A point gained or two points lost? It really depends on your perspective.
More importantly, it might depend on what the Vancouver Whitecaps are able to produce in their upcoming matches.
After a 1-1 draw in Colorado on Sunday night, Vancouver is rolling into a stretch of three games in seven days which has them facing off against three of the four teams below them in the Western Conference playoff race.
If they are able to produce some big points in those matches, a road draw against Colorado looks pretty good. If not, well, the Whitecaps weren’t going to make the playoffs anyways.
What made this match frustrating was that the Rapids were far from dominant, and most of the chances the Whitecaps gave up were self-inflicted. Despite the coaching change, some of the old habits of this team are having a hard time going away: slow starts, poor set-piece marking, movement in the final third, etc.
Yes, overall it’s been better under Vanni Sartini, but clearly there’s still a good bit of work left to do. Right now, I think the standings are a pretty fair reflection of where the Vancouver Whitecaps are at: a fringe playoff team with some upside that could make some noise if they’re able to go on a late season run.
Ok, let’s dive into the grades:
Maxime Crepeau (6.5) : The Rapids sent a lot of shots (23) Max’s way but few of them actually found the target. His best saves came inside the final 15 minutes as the Rapids looked for a winner - especially right at the death as he made a nice read on a deflected ball.
Florian Jungwirth (7.0) : Flo’s awareness and communication continues to impress me, especially when you have a direct comparison to Andy Rose as they play together on a backline. The German passes better than plenty of defensive midfielders in MLS and it’s a joy to watch a centreback who’s not afraid to take a few strides up the pitch on the ball.
Andy Rose (5.0) : Maybe it was just rust, but Andy hasn’t been able to find the early season form he enjoyed since he’s struggled to stay healthy. The confidence on the ball, which was never terribly high, really isn’t there at the moment, and he was a bit fortunate Barrios didn’t punish him for his early giveaway. Andy also doesn’t bring much assertiveness to defensive set-pieces, he and Ranko consistently look a bit lost in these moments - which is obviously not what you want from your primary defenders.
Ranko Veselinovic (6.0) : Like with Andy, I’d be hoping for more on defensive set-pieces, but other than that, I thought it was a solid outing for Ranko. He passed well and managed to win a good amount of his 1 v. 1’s. The Serbian defender also came up clutch with a couple of crucial late game blocks as the Whitecaps were under heavy pressure in their own area.
Javain Brown (6.5) : It was really nice to see a natural fullback back in the fold as the Whitecaps have struggled so much with that position recently on the health front. The Jamaican pretty much picked things up where he left off. He created a couple of good opportunities with two key passes, his crossing was on point, and he was an active defender.
Russell Teibert (5.5) : This is where someone like Caio Alexandre is really missed. Teibert didn’t put a foot too far wrong, but basically just wasn’t all that involved in the match. he only had 30 touches over the full course of 90 minutes, and completed just 20 passes.
Janio Bikel (6.0) : Similar to Teibert, the Bikel really struggled to get involved, especially early on. The fact that Bikel and Teibert were paired alongside each other probably didn’t help either. Initially, Bikel looks guilty on the goal against, but I think he’s passing off Wilson to the next zone, only for no one else to pick him up. Maybe Bikel needs to do a better job in communication there, but ultimately it falls on the CB’s as well.
Cristian Dajome (5.5) : The Colombian was a bit of a victim of the role he was asked to play in this one. Unlike against Austin, where the expansion side had no idea how to mark him, the Rapids were well-prepped for Dajome’s threat in wide areas and did a really good job neutralizing him. It seemed that everything Dajo tried just wasn’t coming off in this one. A rare poor outing from an altogether very consistent performer.
Ryan Gauld (6.5) : The Scot’s blazing goal and assist pace has worn off, but he still finds a way to create in every match he plays. He popped up in a lot of different areas for the Caps and made some long runs to help a team that was otherwise struggling to put long stretches of attacking play together. There were some signs of chemistry with Cavallini when he came on as well, so hopefully that will continue.
Deiber Caicedo (6.5) : It was a solid showing from Deiber, especially coming off a mid-week illness that limited his preparation for the match (pretty sure that’s why he came off when he did). As the season has gone on, Deiber has found a knack for capitalizing on his chances and creating more than is there to be had with his dogged determination. His pass to White on the goal was inch-perfect.
Brain White (6.5) : I’ve watched White’s finishing enough at training to know that all he was trying to do on the goal was get it somewhere on target. Even with that said, White has made a good case for why you might not need a designated player at striker in MLS, especially when the service is average.
Substitutes (6.0) : I’ve lumped them together because there’s not a lot to write home about here. Cava had a few opportunities but still looks a bit off, it’s been a long time since he scored a goal and a think seeing one go in would do a lot for his confidence. Baldi was decent, although overall it hasn’t been the breakout season some were probably hoping for from him. Interestingly, I think adding Jungwirth into the hold may have reduced his utility to a certain extent. It was nice to see Jake fit again, and it would be good to have two natural fullbacks ready for the next weekend.
Vanni Sartini (6.0) : Given the players at his disposal, I’m not sure there’s much Vanni could have done in a drastically different way. There weren’t the same brilliant tactical wrinkles we saw against Austin, but that’s much easier to do against a team at the bottom of the standings than one near the top.
All in all, it’s a point the Whitecaps will be happy to take as they focus their energies on a crucial upcoming stretch.