Riding high from last week’s monumental victory over their Cascadian Rivals, the Whitecaps looked to build upon their performance as the pieces of their team slowly fall into place. Starting with the same lineup as the week prior could have been disappointing, but the options off the bench were vastly improved, and some looked more appealing than those who started on the field. The match today could have held an asterisk, due to Toronto having an important CONCACAF Champions League tie against Cruz Azul midweek and wanting to take things easy, and truth be told, the Reds were for the most part following this trend, at least until late in the second half. Why was that? Well, the Whitecaps had found themselves ahead through an Andy Rose header and a Cristian Dajome penalty, which should have been enough to see them through, but a defensive lapse in the box caused Toronto to score an unfortunate equalizer and give us the final score of 2-2.
The Whitecaps could have jumped to the top of the standings with this victory (Obviously it’s week 2, but that hasn’t been a feeling that ‘Caps fans have felt in a while so it would have been a nice change.) but now they are going to have to take this performance and build upon it further as they face Colorado next week. Let’s hope there aren’t any unforeseen factors that cause the season to be halted for two months before that this time.
- The Whitecaps seem to be finding an identity! These past two games could have been a fluke, but it was nice to see the Whitecaps maintain possession and leave their half for an appropriate amount of time during the game. The questionable tactical choices many may have had can be put on less of an alert as the reinforcements begin to come into play. It’s a pretty positive way of play, but it seems that what needs to be worked on is shooting effectively.
- Speaking of which, it is a tiny bit concerning to see that the only goals the Whitecaps have scored this season have been off set pieces. Full credit to Andy Rose and Dajome for their goals, and for Cavallini for drawing the penalty, though. Set piece plays were always a problem for ‘Caps teams of the past so if anything, having this part of their game covered already means that it can be a reliable option to score goals from as they slowly learn to create opportunities on open play.
- The performers of the previous game continued their runs of form, with Caicedo making good runs, Dajome showing his dangerous forward presence, Cavallini being Cavallini, and Teibert filling his role as part of the team perfectly. There weren’t any glaring areas of the pitch in which the Whitecaps looked completely unmatched and the possession stats indicate as much.
- So good he deserves his own point, Gutierrez by now for sure has shown the defensive qualities that many saw his potential reaching once he signed for the team. Impressing both defensively and offensively, Adnan is in for some stiff competition once he returns, and maybe, this could be a sign that the Whitecaps could be able to free up DP slot for another attacking threat or a midfield marshal.
- The substitutions made by Marc Dos Santos were confusing in terms of how he would adjust his formation, but for those that hit the field, they did their part and put in solid, if unremarkable performances. Caio Alexandre and Bruno Gaspar got their first minutes of action, and Cornelius hit the field for the first time since his injury with the Canadian Olympic Team. Late game sub Ryan Raposo came within a centimeter off shot that almost gave the Whitecaps the victory they so desired.
- Toronto FC looked to be dictating this game as they struck early on, but that never seemed to be the case. Whether that be because they were resting themselves before the important game next week, or that the players were just not able to do so, the Whitecaps took advantage of this complacent playstyle. Still missing talisman Alejandro Pozuelo, Toronto had a bench filled with stars waiting to hit the field. Altidore, Osorio, Akinola, Shaffleburg, Endoh, and Westberg were just a few of the names that one could expect to see lining up against Cruz Azul on Wednesday. Credit where credit is due though, the young players who have been filling in for the regulars have been doing a stellar job at it. Luke Singh, Noble Okello, and Jayden Nelson should be names which many around the MLS should be poised to hear this upcoming season.
Honestly, I am quite pleased with the direction that the Whitecaps have been shaping towards these past few games. If these strong performances continue (And my bar for strong performances is just keeping possession over 45% and leaving our own third for more than 3 times each game, so it’s relatively achievable.) I’ll be glad to hop onto the Marc Dos Santos hype train and be fully aligned with his vision. It seems that the team has some belief that was missing last season and the one before, so let’s hope that this belief isn’t a one time shatter that leads to dour performances once we get handed our first loss. Honestly, a push for the Voyageur’s Cup this season is not out of the question, likewise, playoffs don’t seem like an out-and-out pipe dream, but I’ve been hurt before so I’ll stick to my predicted finish of 9th.
The team looks like it could give anyone some difficulty and shake some victories along the way with the current personnel that they have, so hearing the rumours that a #10 may not be as far away as initially thought gets my mind racing at the potential ceiling of this team. Again, I’m trying to temper my expectations and keep them realistic, but the team feels solid, and a good addition to it could raise it to the next level completely.
What did you think about today’s match? Is it a good omen? Was it a fluke? Sound off in the comments below.