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Report Card: Whitecaps vs. San Jose Earthquakes

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Breaking down Wednesday night’s brand new version of the same old, same old

MLS: Vancouver Whitecaps FC at San Jose Earthquakes Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

And I thought last week against Seattle was a tale of two halves.

Going into Wednesday night, I was genuinely worried we’d bare witness to something akin to one of two scenarios: either the 4-3 collapse the Vancouver Whitecaps suffered through at MLS is Back at the hands of San Jose earlier this season, or the absolute shellacking the Earthquakes laid out the last time the ‘Caps came to town.

Instead, it was an all new brand of disappointment. There were fits and starts of promising play, where Vancouver was certainly intent on pressuring their hosts on to the back foot, but there’s not much to be said about best-laid plans when the gut punch of a red card is wholly chased by the sucker punch of a second.

As such, a midweek match that began with a bit of hope and potential evolved into a 3-0 slog that could easily be lumped into another case of “2020 being 2020.”

As it’s usually done with these here report cards, a score of 5 is an average performance, so average in fact that you would barely know anything actually happened. I promise you: there was none of that Wednesday night.

Evan Bush - 4.5

On the shots he could get a hand to, Bush looked fine for a guy who hadn’t seen action in over a year, like the back to back stops on Cade Cowell and Shea Salinas later in the match. He also reacted well to the shots driven wide, cutting down the angle on Judson’s effort at 41’ or racing out to disrupt Cristian Espinoza at 31’, even if the play was ruled offside. My only real gripe was the passing coming out of the back that progressively got worse.

I don’t think I can grief Bush on any of the goals: his defender gets spun and leaves his mark to a wide open shot on the first goal, while the third was the result of a shorthanded team caught on the counter as they pushed for a goal in injury time where they wouldn’t even equalize in an all but over game. Maaaaaaybe he could have had the second? But it was a snap one-touch shot just out of his reach from an unmarked-in-the-box Andy Rios, so it’s like a 70/30 ratio of “Defensive Breakdown” to “Bush Miscue.”

Ali Adnan - 3

Adnan must have been hungry, because he bit at everything Espinoza fed him. I’m not even talking about his regular act of getting caught way up-field, which I initially pegged him as having tempered early in the match.

Rather, it was on the plays where he was getting absolutely burned trying to defend plays well out of his reach. Watch below and follow Adnan on the play just before Andy Rose picks up his first yellow card:

Adnan for some reason steps towards Judson, who Michael Baldisimo was in the process of closing down, leaving Espinoza the chance to run onto a pass into space. Rose is forced into taking out the winger, lest he go for a breezy fifty yard jaunt.

And this kind of thing just kept happening.

Sure, Adnan had the occasional decent dribble, like when he drew a card and a free kick off Florian Jungwirth to end the first half, but to end the second half with a needless push for a meaningless goal that results only in making the scoreline even more lopsided is just silly.

Andy Rose - 1.5

Well, what’s to be said? You draw two yellow cards and get kicked out, you get a poor score. There’s definitely more to the rating, but we’ll build to it.

To be honest, the first was kind of necessity to counteract the bad marking from Adnan, but professional fouls only really work if you don’t continue to do things that necessitate card giving.

The second card was arguably soft (and certainly not the only soft one given), but Rose is still pulling on Carlos Fierro after having given up the ball. That’s generally going to be a yellow card regardless. I know it can be said that refs don’t like to be put into the position of having to give a soft card to a player already on one, but why put the ref in that spot in the first place?

In any case, Rose was OK with his defensive positioning before being sent off, getting blocks and interceptions in here and there, and was arguably robbed of a goal on the second of two headers he put at James Marcinkowski early on, but the quality of his passes was often lacking, in either their weight or their accuracy, sometimes both.

Ranko Veselinovic (3) came on at the 55th minute, in place of Tosaint Ricketts to shore up the backline following the dismissal of Rose. Maybe it was the sloppy crabgrass, but Ranko’s passing out of the back wasn’t any better than what Rose provided. Nevertheless, it was bad and so was his marking.

Erik Godoy - 3.5

I’m not penalizing Godoy for his red card as harshly as I had for Rose, and if you watched the match or have at least seen a clip of the “foul”, you’d know why. Maybe Chapman is reacting to Godoy initially bringing his arm up, but Jackson Yueill is clearly unaffected by it, and only goes to ground when is foot is stepped on.

I thought Godoy looked fine defensively before being sent off and his passing was good without being great. Nevertheless, there’s always going to be that ignominy of being the guy who reduced his team from ten men to nine and the fallout that comes with it, whether the card was deserved or not.

(Narrator: It wasn’t.)

Jake Nerwinski - 6

I thought Nerwinski played really well in this one. His passing was decent, albeit usually backwards, he was better at tracking balls in the air than in the past, and defensively was either throwing himself in front of shots and passes or making solid tackles, aside from the singular time he was burned by Tommy Thompson at 58’. I also would have liked to have him get up the pitch a little more often, but sometimes that’s a situational thing.

