The Whitecaps went down to Houston in the second road match of the season looking to improve on their performance from last week where they drew 0-0 with NYCFC. Not only that, but they were also hunting for their first goal of the season, as the first two matches brought with them dry spells for each of the eleven players on the field. Were they able to achieve what they set out to do? Read on to find out
First half thoughts:
Sartini lined up an incredibly attacking team, giving Vite his first start as he was planned to work in tandem with Ryan Gauld as they fed Cavallini chances. “Planned to” alluding to the fact that Vite was subbed off shortly after 25 minutes of the game starting due to concussion protocols. Many people were confused by the change, including Vite himself, as he was showing attacking spark and dynamism on his time on the field, but eventually he was replaced by Javain Brown. It was an unfortunate loss for the team, as they were employing a strategy of dropping back quickly and counterattacking. This led the Whitecaps to have low possession and fewer passes than Houston, but it worked out in their favour as the Whitecaps were able to strike first blood as Cavallini ended both the team’s and his personal goalscoring droughts. While this looked to be a turn of fortune for the Whitecaps, the game plan along with the way the goal came about began to show the cracks of the system that would eventually get the better of the Whitecaps. This was in the lack of control in the midfield, hampered by that early Vite substitution.
Houston managed to get some crucial attacks going but were shut down by the Whitecaps defenders (Notably Jungwirth) on multiple occasions. A breakthrough came for the Dynamo when after some less than stellar marking allowed MLS Veteran Darwin Quintero to add to his tally of goals and open his account for the night. The Whitecaps looked to bounce back though, and were able to stave off any future humiliation thanks to Hasal, who looks to be growing both in confidence and ability after every game he plays. Hopefully this improvement is something that continues for the following matches.
For the most part, it looked like the game could have gone either way when entering the half, and ‘Caps fans wouldn’t be wrong to get excited about the thought of a second goal coming early in the second half. As if answered by a monkey’s paw, a goal did come by in the second half, unfortunately in the form of a Darwin Quintero wonderstrike that left the Whitecaps scrambling to realize what happened. It was an unexpected goal from deep that could have been avoided were the midfielder situation sorted on the Whitecaps’ end, but alas that was not the case and the Dynamo player was left wide open with the time to take the strike. After that, the Whitecaps capitulated, and Houston increased their attacks and shots while the Whitecaps struggled for creativity.
A result of that was that Lucas Cavallini was forced into making winger-like runs that often led to him losing the ball since he lacks the agility of a natural winger. That’s not to put too much fault on the Canadian striker since it was usually a solo job for him to create scoring chances. The disjointment of the attack makes one wonder what would have happened were Pedro Vite to have played the full 90, but that is just wishful thinking at this point. The ‘Caps looked off the pace for the rest of the game, and only really looked to threaten near the end of the game, where they were gifted with a generous amount of time and opportunistic free kick locations. Unfortunately they weren’t able to amount to much and the scoreline remained 2-1 at the end of the night, thus continuing the Whitecaps’ winless run.
There is a lot to go over as a team in training to prepare for the next match, as there are some tough upcoming fixtures and the Whitecaps need to find their way on the horse if they want to reach the playoffs in consecutive years.
Do you think it’ll be possible? Sound off in the comments below.