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Post Match: Caps sneak point against Minnesota United from late penalty

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MLS: Minnesota United FC at Vancouver Whitecaps FC Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

Well that was interesting, eh?

A generally bland match gave way to a chaotic final 90 seconds, after Cristian Dajome won and then converted (an admittedly soft) penalty to earn the Caps a 2-2 draw and extend the unbeaten streak to four matches.

Major Takeaways

The press giveth, the press taketh away

It was disappointing the Caps didn’t create more clear cut chances off their hard work in the first half but they worked harder for a longer period of time than we are used to. Brian White, while still disappointing in many facets of the game, was top drawer at initiating the press. Cristian Dajome was also buzzing

The downside of all this is the Caps faded hard in the last half hour of the game. It didn’t look like a tactical change so much as a team which crashed and burned in terms of their energy levels. The second goal is the perfect example of a team which went from working Minnesota and controlling possession to themselves being unable to get the ball out of their own half. Conceding under those circumstances was certainly inevitable, especially given as sloppy of a turnover as the Caps gifted the Loons ahead of Robin Lod’s fine finish.

What will a new look mean for the Caps?

It was impossible not to watch this match without imagining how Ryan Gauld would have changed things. The Caps liked to have Guti or the wingers bomb forward but then cut it back for a late runner at the top of the box. This led to a fair few chances — but generally lower percentage shots or an attempt at the killer through ball that was intercepted. One wonders what a more adept passer/creater would have done with some of the fruits of the press in the first half.

This match pretty well epitomized the need for a creative attacking midfielder to link up play. I mean look at this heat map ...

The penalty

Yeah OK, I think we can all agree that wasn’t a penalty right? Nonetheless, credit Dajome for forcing the issue and what was generally some pretty good build up in the five minute span before Lukask Szpala pointed to the spot. And credit to Dajome — whether the injury came on the foul or during his run up, he had a picture perfect finish on what was in effect the last kick of the match. Minnesota United will feel hard done but Vancouver fans probably won’t be all that fussed and while the Loons controlled the second half, I feel like a point is probably fair for both sides from this one (though maybe that’s my homerism showing).

Personal Thoughts

  • Dajome’s passing remains mired in a dip in form but everything else was picture perfect from the Colombian. Perhaps the Caps could find a more technically adept winger but it is hard to imagine them finding a harder working one — he helped make that press sing in the first half. His energy resulted in multiple Loons players getting booked to boot.
  • Ironic that two guys (White and Teibert) who have been largely black holes offensively linked up so well on the Dajome goal.
  • Was a brutal goal to concede on the stroke of half time and one in hindsight that changed the game. Was a good bit of build up for Minnesota but Ranko and Godoy made it too easy for Ethan Finlay to get free. When Adrian Heath made a half time sub, it really helped them ride the wave of momentum into a second half where the Caps just didn’t make the needed adjustments.
  • The Caps need to a whole week of training just on defending set pieces because they’re still good for conceding at least one heart attack inducing corner or free kick per match.
  • Thought it was a decent game for Nerwinski defensively but the gap between him and Javain Brown was clear when Brown came on and created two chances going forward after Jake offered very little offensively in this game. Makes you wonder why Bruno Gaspar and Brown were both left on the bench.
  • Credit to MDS for nailing the subs, however late they may have came. Gave the Caps just enough of a push to get them a point in the end.
  • Thought Ranko had a good match mopping up some chances but man was this a brutal match in terms of aerial duels otherwise. It wasn’t a core part of Minnesota’s second half success but it is something the Caps will need to clean up.
  • Dajome scoring a later equalizer and then immediately going down holding his knee seems like a) a metaphor and b) a really bad sign for the Caps. Hoping Cristian is on the mend quickly.

Man of the Match

This was a pretty easy one. Aside from converting both of the Caps’ goals, Cristian Dajome was generally the teams’ most dangerous player and its hardest worker. I didn’t see the Colombian maintaining his goal scoring pace but he more or less has and barring some sort of serious injury, he seems likely to benefit from Gauld’s arrival as much as anyone.