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Post Match: Whitecaps at LAFC

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MLS: Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Los Angeles FC Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

It was another disaster at the hands of LAFC Wednesday at the Banc of California Stadium, with the home side battering the Caps 6-0.

Brian Rodriguez and Diego Rossi sliced open a generous Caps back line to the tune of five goals in the first half. The lone consolation for the Vancouver side was that they did not concede a seventh to tie the MLS record for worst loss.

The Caps stuck with the 4-2-3-1, just with some personnel tweaks. The backline remained the same but the moment we dreamed of arrived: Michael Baldisimo and Janio Bikel next to each other in the midfield. The other major tactical changes was Marc dos Santos bypassing the in-form Fredy Montero for Lucas Cavallini up top. Despite praising Montero earlier this week, MDS elected to have the Colombian on the bench, with David Milinkovic remaining in the number 10 role alongside Cristian Dajome and Theo Bair.

Oh and the Caps went with Bryan Meredith in goal after Thomas Hasal did not receive medical clearance to travel (neither did Max Crepeau but you knew that already). The team went back to the pool keeper well for a backup.

LAFC didn’t wait long to grab a goal—a well executed break took advantage on the right side cut open the Caps and was played out for a series of corners to the home side. Cristian Gutierrez and company looked lost on their zonal marking and Dejan Jacovic converted a spot-on Brian Rodriguez cross to make it 1-0.

Vancouver nearly netted an immediate equalizer, with Theo Bair playing in an inch perfect cross for Cava. The target man was close to replicating his game winning goal against RSL almost perfectly but fluffed the finish a bit and it was gathered by Pablo Sisniega.

Moments later, it was a set piece again which bit the Caps, although it was a bit of good fortune that helped LAFC double their advantage. A short corner deflected into the box and the Caps backed off on Bradley White-Phillips, giving him the space to half volley the ball past a helpless Bryan Meredith.

What was shocking about the second goal was how little the team learned from the first one—space was ample not just for BWP but for a handful of other LAFC players in the area of the deflected cross.

BWP one-upped himself with another goal just five minutes later. It was Brian Rodriguez we again carved up the Caps on the right side. A Diego Rossi shot was caught by Ranko Veselinovic but fell into the path of Wright-Phillips, who half-bicycle kicked it home.

LAFC got a fourth a few minutes later, as the Caps were opened up on the left hand side this time. Gutierrez was absolutely clowned by Rossi, who played a cross that would have found BWP for a hat trick but for a sprawling Veselinovic, who played the ball into his own net for an own goal.

The Caps didn’t even wait until halfway through the first half to make a sub, yanking Theo Bair for another midfielder, Leonard Owusu in a flailing attempt to stabilize things.

The whole “marking Brian Rodriguez” thing continued to present problems for the Caps but the sub did seem to make a positive impact on the team’s play. The team was able to grab some possession, string some passes together and then launch a mystifying long ball into the box, with the move coming to an abrupt end.

It was never going to be good enough and Diego Rossi joined in on the fun in surgically picking apart Jake Nerwinski on the right side. Rossi and Mark-Anthony Kaye hooked up on a textbook give-and-go and Rossi gave Meredith no chance to stop a fifth goal.

Halftime mercifully came with no further goals (though LAFC had a couple plum chances and the Caps had a penalty that probably should’ve been given but nothing matters anymore anyway).

Erik Godoy and Andy Rose came on for Ranko and Milinkovic respectively. Would have liked to see Montero come on earlier (he subbed on Fredy in the 55th minute) given that the Caps needed some way of linking up Baldisimo (who shouldered the creative duties in midfield) and Cava.

LAFC did a mass sub about the same time as the Caps brought Montero on and that certainly took a bit of sharpness off for the home side—passes were a bit more errant, crosses picked out by Rose and the Caps were even able to work up a bit of a press at times.

Still Meredith was called upon in a major way to keep out a sixth after a great cross in from Blessing was flicked on by Danny Musovski but Meredith re-directed in midair to slap it away. He also gathered a wobbling shot from distance a few moments later and held it (the one deficiency of Hasal). It was a rough night for Meredith but something he can hold his cap on.

The Blessing-Musovski pairing did bear fruit a few minutes later when Blessing found Rodriguez, who made his way around (an unlucky) Cornelius and found Musovski. The ball later appeared to go off Rose last for an unfortunate own goal.

LAFC backed off almost entirely after that, content not to push for a record-tying seventh goal and let the match wind down to a 6-0 win.

Thoughts

  • Well we had a good run going so it stands to reason it was time for the wheels to come off the wagon.
  • Is MDS getting sacked in the morning?
  • I think Thomas Hasal’s growing pains in recent matches have made it easy to obscure how solid he really has been as a replacement for Max Crepeau. Meredith, a generally capable MLS deputy, looked more nervous than Hasal did in his early matches. Meredith had his moments but didn’t look comfortable early, perhaps because of the shocking defense. Still, Hasal has put in a masterclass on how be a keeper when your defense is piss poor...
  • Poor Theo Bair. Dude puts in the only decent pass the Caps made in the first 20 minutes and still gets subbed off
  • Does Eduard Atuesta have a twin? He was so influential in his first game back for LAFC
  • ...
  • I think Brian Rodriguez broke Guti. After putting in some really nice shifts, he got carved up Ali Adnan-style tonight. A one-off or a potential counterpoint to those who want to hand over the keys to the left back position to the Canadian full time?
  • Jake Nerwinski was starting to launch his redemption tour but tonight confirmed we need a new right back
  • Andy Rose was the best defender on the pitch. Let that sink in
  • It isn’t saying much but the Caps did look a bit more fluid once Montero came on and played as a second striker and to be honest all the attacking players did the best with what they could. Hope MDS was taking notes and Fredy gets the start Sunday.
  • I mean there isn’t a ton you can take from that aside from the defending being not good enough. Basic things (marking on set pieces...) was just absent and a lot of that falls on the defense but also on the manager. The good news is that this will probably give ownership a wake up call that the last two matches were an aberration and change is needed.
  • Russell Teibert as player-manager. Y’all heard it here first