Well, it was only a matter of time before this happened. Following a positive performance midweek against Minnesota United that unfortunately ended in a loss, many Whitecaps fans could have hoped that the trend of improving performances would continue. While midweek at times the team looked to be the best the team had played in years, the performance today was reminiscent of listless performances from last year and the awful 2019 season. From the offset, the Whitecaps played that familiar low possession, own third game plan that annoyed fans, completely going against what they have been expecting after the first number of games this season. It was an interesting lineup to begin with, as Raposo, Nerwinski, and Cornelius were starting over Teibert, Gaspar, and Rose respectively. It was odd to see the 2020 draft pick in the starting lineup, and it seemed to be part of a gamble that wasn’t paying off, as he was subbed off around thirty minutes in to put in Baldisimo once it was 2-0.
Through most of the game, it was complete domination by Sporting Kansas City, as their players seemed to have the answer to whatever questions the Whitecaps posed them. That’s also not to mention that the Whitecaps gave confidence to a Sporting team with a shaky spirit as their start to the season was identical to that of the ‘Caps.
- Tactically the Whitecaps looked to not be up to the challenge today. Whether that be due to exhaustion or whatever other factor, whatever the gameplan was did not pay off the way Marc Dos Santos intended. This was made readily apparent by the fact that the formation was changed from a 4-4-2 to a 4-3-3 within the first half hour or so, due to the team having conceded two goals.
- As a result of this, most of the Whitecap’s attacking threat was mute today, with very little to put on for the highlight reels. Cavallini got stuck in to multiple tackles and the Colombian duo of Caicedo and Dajome missed some pretty open sitters, but outside of that, these attackers were relegated to defensive duty as the ball was rarely passing the halfway line.
- Defensively it wasn’t much better. The astute and assured defending seen in the Minnesota game was completely missing, with many players looking like they did not know how to effectively mark the opposing players, something very well done in the previous match. The mess at the back led to two early goals as a result of bad marking and tackling. (Even though the penalty may have been dubious at best.)
- That’s not to take away from the strong performance of the Whitecaps’ goalkeeper- although that’s going to be followed by an asterisk considering the final score line. Crépeau made more than a handful of acrobatic saves that prevented the Whitecaps’ dignity to be punished any further, and continued to be a strong performer despite the goals that got past him. One has to feel for the Canadian shot-stopper, who seemed to be more on his game than some of his teammates.
- The substitutions were ineffective but were good to see, as the young players got an opportunity to hit the field. This would be awesome to see more often, but one has to wonder if the only times that MDS will be making those sorts of substitutions will be on assured victories or losses.
- Credit where it’s due, Sporting Kansas City continued their strong home performances against Canadian opposition. Their big worry recently has been on the defensive end, which seemed relatively sturdy today.
Oh man do I have... not that much to say actually. On Wednesday I accidentally wrote an entire post-match for the Minnesota game before quickly realizing that I was on Report Card duty and fixing my article accordingly. In that article (Probably published in some alternate universe somewhere.) I had talked about how impressed I had been with the Whitecaps consistently continuing to improve and learning from their mistakes. The defensive marking and overall setup just seemed a far cry from what the Whitecaps were used to doing, and an all-out attack on the opposition’s net was just the cherry on top. I honestly thought the Whitecaps were going in a new and promising direction.
The match today cruelly brought me down to my cynical self. It was a bad match, sure, so many things went wrong- but the worst part is that it wasn’t the entertaining kind of bad where you can get mad at the teams performance, rather it was the boring kind of bad where the teamed has failed at the same basic principle so many times that it’s not surprising to be let down anymore. The classic Whitecaps flaws were all there, and there’s no point beating a dead horse, so an explanation of what they are would be redundant.
To grab a silver lining through this though, I think that the team is good enough to get some results and pose multiple attacking threats, there just seems to be an air of confidence that is lacking overall from the team. There seems to be frustration sometimes up top, and the attackers that come in don’t look like they’re ready to be the difference, which they very well can be. It doesn’t help that the Whitecaps’ attacking substitutions usually come with less than 20-15 minutes left two play, leaving the confidence of forwards who performed well at practice to be lower than were they to be subbed on earlier (As would indicate trust from the coach.) . It’s no secret that the front line of the Whitecaps is very thin, and that those on the bench aren’t the most skilled, but continuing to limit the opportunities and development of the other available players is just making them more of ‘non-options’ with every second missed.
I hope that wasn’t too negative, because even though this week may have been disappointing as a Whitecaps fan, I think this season could still have some pleasant surprises left in them.(Please be a #10)
What did you think about today’s match? Are we to expect more of this? Was it a fluke? Is this the last loss before their season spanning unbeaten run to the MLS Cup? Sound off in the comments below!