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Report Card: Caps stayin’ alive after Austin FC win

MLS: Austin FC at Vancouver Whitecaps FC Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

The Caps remain alive thanks to another win, seeing off Austin FC 2-0 at BC Place in their final home game of the year. This was the way to go out at home — a good team effort where there were lots of notable performances. To see how that translates into report card grades, read on.

Thomas Hasal: 7.5

I may have a heart attack if Hasal attempts any more Cruyff turns in the box but it was a refreshingly strong performance from the young keeper, who seems to have seen his confidence increase during the good run of form — and the new formation is doing a better job of shielding him from a torrent of attacks. It seemed he was always in good position, meaning his slaves didn’t seem as flashy but were still solid.

Jake Nerwinski: 6

Nerwinski is ready made for this new formation and showed why again on Saturday. His main role from an attacking perspective is to serve as an outlet to move the ball forward as quickly as possible, something he did well on the first goal. Defensively, he had a couple slip ups but recovered well, such as a big block on Sebastian Driussi (after getting caught out of position).

Ranko Veselinovic: 6.5

A couple vital interventions highlighted a strong match for Ranko, who has quietly made himself invaluable in Vancouver. Had a couple moments where they gave Austin FC a big chance but otherwise limited them to nibbling around the edges, working around the towering Ranko.

Tristan Blackmon: 6.5

Lost track of Max Urruti a couple of times but otherwise there were no major issues for Blackmon, who has firmly established himself as the other half of the first choice centerback pairing.

Luis Martins: 6.5

It wasn’t a sexy performance from Martins but I was impressed with his positioning and spacing, making himself available enough to help facilitate moves forward but also not getting caught out. His pass forward for Gauld to power the second goal was an example of Martins simply doing what he was asked to do, very well.

Julian Gressel: 7

A bit of a quieter match for Gressel, though this was in large part due to the relatively limited number of attacks as the match went on and the fact that those attacks generally starred Vite or Gauld. But Gressel was quite good at ball progression and in this system, that is often the most valuable thing he can offer, getting the ball to the feet of a guy like Gauld in space sooner.

Andres Cubas: 6.5

Re-entering the lineup after injury, I was interested in what we would get from Cubas. Well, the answer is about what we always get. Was at times a bit over-eager, conceding a couple dangerous set pieces. Had a couple of unusually loose touches as well.

Russell Teibert: 7

No major errors and Rusty did a nice job of limiting the midfield space that Austin had to maneuver. Made a couple important defensive plays down the stretch as well and fulfilled his role well.

Ryan Gauld: 9

A marvelous, composed finish to open the match, on top of a perfectly timed run. It was a sign of a scrumptious match for Gauld, consistently pinging balls up the pitch, serving as a savvy recipient of flicks himself or taking on defenders in transition. Four key passes is almost a misnomer; his passing on fire. He was so good that Austin FC was frequently left with little choice but to hack him down before he even received the ball — but the away side was still left scratching their heads more often than not.

Brian White: 7

Didn’t get a goal but merited one with a strong performance that had real bite on the press and in front of goal, where he managed three shots and two on target. His touch let him down at times and probably cost him the quality of chance needed to snag a goal but overall this was a strong match for White.

Pedro Vite: 8

An inch perfect ball to assist on Gauld’s opener and it was another match where you could almost sense his chemistry build with the other attacking players in real time. His three key passes show his link-up play situates him nicely in Vanni Sartini’s new 4-2-2-2 and he could have had a couple more assists. Amazing he has become an almost un-droppable piece in this new formation but it is difficult to imagine this attack purring without Vite.

Lucas Cavallini: 7

Anyone worried about Cava’s mentality returning from suspension had their concerns quickly addressed. Cava didn’t get too many more chances than the flick he polished off to extend the Caps’ lead but, then again, he didn’t really need to. True to form, he displayed his hold up play instantly after coming on to win a foul and picked up a booking late in the match. A vintage performance.

Sebastian Berhalter: 5.5

It was good to see Berhalter get a run out and I would be interested to see what he looks like next to Cubas in this system. Unfortunately, he didn’t get to see much of the ball and, outside of a couple nice defensive moments, didn’t leave much of a mark on the match.

Leo Owusu

Ryan Raposo: N/A

Came on and did some stuff once the win was effectively secured. Raposo had a couple touches but these guys were the human victory cigars.