Welcome back to the report card everyone.
Boy, this one was certainly a roller-coaster ride. Although the match eventually ended in a 2-2 draw, there were moments throughout on Saturday where both the Vancouver Whitecaps and Toronto FC looked like the much better team on the pitch, as well as moments where it seemed assured each would go away with all three points.
At the end of the day, victory escaped both sides, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t plenty to talk about, especially on the Whitecaps front. First, we’ll break down the individual player grades. Then, at the end, I’ll give out my grade for the coaching staff, as well as my general thoughts on the match.
Ok, let’s get into it:
Maxime Crepeau (4.0)
It was a tough day out for Max. His distribution was poor throughout, and he looked a bit out to lunch on TFC’s first goal. What’s been quite unusual is how uncomfortable Max has looked commanding his box, both in this match and the pre-season fixture against Chicago. Typically, Max’s command of his area has been one of his strengths as a keeper, so hopefully he can regain that confidence.
Jake Nerwinski (3.0)
I’ve stood out and defended Jake’s performances in the past, but I can’t ignore this one. In particular, Nerwinski’s suspect positioning at the back became evident during Jacob Shaffelburg’s 30 minute stint for TFC. The young Canadian menaced Nerwinski down the attacking left side, and it was puzzling to see Jake tucking so far inside, leaving miles of space for TFC players to roam free. Overall, Nerwinski looked shaky, and despite having the second most touches of any player on the Whitecaps, at 61, he produced 0 shot-creating actions for Vancouver.
Ranko Veselinovic (5.5)
Ranko can be a really difficult player to evaluate at times. Despite looking a bit suspect in space, he actually did quite a decent job statistically in 1 v. 1 situations, and always racks up a good amount of blocks, tackles and clearances. That being said his efficiency in terms of passing, aerial duels and tackling still leaves a lot of room for improvement. After a really impressive showing against the Timbers, this was definitely a step back towards last year for the CB pairing.
Andy Rose (6.0)
No tackles and no interceptions is a bit of a strange stat-line for a CB. That being said, he did manage to bag a nice goal off of a set piece, and he definitely has shown to have that ability in the locker. The second TFC goal was a bit of bad luck, but as Andy pointed out post match, better distribution on his part could have prevented that scenario from ever taking place. All in all, a mixed bag, I wonder who (if anyone) Derek Cornelius will replace next weekend.
Cristian Gutierrez (8.5)
Another start, another MOTM performance for Guti. The young Canadian is currently making the absolute most of Ali Adnan’s absence, showing exactly what he can do as a complete fullback. In addition to the set piece assist, Guti went toe to toe with another top Canadian fullback in Richie Laryea, and more than held his own. He led VWFC in touches with 65, completed 9 progressive passes (5 of which were into the final third), and won three tackles (the most of any VWFC player) defensively. Top drawer stuff.
Russell Teibert (5.5)
Teibert does a great job making space for Guti down the left hand side of the pitch, but I’m not sure that on its own is worthy of a starting spot. He did play two nice crosses into the box, and believe it or not, he finished second on VWFC in progressive passes with 7. That being said, if you looked at the total distance his passes travelled, it’s less than any Whitecaps player who isn’t a forward, so Rusty giveth and taketh away, I guess. I’d like to see Caio take up that inverted left winger role next match, much like we saw In-Beom play in some of his best showings for the club.
Janio Bikel (6.5)
Janio had 4 interceptions to lead VWFC and overall just did a really nice job cleaning things up in midfield. He’s never going to blow you away with his passing numbers but he did a good job keeping Nick DeLeon and the rest of the TFC midfield in check.
Michael Baldisimo (6.5)
As per usual, Baldi led VWFC in total distance of passes completed, as well as long passes (going 13 for 17). That being said, it wasn’t his best day in terms of efficiency, but some of that was down to how the Whitecaps ended up playing. Due to TFC’s setup, the real focus offensively was to feed the fullbacks and create through wide areas, which left Baldi playing almost as a cover fullback at times, or a very very deep lying playmaker. I’ll be interested to see how (or if) his role changes as Caio Alexandre is integrated into the lineup.
Deiber Caicedo (7.0)
After a solid but not particularly spectacular debut, we saw a lot more of what the young Colombian was about in this one. He really frustrated Michael Bradley defensively, and I was impressed at how the youngster used his low centre of gravity to his advantage in 1 v. 1’s. Offensively, although it wasn’t perfect, he did lead the team in shots on target with 2, and also in progressive carries with 10, five more than any other VWFC player.
Cristian Dajome (8.0)
This performance could also be a MOTM shout. Dajome not only scored from the spot, but also created the chance in the first place with his quick thinking to play the free kick immediately in to Cavallini. Dajome completed three successful dribbles, and received 12 progressive passes, double that of any other Whitecaps player, he was definitely the straw which stirred the drink amongst the front three for Vancouver.
Lucas Cavallini (7.0)
Cava created the opening goal for Vancouver with some very uncharacteristic dribbling skills. He also played a wonderful ball in to Ryan Raposo which could have sealed victory for the Caps, another surprising moment from the striker. He’s never going to fill up the stats sheet in terms of passing and efficiency numbers, but the front man certainly has a knack for creating goals, and although he didn’t score, he continues to produce for Vancouver.
Caio Alexandre (75th Minute)
I’m not giving out grades for any of these subs because there’s not a lot of data, or playing time, to go on. Overall, Caio looked like the smooth operator in midfield we all expected, even if he only had 10 touches.
Bruno Gaspar (87th Minute)
Just 5 touches for Gaspar, but he did manage to have 2 tackles in his short stint. Hopefully he’s ready to start next weekend.
Derek Cornelius (87th Minute)
It’s great to see DC back from injury, with Godoy seemingly perma-injured, the club desperately needs the added depth. Just two touches, but one really important tackle/clearance in there for the Canadian which was a crucial intervention.
Ryan Raposo (94th Minute)
Oh, what could have been. The young super-draft pick recorded his first professional shot on one of Vancouver’s best chances from open play so far this year. Could he have done more with the shot? Maybe, but it was a nice save by Bono. Here’s to hoping we don’t have to wait as long for Ryan’s 2nd MLS shot.
Marc Dos Santos (6.0)
In my mind at least, the initial set-up for this match was the right one. Dos Santos’ fluid 4-4-2 left lots of room for his team to exploit TFC’s deficiencies and lack of cohesion on the flanks, and it really worked for good spans of time throughout the match. In terms of the defensive errors, it’s really hard to tell how much of that is on the coaching staff. Yes, it’s your job to work on set pieces and organization, but sometimes when players just don’t execute, there’s very little you can do.
Once again though, MDS was slow to react with his tactical adjustments in the second half. We saw Chris Armas bring on Osorio, Altidore and Shaffelburg in the 61st minute, and from that moment onwards, TFC looked like the much better team, especially after going down 2-1 off a set piece. I continue to be puzzled by Dos Santos’ refusal to use his subs around the sixty minute mark, and this usually goes hand in hand with his tactics devolving into holding on for dear life inside the final 15 minutes of matches. Why were Teibert and Nerwinski left on for a full 90+?
If the tactics were wrong to begin with, that would be one thing, but the fact that Vancouver sets up in the right way, and then fails to adjust or bring in fresh legs during the latter stages of matches is really frustrating to me.
All in all, it’s tough to decide whether this match was two points lost or one point gained. But what do you think?
As always, sound off with your thoughts about individual performances, and the coaching, in the comments!