A lot of things that happened this past weekend didn’t seem possible a few short months ago.
A big win over a top team, one the Whitecaps have constantly struggled against at home? Check.
A professional 90 minute showing that, while not perfect, was more than good enough to get the job done? Check.
A striker who can do more than just score goals (sometimes) and collect yellow cards? Check.
A manager who will make critical subs at the right time? Check.
Heck, a Russell Teibert goal? Check.
What a wild world we live in.
In all seriousness though, it was an impressive display from the blue and white, one that was mightily helpful as they push for one of the final three playoff spots in the West. In the middle of the summer, the playoffs felt like a pipe dream. At this stage, that feels like a realistic expectation. No matter how much pent up frustration might be felt about this organization, it’s been an impressive feat the way this group has turned things around recently.
All that being said, let’s dive into what we are here to do, handing out some grades in the report card.
Maxime Crepeau (6.0) - It was nice to have Max back in the fold after some big matches for the national team. He was a calming presence in the box and there was little he could do about Russell’s brillant left-footed curler.
Erik Godoy (7.5) - Oh boy was it good to see Erik back on the pitch. This is an exciting defensive group when he’s part of a back three.
Erik Godoy made a huge return to the #VWFC lineup tonight. In 90’, he had:— Alexandre Gangué-Ruzic (@AlexGangueRuzic) October 18, 2021
42/49 passing (86%)
5/7 long balls
7/10 duels won
Going to be huge to have him for the last 5 games. One of the best CBs in MLS pic.twitter.com/XbJLPacFQw
Ranko Veselinovic (7.0) - The Serbian has been a bit of a forgotten man as he’s struggled to stay healthy throughout the latter half of the campaign. That said, he’s been rock solid when available, and quietly been one of the Caps’ most improved players from last year. Heal up Ranko!
Florian Jungwirth (7.0) - Flo’s passing continues to be a joy to watch. He does have to move a bit more in space (not his greatest strength) with active fullbacks, but overall another good showing from the midseason pickup.
Javain Brown (7.5) - I’m still frustrated Javain didn't get the start for Jamaica against Canada, but that might have been a good thing for the Canadians. Brown picked up where he left off in terms of club form, darting down the wing and curling in crosses. He also showed off once again how he can play on either side of the pitch, an underrated element of his versatility.
Bruno Gaspar (6.0) - The Portuguese fullback continues to just sort of exist as a Whitecaps player. His play, while not poor as of late, has been thoroughly unremarkable, and I suspect that he’s still a good bit away from full fitness. It’s disappointing that we might not get to see the best of him in Vancouver.
Leonard Owusu (6.0) - Leo’s efforts were definitely in the right place in this match, even if those efforts didn’t always come off successfully. He’s continuing to grow in confidence after a tough start to the year.
Russell Teibert (7.5) - What more can we say? Interestingly enough, it wasn’t one of Rusty’s better showings recently. Other than the game winning goal, he only passed at 76 percent and lost a lot of contested balls, but overall it’s fair to say that he’s been in some great form as of late. Credit where credit is due.
Here’s the goal one more time for your viewing pleasure:
Ryan Gauld (7.5) - As much as Gauld’s top end quality has been impressive, his consistency has been even better. Gauld always seems to create something, and more often than not, when he’s on the end of chances, they find the back of the net. Not sure you can ask for much more than that.
Cristian Dajome (6.5) - It was nice to see Dajome back in a position that suits him a bit better. Interestingly enough, Dajome has been one of the few players who hasn’t really benefited from the coaching change. I think Sartini still has some work to do in order to maximize the Colombian’s attacking threat, but he did a lot of the thankless work throughout this match.
Brian White (8.0) - Like an onion, White is more and more interesting as a player as you pull back the layers. He put on his facilitator hat in this one and dished up two wonderful assists, even if Teibert did most of the heavy lifting on the second one. What really impressed me, yet again, from the American striker was his calmness and vision, especially on the first goal. Unlike many strikers, White doesn’t go full tunnel vision when he has the ball inside the box, time seems to slow down for him, and he’s often able to find the open man.
Substitutes (7.0) - Bikel was the standout of the group who came on at the half and really helped lock things down against a strong midfield unit for SKC. Godinho, despite my CANMNT flashbacks, had some really nice flashes late on, although there is something a bit awkward in his movement. Tos and Deiber brought some hustle, while Jake got hosed with that quick yellow card.
Vanni Sartini (8.0) - It already feels like a tired trope, but Vanni did what MDS couldn’t: getting the better of Marc’s former boss. While the possession and passing stats didn't look good in this one, the feeling around the match was much different than similar stat lines from years past. The Whitecaps looked controlled in the effort and never panicked or lost control of the game, even when things didn’t go their way. The subs were on point, and while the Whitecaps didn’t create heaps of chances late, they weren’t holding on for dear life either.
Could he be the Whitecaps’ next manager? Tom Bogert seems to think he’s a serious candidate!
Vanni Sartini has done a really good job since taking over as Vancouver Whitecaps interim head coach. Big win last night.— Tom Bogert (@tombogert) October 18, 2021
Dunno if/how much this has been out there, but Sartini will genuinely be among the candidates for the full-time role, per sources https://t.co/mzTCFlFO5Y
What did you think of the big home win? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!