As the world is focusing on the highs of international competition, one could be forgiven for forgetting that MLS was resuming this weekend. For many, it may be hard to come back to watching North America’s flagship league after watching three or more games of high level European and South American soccer. Not to mention the Canadian team doing wonders in World Cup qualifying as well could be enough celebration for fans watching from Vancouver. Those who did tune in to watch deserve respect for what looked like a dour affair from the first half. While it did pick up in the second, the last minutes of the game is where everything unraveled and the Whitecaps streak of playoff missing seasons seems to be continuing uninterrupted.
- Set piece woes! The Whitecaps, at least in the first half, looked to be off their game in this strategy that was working so well for them. Set piece after set piece went nowhere and rendered potential quality attacks useless. The rotation of the multiple free kick takers didn’t instill much hope in a strategy being applied when a free kick was awarded. Maybe the price for a non-setpiece goal from the previous game was an inability to do them effectively after that.
- Rusty ineffective attacks. While the number 31 wasn’t on the field today until close to the end, the team in their play during the first half was definitely rusty. Was not a pretty sight to see and just oozed of a team that spent the weeks off keeping themselves on low gear. It may have been the weather, or the home crowd getting to them, but the first half was hardly inspiring.
- This truly was match of attrition. Yellow cards and fouls galore from the onset, Brown got the party started only three minutes into the match. Both teams were chopping each other down pretty aggressively and ended attacks with force. Lots of players were rolling on the floor in both halves and you could just see an injury taking at least a couple of players out. There probably should have been more yellow cards shown but either way, it was a brutal watch for each side. Gutierrez probably got it the worst out of any Whitecap, having to be subbed off due to the rough tackle he received at the end of the game. Here’s to hoping it isn’t anything serious because the Whitecaps are currently already down three wingbacks.
- Brian White got a debut goal! His performance was pretty middling, as he looked to fit the profile of a substitute Cavallini. The problem with that is that the service issues continue despite a change in who was starting up top. While his touch may have left a lot to be desired, maybe trying both him and Cavallini up top could be an interesting experiment to try further in the season.
- This game was one of two halves - and a final ten minutes. As said before, the match in the first half was negative, with RSL pushing forwards in multiple attacks and Whitecaps squandering their offensive opportunities. The goal right before half time was a gut punch on top of everything and one could have expected a classic Whitecaps collapse due to demoralization. Interestingly enough though, the Whitecaps played a much better second half, using their possession well and pushing into dangerous territory in the RSL half multiple times. Unluckily though, the last ten minutes of the game is where the moral collapse happened. Despite MDS’ best efforts to keep the game at a solid, if unimpressive draw, the tactical changes led to miscommunication on a throw in and the aforementioned collapse to come at a point where many felt safe from it.
If I could use one word to describe the loss today, it’d definitely be numbness. I think of the attendance numbers that the team receives (Which puts them in the top 10 for attendance across the league) and can’t help but feel a lot of squandered potential. The team looks to be on the same trajectory it has been on since 2018 with no end in sight. At this point, the excuses are wearing thin. Bad coach? New coach? First full season as coach? First full season with proper signings? First season outside of a worldwide soccer shutdown? I assume this season will probably be the “Bad results due to being away from home” season. The team needs to turn its fortunes around quickly, as stories revolving around multiple failed offers for number 10s due to the lack of competitiveness of the team continue to haunt them.
I’ve already said, the Whitecaps have a good roster of players per se - except that most of the players starting for them would be solid depth pieces in the modern MLS that is being played. There is a higher standard that this team needs to reach. To take some positives out of today’s game, at least the Gold Cup will provide an opportunity for the roster to be shuffled around a bit and find some diamonds in the rough ala Baldisimo and Hasal?
What did you think about today’s match? Sound off in the comments below.