team manage the game when LAFC pulled within one. He also lead the team in touches and did well to advance the ball down the left hand side.

Erik Godoy: 8.0

Godoy was a calming presence at the back, leading the team in passing accuracy and clearances.

Ranko Veselinovic: 6.9

This was probably Ranko’s best defensive performance with the ‘Caps. He lead the team in blocked shots and was second in interceptions. Unfortunately his passing was still a little wayward. Notably he only reached 40% accuracy on his long distance passes.

Jake Nerwinski: 6.5

Nerwinski played a solid defensive game, giving away a penalty not withstanding, and also showed some nice vision to create a big chance for Fredy Montero in the first half.

Janio Bikel: 9.0

In a recent article I said Bikel had been a good though not elite defensive midfielder for Vancouver. This performance was elite. Bikel had 4 tackles and 4 interceptions but that doesn’t capture how he bullied the LAFC midfielders all night with a combination of physicality and intelligent play. He also played a key role in Vancouver’s opening goal, starting the play with a well placed long ball.

Leonard Owusu: 7.5

Owusu showed lots of the qualities that lead Vancouver to buy him in the first place. He provided lots of energy in the midfield, showed some good skill on the dribble, played a few incisive passes, and even managed to squeeze in a couple shots. There is no doubt that Owusu has tools, it’s just a matter of him using those tools on a consistent basis.

Russel Teibert: 6.5

Teibert did everything that was asked of him. He provided energy, kept it simple, and allowed Ali Adnan to get forward with more freedom. It was not necessarily exciting to watch but it worked.

Cristian Dájome: 8.5

Dájome has looked a new man since his family was able to move to Vancouver. He was all over the pitch with 4 shots and 4 tackles. He frequently muscled opposition players off the ball, an element of his game we haven’t seen much of in the past, and of course was heavily involved in both goals.

Fredy Montero: 8.5

Montero played excellently once again. He orchestrated both goals before coming off in a huff for no discernable reason.

Lucas Cavallini: 9.0

Cavallini is good at two things, getting into dangerous scoring areas and winning physical battles. In this game he was allowed to do both of those things; scoring two goals from within 10 yards and winning a whopping 7 aerial duels. I think Cavallini’s best qualities are brought out when he plays with Montero, or anyone who is comfortable dropping into deeper positions in the attacking 3rd. That takes the pressure off him to come deep for the ball, dribble past defenders, and make plays (things he’s not that good at) and allows him to focus on the things he is good at.


Subs:

Tosaint Ricketts, Michael Baldisimo, and Ryan Raposo all served their purpose without any one of them doing anything particularly noteworthy in and of itself. The aim of the game by the time they came on was to close out the win and they managed to do that. Raposo still has not attempted a shot in MLS but he showed very good energy, a willingness to put in the defensive work, and didn’t back out of any of the duels he went into. Baldisimo is currently being credited with one key pass but 0 passes. I’m not sure how he managed that.

The Whitecaps as a Whole:

You might think that you can only take so much away from a win over a team that was missing so many key players, including all three DPs. To an extent that’s true but LAFC still managed to put out quite a strong squad, the majority of whom were established pros who’s place in MLS is unquestioned. People often say that the Whitecaps are full of USL level talent (or CPL, PDL, VMSL, depending on how scornful the writer is feeling). Now, I understand that people are being hyperbolic when they say this but it’s always struck me as a bit or a lazy way of looking at it, kind of like saying “all politicians are the same” or something to that effect. There may be a portion of truth in the sentiment, but it’s not a very helpful way of looking at the world. One of my takeaways from the chart articles is that the Whitecaps don’t have that many players who don’t deserve to be in MLS, but they are a bit lacking in top end talent. Against LAFC the Whitecaps faced a team of MLS players who were without their top end talent and the ‘Caps ran the show for the vast majority of the game. We should not get ahead of ourselves here and celebrate the fact that most of the players on this MLS team are good enough to be in MLS, but also this game gives a good indication of where the team is at.