I wrote before the season started that the Vancouver Whitecaps’ success or failure would be determined by X-factors- players who could potentially make a big difference but whose success was by no means guaranteed. Just about every single one of those X-factors broke the wrong way in their pitiful 4-0 season opener loss to the Columbus Crew. Let’s look at how the individual players performed.
Thomas Hasal: 5.0
On the one hand, it is hard to point to him as the primary cause of any of the four goals. On the other hand, sometimes you need a save and Hasal just wasn’t able to produce them consistently. I think the TSN panel’s analysis of him was harsh but he also did not rise to the occasion.
Tristan Blackmon: 5.0
He was ok, he certainly looked the most comfortable on the ball of any Whitecaps defender (not a high bar) but he and Javain Brown seemed to have no idea who was supposed to be where on the right side of defence.
Ranko Veselinovic: 7.0
I actually thought he looked pretty good. Sure he looked a bit janky with the ball and scored an unfortunate own goal (he is still Ranko Veselinovic after all) but I wouldn’t say Columbus players got the better of him very often. Considering they were getting the better of other Whitecaps players he was under constant bombardment and mostly handled it well.
Jake Nerwinski: 2.0
I mean, that was so bad. If I were coaching against the Whitecaps I would just tell my players to press like mad every time Nerwinski gets the ball. He was so slow to get the ball out of his feet and didn’t look at all comfortable under pressure. The worst-case scenario if you pressed him would be if he passed the ball sideways to Veselinovic, also not a very comfortable passer, creating a cascade of pressure that the Whitecaps could not handle. He didn’t cover himself in glory when defending 1v1 either and, of course, got a red card.
Javain Brown: 1.5
Brown looked slow and like nobody had told him where he was supposed to stand in this formation. He was caught out of position constantly, leaving the back three isolated against waves of Columbus attackers. The TSN crew speculated about his fitness levels and maybe that’s part of the issue but occasional mystifyingly bad outings have always been part of the Javain Brown experience.
Michael Baldisimo: 2.0
Maybe his worst ever Whitecaps performance. He could not do anything to interrupt Columbus’s attacks and was totally unable to progress the ball under any kind of pressure. Just awful.
Russel Teibert: 3.0
After seeming to find new life under Sartini last season Teibert was back to going out there and just kind of existing. By my count, he played four successful forwards passes and he was credited with 0 successful defensive actions, a stat I see no reason to contest.
Ryan Gauld: 4.0
There were at least some flashes from Gauld but he looked a lot less effective in a deeper midfield role. He was at least slightly better under pressure than his teammates but he was not unlocking opposing defences the way the Whitecaps would have hoped.
Cristian Dajome: 6.0
Dajome was not bad. He mostly did the things I would hope from him at the wingback position. He was one of the few players who got any kind of forward momentum going and he had a few of his trademark highly speculative long-range shots.
Lucas Cavallini: 6.0
Cavallini did a pretty good job of holding the ball up and challenging for aerial balls. He got very little support but that wasn’t his fault. He didn’t have much else going on but, in fairness to him, it was kind of hard to have anything going.
Deiber Caicedo: 3.0
He really did not do very much. It was difficult to do something as the ball never got to him but he didn’t look terribly assured when it did get to him.
Sebastian Berhalter: 7.0
I thought he looked really good. He was a lot better at breaking up plays than Baldisimo and looked less panicked when he received the ball under pressure.
I thought Pedro Vite had a lot of nice touches and looked like he could develop into a pretty good player. Cristian Gutierrez gave the team some ball progression from the left-back area of the pitch, something that was really missing in the first half. Emiliano Brienza was only on very briefly but he had one very nice run-in behind before shooting into the side of the net. It’s only one moment but it’s a good sign he was able to do that at the MLS level. Ryan Raposo didn’t really have enough time to establish himself.