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Report Card: The Whitecaps Are Going to the Finals!

If you thought the last two Whitecaps matches were lacking late drama, then Wednesday’s Canadian Championship semi-final was for you.

York United v Vancouver Whitecaps FC - Canadian Championship Photo by Christopher Morris - Corbis/Getty Images

It wasn’t as comprehensive a win as we would have liked, the Vancouver Whitecaps dispatched CPL-side York United 2-1 Wednesday night to secure a place in the Canadian Championship final for the first time since 2018.

Though Vancouver controlled the match for long stretches, outshooting their opponents from Ontario 12-2 in the first forty-five minutes alone, they were finally rewarded for their efforts with a Brian White tally early in the second half. A second goal from White with fifteen minutes remaining should have iced it, but since when does a Whitecaps match in the Canadian Championships come without any drama? The visitors buried one late to ruin the shutout, but fell short in their bid to overturn the Worst Lead In Sports.

In any case: we’re on to the finals!

As for the Report Card, as usual a score of 5 represents a completely average performance. According to Rotten Tomatoes, it’s kind of like watching Transporter 2: you’re not quite getting The Transporter, but you’re not suffering through Transporter 3, either.

Cody Cropper - 4.5

Cropper governed his backline well, was cleanly picking balls out of the air (even deadball crosses that floated so close to the net they technically counted as shots), and his near-post stop that Diyaeddine Abzi bent around the wall was a beauty. But on Isaiah Johnston goal late in the match? Even if it was deflected, that looked savable, especially after Cropper closed down the shooting angle. It’s just not The 2022 Whitecaps if there isn’t late drama added to the mix.

Jake Nerwinski - 4

I thought he played really well Wednesday night …until the goal happened. Nerwinski’s long balls were particularly effective, always either hitting their target or being played into space. Largely looked comfortable overall, until Johnston turned him inside-out just the one time. And, like Cropper, unfortunately gets dinged as a result of being directly involved with a goal conceded so late into the match.

Florian Jungwirth - 4.5

Pretty solid defensively, but Jungwirth’s passing out of the back was not of the highest quality. Thankfully, there was no play troublesome enough for York to exploit.

Erik Godoy - 5

Godoy’s aerial clearances were clutch and his distribution was pretty decent. The only thing I would ask of him at this point is to yell at his wingbacks, loudly and frequently, to get their butts back and help out defensively at the back ost. Dajome was better about it in the second half, but a higher caliber team than York would easily take advantage of the ‘Caps right side if it remains so laissez-faire. So, yeah, I’d love to see Godoy be loud and demanding of his teammates once in a while.

Cristian Dajome - 5.5

Dajome with space to run is a beautiful thing, whether its to receive a pass, with the ball already at his feet, or to open up the field for someone else. But when he’s being closed down on while in possession? An under duress Dajome needs to be sharper and much more decisive.

Andreas Cubas - 6.5

So that’s what a ballwinner looks like! Cubas is swift and relentless when he’s decided to close down on a player. Even his fouls had a specific doggedness to them, where they were never vicious, but just insidious enough to disrupt his York United counterparts. And when called upon, he can pass it out of the middle, too.

Russell Teibert - 5.5

Defensively, I thought Teibert’s calculated decision-making paired well with Cubas’ dynamism. He never stepped into the play as quick as Cubas, but that’s never been Teibert’s game. Instead, it was a matter of succinctly intercepting the telegraphed passes the York players were making.

And speaking of passes, Teibert made a few progressive ones Wednesday night that were sharp as hell! When doing so, I’d like him to link up with Gauld more often, not just to get him more involved, but to keep the ‘Caps from one-dimensionally attacking the corners.

Ryan Raposo - 6

Raposo was quick with his decisions on the ball and his crosses, both live and dead balls, were effective throughout. He very well could have got himself a 9 or 10 if that audacious chest-and-volley had gone post-and-in and not post-and-Giantsopoulos. But with White there to sweep home the rebound, that play as a whole is instead a great reminder that Raposo can play with a flourish.

Ryan Gauld - 6.5

Quiet in the first half, though that had everything to do with the Whitecaps primarily attacking from the wings and less so through the middle. That of course would not keep Gauld out of the game, as he progressively made himself more available based on how the team was attacking. He started finding ways to latch onto crosses from the wings, or became the one to run to the corner and whip in those crosses, as he had done on White’s second goal. Rather than reshape the game with his own strengths, Gauld found a way to affect it by inserting himself into its ongoing dynamic.

Lucas Cavallini - 6

There was a certain emphasis and determination to Cavallini’s off-the-ball movement Wednesday night. No, his play did not result in either goal, but Cava’s ability to corral passes, either on the ground or in the air, all while keeping defenders at his back, was authoritative. Obviously would have liked to see him bury his breakaway at 29’, but otherwise thought Cavallini had a quality run.

Brian White - 8

I was worried Wednesday night was going to turn into a series of missed opportunities for White, where he couldn’t quite get a clean look on net or get himself in the right spot to receive a pass. Consistently zigging when he should have zagged, that kind of thing.

So what happens? He coolly bangs home a rebound for his first goal and takes a volley off the bounce to knock home his second. It wasn’t so much that he was not getting to the right spots, but rather he had not been in the right spots yet. Patience pays off, kids, especially when you’re already doing the right thing.

Substitutions

Luis Martins - 5

In for Raposo at 63’. Martins’ clearances were measured when helping out the back three, though his distribution had a bit too much oomph. Nevertheless, Martins was a decent option on the wing, demanding balls to his feet on the sideline rather than over the top and down the wing.

Deiber Caicedo - 5.5

In for Cava at 63’. Caicedo brought with him a fresh energy, showing for balls by quickly closing large gaps between himself and the ball-carrier. And when in possession, Caicedo was smart in his decision-making, never forcing passes or dribbling into drama when quality options weren’t immediately available.

Caio Alexandre - 3.5

In for Gauld at 77’. Made smart runs and had an OK vision of the pitch, until he was deep in the offensive end, that is. Once there, the choices Alexandre made became a little too rudimentary and predictable. If anything, the Whitecaps needed ball possession out of him to help protect the lead. And with the match suddenly growing tenuous in the last eight or so minutes, the Whitecaps needed a more impassioned defensive effort out of him than what was given.

Tosaint Ricketts - 4

In for White at 77’. Helped keep things simple for the most part, as the ‘Caps were trying to close out the match, though I would have liked to see him close the gap with the midfield when the backline is trying to clear balls. And that undressing of Eduardo Jesus in injury time? Absolutely phenomenal! …until Ricketts’ choice overload turned a 1v3 breakaway into a complete nothingburger of an opportunity.

Leo Owusu - Inc.

In for Cubas at 81’. Decent turns and ball movement in his few minutes at the end.