It wasn’t the result the Vancouver Whitecaps wanted, but how can you say no to more points on the road? As beguiling as a second win in a week would have been, particularly with the potential playoff cushioning the accompanying points a win would afford, last night’s draw away to San Jose Earthquakes will certainly make do.
A draw wasn’t the perfect cap to a week that saw the Whitecaps climb above the line, particularly when so many Western Conference clubs vying for the remaining playoff spots faltered on Saturday, but it was still a reasonable road effort that no one on Vancouver would turn away.
As always, a “5” in our player critique is meant to represent the averagest of average play for a player to have made. The kind of job that’s expected of you, that evokes the kind of sentiment you feel when you’re not sure if you should tip the waitstaff the amount you normally would before realizing yes, of course you should tip the regular amount and not end up looking like that ass Mr. Pink.
Max Crepeau - 6.5
More active than what “two saves on three shots on target” would suggest, as Crepeau did well to knock down and get in front of all sorts crosses played across the goal mouth.
And on the ones he misread? There’s something to be said about recovering quick enough to steal the ball off the goal line before Chris Wondolowski could score the kind of poacher’s goal on which he’s built his career.
Of the three shots on target, the first was a fantastic reaction save, the second a no-reaction goal off a rocket of a Benjamin Kikanovic volley from, and the third an easily-read, low bounder from distance.
Florian Jungwirth - 7.5
Jungwirth beasted his former club last night. Strong in the air, knocked down everything in front of him, and disrupting the attacking Earthquake players every chance he got. Even Crepeau’s pounce to stop Wondo came as a result of Jungwirth partially blocking the initial shot with an outstretched leg. He was never not trying to stay involved with the play.
The sole gripe for Jungwirth in my notes? His volleys were occasionally a little too strong, whether it was a one-touch pass out of the air to a teammate or an attempt to control the ball for himself. That’s it: an infrequent heavy touch on already difficult-to-play balls.
Jungwirth also gets props for maintaining an ongoing spat throughout the game with Cristian Espinoza that later transferred over to Cade Cowell. The right kind of off the ball, contentious chicanery and piss-taking made to unnerve the Earthquakes’ attackers.
Ranko Veselinovic - 6
Recovered from an early positioning brain fart, which left Jeremy Ebobisse far too open to one-time a shot at Crepeau, to put in a pretty decent defensive performance. After the first five minutes, Ranko was quality when quickly closing down attackers and clearing out everything in front of him. Finished with eight clearances, three blocked shots, two tackles and two interceptions.
Erik Godoy - 5.5
A little more subdued defensively that his regular relaxed self, but fairly solid regardless. Initially, I was worried that San Jose would spend a lot of time trying to round Godoy and earn the end line before slotting passes across the box, but those efforts were few and far between and mostly stifled without too much trouble. It was also encouraging to see Godoy join the attack every so often, particularly when he chose to do so only when it made sense.
Between Godoy, Ranko, and Jungwirth, the Vancouver back line did a great job at making it difficult for San Jose to achieve almost anything inside the penalty area.
Cristian Dajome - 5.5
Generally tracked back well to help out defensively, except for that one time there was a glaring, goal-scoring issue. His passing was solid, particularly on long balls, and his one shot on target forced a big save out of JT Marcinkowski, but the amount of space he allowed Kikanovic on the San Jose goal is still bothering me. When you’re the defending wide guy, you kind of need to know where the attacking wide guy is coming from.
Leo Owusu - 4
A bit of a drop in his recent performance. Put in a decent workman’s effort, even if it meant committing the most fouls on the pitch or getting turned around at the onset of the San Jose equalizer. Passing was reasonable, though Owusu didn’t have the ball as often as a CM ideally should, and his touch was a bit heavy when trying to carry.
