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Report Card: 90 Minutes, No Shots on Target

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Was there anything worth breaking down from the Whitecaps’ 0-0 draw with Houston? We aim to find out.

MLS: Houston Dynamo at Vancouver Whitecaps FC Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

The Vancouver Whitecaps aren’t always an easy team to watch, but usually, they at least make you feel something.

Tuesday night, as the Vancouver Whitecaps and Houston Dynamo slogged their way to a 0-0 draw at Rio Tinto Stadium, I felt little other than apathy and boredom.

I have to be honest, if not for my compulsion to cover this team, I might have flipped the channel.

Even so, I will admit I had a second screen going during the match as I watched Giannis Antetokounmpo help deliver the Milwaukee Bucks their first NBA title in 50 years. It was a special moment, and although I have very little personally invested in basketball, it moved me far more than anything I saw in this Whitecaps match.

When I think of ways to encapsulate my attitude towards the match on Tuesday night, one particular moment comes to mind: Marshawn Lynch’s famous “I’m just here so I don’t get fined”

Much like Marshawn, it felt like I was going through the motions on Tuesday night, watching the Vancouver Whitecaps because I had to, and not because I wanted to.

I don’t want to feel this way about the Whitecaps, and I’m sure many of you out there share that same sentiment. But when there’s only a singular shot on target (combined) between two struggling teams over the course of 90+ minutes of MLS Soccer, sometimes it just can’t be helped.

To spare us all the agony, this report card will be brief, so let’s dive into the ratings:

Thomas Hasal (7.0) : It wasn’t a busy night for the youngster, but he seems to have settled into the starting spot and is looking more and more confident between the sticks.

Jake Nerwinski (7.5) : The New Jersey native was my man of the match, he was sharp defensively (6 clearances, 3 interceptions) and his passing was tidy (86%).

Ranko Veselinovic (6.5) : It’s nice to see Ranko back in the lineup, with Cornelius out of the picture, the Whitecaps need to do everything they can to make him a weekly starter.

Andy Rose (6.0) : Slotted in due to squad rotation, Rose put in a professional showing. His passing, especially on longer balls, is underwhelming (5/13 in this match).

Cristian Gutierrez (7.0) : Guti did his best to create down the left but struggled to do so with any efficiency (not entirely his fault). He also showed off great technique on the free kick where he hit the woodwork, as well as the chipped cross that three Whitecaps players failed to touch unmarked in front of goal.

Janio Bikel (5.0) : Only having 43 touches over the course of 90+ minutes is a concern. Equally, passing at just 78% is far from ideal.

Michael Baldisimo (6.0) : Baldi was decent overall but doesn't seem to be thriving in this system the way he did early on in the year with the 4-4-2 where he sat deep between the centrebacks.

Russell Teibert (5.0) : The captain was alright in this one, but his lack of progressive movement and attacking instinct remains a severe limitation to this midfield.

Cristian Dajome (5.5) : The offensive leader tried his best to create in this one, but with very little success, he completed just one of his eight crosses (12.5%).

Brian White (2.0) : The recent addition has a habit of always being a step or two away from the end of a dangerous ball. He struggles to play at the pace of the Colombian wingers, and his off-ball movement provides little attacking threat on its own. Meanwhile, David Egbo is lighting it up in the USL, and Theo Bair is plastered to the bench.

Deiber Caicedo (6.0) : It wasn’t his best showing as of late, but the youngster has been one of the club’s best players over the last few matches.

Subs

Caio Alexandre (6.0) : Unless he’s still struggling with fitness, it’s hard to understand how Caio isn’t starting in the midfield.

Tosaint Ricketts (N/A) : Only 5 touches but great to see him back on the pitch after all that he’s dealt with this year.

Patrick Metcalfe (N/A) : It was another small sample size, but Pat looked comfortable yet again, this might have been a good opportunity to have started him with the short rest.

Coaching

Marc Dos Santos (3.0) : Sure, it’s a point gained, but if you want to make the playoffs, you have to take advantage of these kinds of matchups.

It looks as though the Whitecaps’ second half success against the Galaxy was indeed down to their opponents’ ineptitude rather than a tactical masterstroke, just as we feared.

This team is 14 matches into their season, and they’re still only capable of scoring (sometimes) from set pieces, counter-attacks, and individual defensive errors by the other team. It’s hard to make the playoffs, or try to sell tickets, when that is your calling card.

What did you think of this match, as well as my grades, let me know in the comments section!