Ryan Raposo (4) came on for Nerwinski at 73’ and didn’t truly make an impact in this one. He had a block, connected on three of his four passes, and got 7 touches total. Was a bit of a shame to see his fire wasted in a game the club just needed to see to the end.

Russell Teibert - 6

Seeing Rusty start on the wing was definitely unexpected, but I think it was key to what was supposed to be the game plan Wednesday night. Before things went to heck in the second half, anyway.

Teibert maintained his usual pressure on ball carriers, but having it happen further up the pitch rather than centrally and deep in the defensive end was invaluable, as it was matched by the pairing of Ricketts and Fredy Montero up front, Baldisimo in the middle, and to a lesser extent Cristian Dajome on the opposite wing. These high-pressing offensive players may have been more in sync in the first half than they have been at any point this season.

That’s not me saying Teibert was the key to it all, but it was good to see him flex one of his traits a little bit harder in a more dynamic place on the field, and have it complimented by his teammates in the opposing end of the field.

Otherwise, Teibert’s defensive positioning was solid (he had seven recoveries and an interception in one half!) and he made two key passes in setting up decent chances for Dajome and Montero. Just a shame we couldn’t get more than forty-five from him.

Coming on for Teibert at half time was David Milinkovic (3.5), who got caught chasing the play on the first two goals, tracking back way too late only to be spun by Espinoza on the opener, before being left to chase the ‘Quakes around on the second.

Offensively, he’s usually more than capable, with a decent touch and control of the ball, but his defensive shortcomings crept up in this one.

Michael Baldisimo - 5.5

Good touches on the ball, decent corner kicks for the most part, and would often get stuck-in in the center of the park, which is nice, as is the higher line Baldisimo kept in comparison to how far back the Whitecaps’ CMs usually sit.

If I had a bone to pick, however, it would be with Baldisimo’s passing when under pressure. For the most part, Baldi will make smart plays with the ball, but if he’s under too much duress and needs to get rid of it, things go a bit haywire.

Overall, Baldisimo looked pretty solid, though that yellow card he drew for a tackle on Thompson was pretty ugly, as was his marking on Rios’ goal. He let Rios cut in front of him and didn’t follow!

Coming on for Baldisimo in the 73rd minute was Patrick Metcalfe (4) who, like Raposo, did not have an impact on the outcome. However, he did get more touches (9) than Raposo, so there’s that, I suppose.

But if a sub in the middle needed to be made, I personally would have liked to have seen in Metcalfe with Baldisimo, rather than in place of Baldisimo.

Leonard Owusu - 4

Speaking of center mids, Jingles was solid in the tackle, to the point where he’s willfully throwing his body into a San Jose sandwich, and was great at winning the knocked down, second balls off longer punts, but was lacking once he had the ball in possession. Both his ball control and his passing were a bit subpar.

Cristian Dajome - 3.5

More than anything, Dajome needed to be more involved in this one. The early header over the bar got my expectations up early, but he mostly disappeared after that.

However, I want to to point out that if you’re going to earn the ball through a foul that doesn’t get called, as Dajome had in the 62nd minute, and send yourself on a breakaway from the center line, you have to do better than put a shot at the net that goes ten feet wide. Particularly, when you’re down a man and still have a chance to equalize.

Conversely, credit needs to be given to Dajome for the headaches he was giving Shea Salinas once Dajome moved to the backline, following Godoy’s sending off and the Nerwinski sub. That was a battle I would have expected to happen in Salinas’ end of the pitch, but Dajome held his own.

Tosaint Ricketts - 6

Like Rusty and Fredy, Ricketts had some great pressure on the San Jose backline to start the match, to the point where he matched Fredy’s attacking energy very well. Dare I say these two should start together on a regular basis!

And like Montero, Ricketts often was quality in supporting his defense, coming back from center to help out more than your regular striker. He certainly needed the ball at his feet far more often, but was kind of the consummate teammate without it.

As mentioned, Ricketts was replaced by Ranko at 55’, shortly after the Rose dismissal.

Fredy Montero - 7.5

Consistent high press, read the play well, and just smart off the ball, to the point where Montero was really getting in the trenches too, going sideline to sideline at times.

On the attack, Montero was earning corners often, such as one coming off a solid rip from distance at 20’, and was usually quality with the weight on his passes to Dajome (33’). Not the best of free kicks to end the first half, but I’m thinking he was distracted by the honking car horns in the parking lot, from fans clearly waiting to continue doing donuts on that brutal patch of grass.

Nevertheless, Montero looked hecking solid until being replaced by Theo Bair (Inc.) at 80’, who had a couple touches and caused a foul, but was really only needed to help see out this 9 v 11 nightmare.