Russell Teibert - 5
Made his usual smart passes, but once again they were much further up the pitch! Another match where Teibert has been far more omnidirectional than what we’ve seen in the past. At the hour mark, however, Teibert seemingly disappeared. He had the most touches for Vancouver last night, but 82% percent of those came before the 58th minute. I have a feeling the quick turnaround from Portland left Teibert with heavy legs by the end of Saturday night.
Bruno Gaspar - 7.5
The goal notwithstanding, this was Gaspar’s best match for Vancouver to date, buoyed primarily by how quickly he would react to the play unfolding in front of him. If the front three were pressing, he’d react in kind and make life difficult for the defender in front of him, both before and after swapping sides with Cristian Dajome. It was that kind of quick reacting that allowed him to roof the big rebound conceded by Marcinkowski. That, and Espinoza not having interest in tracking his mark.
Subsequently, Gaspar also inspired what in my opinion was the Tweet of the Night:
Rock the Gaspar!— Jonathan (@lojdvancouver) October 24, 2021
Ryan Gauld - 5.5
Arguably quiet, I suppose? I mean, his balls towards and into the San Jose penalty area were smart and the right kind of probing, even if no one was latching on to them or they were debatably less accurate than usual. Still, a respectable performance nonetheless.
Deiber Caicedo - 4
I could easily be wrong, but similar to Teibert I think Caicedo was burnt out after having gone the full 90 in Portland on Wednesday. He started out as his usual high energy, high pressing self, having no issue tracking back defensively, but there was an exponential drop-off in his decision making. He was never afraid to go for the dribble, which is fine in and of itself, but not when doing so isolates himself and a loss of possession neutralizes a promising attack.
I also wasn’t a fan of his free kick at the 28th minute, which may come across as nit-picking, but is exemplary of Caicedo’s attack-first tunnel vision on the night. The shot at the net wasn’t the best, but that’s not what was disappointing: it was ignoring a lurking, unmarked Godoy on the far side of the penalty area. A ball across the face of the six to a crashing centerback would have been amazing in that spot.
Brian White - 6.5
I thought he did well to front Tanner Beason for most of the night, staying between the ball and the defender on most passes played in to him. And when there was space to move to? Well, he moved to it! I’ll always appreciate a striker who will create that extra room to operate in the build up of a play.
Although he won’t be credited for an assist, the control he had in the build to Gaspar’s goal was superb, cradling Godoy’s cross into Gauld’s feet before firing the return pass and forcing Marcinkowski into spilling a big rebound:
Lucas Cavallini - 5
Came on for Caicedo at 62’. Cavallini was solid in forcing players off the ball in the center of the park. The downside? He usually did so in the literal center of the park. Not the best location to sometimes opt for the turn to run with the ball, rather than find a passing outlet. And when he would lay it off? That’s how White’s breakout at 78’ started. I’m not saying he shouldn’t turn with the ball when he’s won it, but there are certain parts of the pitch where it makes less sense to do so.
Michael Baldisimo - 4.5
Came on for Owusu at 62’. Helped keep the Vancouver formation in tact when San Jose began to press over the final third of the match. Looked a little pensive defensively, but was a decent enough disruptor in the center.
Javain Brown - 5
Came on for Dajome at 70‘. Instantly a big plus at closing down defenders when the ‘Caps began to bunker. Good at reading the flight of the ball and disrupting anything played across the middle. Offensively, I would have liked to have seen less telegraphed crosses from Brown. Make things uncomfortable for the defender before whipping the ball in; otherwise, a clumsy leg can still block your pass.
Jake Nerwinski - Inc.
Came on for Godoy at 85’. Helped cement the backline to secure the draw, particularly in a stop of Ebibosse in added time that could have.
Ryan Raposo - Inc.
Came on for Gauld at 85’. Not a lot for him in the final five & added minutes. His passing was OK, but the thought of that loss of possession in the center of the park is going to linger.
But what do you think? Did I rate someone like Jungwirth too high? Someone like Caicedo too low? And what score would you give Sartini for the subs made and their timing? Let us know in the comments below!