The Vancouver Whitecaps took all three points Saturday night in Kansas City by a score of 1-0. In any season leading up to this one that would have been a monumental achievement. Yes, Sporting KC has not been in very good form this year, but nonetheless, it was an impressive job from Vancouver to earn their second consecutive road result amongst an incredibly busy span of games.
While the bunker and counter strategy from the Whitecaps didn’t make for amazing football, SKC did not appear to have any answers for the Whitecaps’ structural rigidity, so I have to credit Sartini and his coaching staff for doing just enough to get the job done.
Ok, let’s dive into the rankings.
Cody Cropper (7.0) : I’ll admit I’ve been quite pleasantly surprised by Cropper’s play so far. His presence in the air is particularly notable, and he would have been there for a last second stop if not for Javain Brown’s goal-line clearance.
Jake Nerwinski (7.0) : We’ve been hard on Nerwinski in the report card this season and I think that’s been merited. However, it’s clear that Jake can be a good defender when he has support around him, and I think that was emphasized in this match with Flo and the more defensive minded wing-backs providing that extra layer of support. He won all four of his ground duels in this one.
Ranko Veselinovic (7.0) : Not a ton to say really, as SKC did so little to really threaten the Caps in high danger areas. He did a good job cleaning things up for Vancouver with nine clearances.
Javain Brown (7.0) : The Jamaican has enjoyed a real resurgence since the shift in defensive philosophy. Like Nerwinski, it’s clear he thrives with a little more support where he’s not asked to play a ton of 1v1s in space, this has also allowed Javain to keep his stamina up in matches and contribute a lot more going forward.
Florian Jungwirth (6.0) : Flo still looks like he’s lost a step from last season and he does get dribbled past quite a bit. That being said, if you want a no nonsense defensive midfielder, I prefer what I saw from Flo than what we are used to seeing from Teibert.
Marcus Godinho (6.5) : Cam Duke made Godinho and Brown put in a lot of work on their side of the pitch and for the most part they were up for the challenge. Godinho in particular was really active defensively with a ton of tackles and ground duels. While defending is not his strength, I thought he put in a good shift and did offer a little bit on the ball as well.
Cristian Gutierrez (5.5) : Finding the right position for Guti still looks like a real challenge. I thought this pseudo midfield role would have really suited him, but he struggled on his long balls and crosses, and also didn’t really look to have the legs for some of the defensive work.
Sebastian Berhalter (6.5) : Berhalter is a real midfield workhorse. The passing and decision making still needs to improve but the urgency and intent is definitely there. I know it’s a bit weird to view him as a prospect, but he only just turned 21, so there’s still room for some upside.
Leonard Owusu (5.0) : Another 45 minute showing from Leo with a lot of zeros across the board. It feels as though if he doesn't get himself involved early on he really struggles to impose himself on the match and make any kind of noticeable impact. It’s a shame for him, as this past stretch of games could have been a big opportunity with all the injuries the Caps have faced in the midfield. I’m not sure he’ll get another extended look at this point.
Cristian Dajome (6.5) : Shame for Dajo having to come off injured, but he looked lively early on and helped create the play which drew the PK for Vancouver.
Lucas Cavallini (7.5) : Cheeky penalty aside, Cava has been the Whitecaps’ MVP so far this year, and this is easily the best form he’s enjoyed with the Blue and White. It’s not just the goal-scoring for the Canadian striker, it’s the fact that the Whitecaps have been able to use him effectively in hold up play and as a distributor to kick start the attack which has really taken his play to another level - especially in the games without Ryan Gauld in the lineup. You have to be excited about his play when the midfield takes better shape behind him.
Deiber Caicedo (6.5) : The Colombian creates a lot of chances, but man, it can be frustrating to watch at times, as he often looks a step or two away from making the perfect play. If he can just get the game to slow down for him a bit, I think he could really take a major step forward. It was a shame he couldn’t take advantage of Tim Melia’s ill-advised charge to the edge of the box.
Substitutes (6.5) : Other than a very egregious Erik Godoy giveaway, I didn't find much that stood out from the rest of the substitutes.
Alright, that’s it from me. What did you think of Vancouver’s away win in KC? Will their midfield reinforcements be enough to see them push for a playoff spot? Let me know!