The Vancouver Whitecaps find themselves in a curious position as the 2021 MLS season reaches its climax. In a turbulent Western Conference where every spot between 4th place and 10th can drastically change in a couple of games, the Whitecaps occupy the final playoff spot (Albeit RSL able to overtake them as they have a game in hand). Not to mention, each of the last four games are grueling in their own right, with San Jose, Minnesota, and LAFC all vying for a spots in playoffs themselves before finishing up with Seattle on what could be a make it or break it day. As such, its crucial to take points where possible as any dropped could be disastrous. With such a condensed schedule, taking on San Jose in a match after a tough midweek clash in Portland one could have expected the Whitecaps to take it easy and conserve energy for their penultimate home game. That is exactly what happened, and although having a lively display, they only got managed to take a point from the game.
- As much credit needs to be given to the attack for the Whitecaps’ recent run of form, you have to also acknowledge that behind that attack is a defense that protects arguably the Whitecaps’ crown jewel in Maxime Crepeau. Max didn’t have too many saves to make on the night, but when he did, they proved to be key to keeping the Whitecaps with a point during a game that was more about absorbing attacks than going on the offensive.
- Speaking of defending, Dajome was given the duty of filling in on the flank in a more defensive role than he usually has. He had an alright display on Saturday, which could have been solid were it not for some errant positioning leading to the equalizer. Dajome definitely has the technical abilities to be able to become a solid option in that position, and at times he seemed very comfortable tracking back and preventing attacks instead of creating them. He needs to iron out the small tweaks in his defensive game in order to fill the versatile role best suited for this team.
- On the other side of the field, Bruno Gaspar had his best game as a Whitecap, which admittedly wasn’t at too high of a standard, but getting the opening goal away from home definitely doesn’t hurt. Unfortunately I think it’s too late to change his fate unless he were to have a hot streak that continued into playoffs, but it was nice to see a glimpse of the player the Whitecaps thought they bought over from Portugal.
- Fatigue was more evident in the midfield, as the Whitecaps took a step back in possession to contain the game as best they could. No one played particularly above what was expected of them, which is unfortunate as when the Whitecaps did have a break and went forwards, you could see potential for more there. It’s not a terrible loss, as at least the Whitecaps got the point on the night, but a win would have gone a long way. Hopefully more action will be seen at the game against Minnesota so the subdued nature of this game at least was for something.
Again, I don’t know how I could summarize the game better than “It’s alright but we could maybe have done more”. While before, low possession games with the opponent dictating play were stressful at best and horrid at worst, the game yesterday felt like an exciting fixture, like there was a method to the counter attack madness. It was a missed opportunity to sink San Jose lower and raise us up closer to the promised land of guaranteed playoffs, but it could have definitely ended a lot worse. If anything it shows the players are able to pull off a performance in a game that would be a write-off due to two important matches being around it. I believe the real impact of this game will be seen once the season is over, but for now it’s just a fixture that allows the Whitecaps to continue on their road to postseason glory.
What do you think the impact of this game will be at the end of the season? Feel free to sound off in the comments below.