Another game in BC Place, another goal at or after the 90-minute mark. Who says you can’t have a good time in Vancouver? A heart-stopping good time, but a good time nonetheless!
Ideally, the Vancouver Whitecaps would not be making a habit of scoring late, late, late into matches, just to earn points at home no less, but here we are. It happened again. For the fifth time in a row in fact, as the Whitecaps saw off Real Salt Lake with a 2-1 victory Saturday night. In all fairness, Vancouver were good for the three points; I just wish they didn’t keep coming at the last minute!
For the report card, as usual a score of 5 is a completely standard performance. You stood where you meant to, you kicked what you were supposed to, and the ball went where it was intended to go. You were a player that neither overwhelmed or underwhelmed. You merely whelmed.
Cody Cropper - 7
After not looking bothered in the first half, Cropper definitely came up big twice in the second.
The first effort from RSL led to an inconceivable save on Sergio Cordova at 51’, pulling a header bound for the netting off the line and out of harm’s way. The phrase “inconceivable” can be taken quite literally on this one: I’m still not entirely sure the ball didn’t cross the goal line (check the 0:56 mark of the highlights video to see what I mean). Though a VAR check likely would have come, it wouldn’t be necessary as Cropper was beat short-side by Justin Meram just thirty seconds later. Just couldn’t get his leg out fast enough for the kick save.
As for the second big stop, as fantastic as it was I thought it came as a problem of Cropper’s own making. He knocks down a long shot from Jefferson Savarino, one I’m fairly certain was curling away from the net and destined for the endline, right into the path of a goal-crashing Cordova. Cropper was quickly on his feet to make a last-ditch lunge to stuff the shot and push the ball out for a goal kick. Big kudos for cleaning up after himself.
Overall, maybe Cropper could have reacted better on the Meram goal, especially after cutting down the shooting angle so well, but those two big stops (and a favorable deflected shot off the post at 81’) ensured that the late victory remained a possibility.
Jake Nerwinski - 6
Looked fairly solid defensively, his balls forward were finding feet for the most part, even ones played in the air, and one of his long throws worked! Not bad at all for tonight’s captain.
Rasko Veselinovic - 8
How do you not give a great score to a centerback who scores a goal with his foot? If I’m being honest, his long balls up the pitch were not great, but when you combine the goal with the clearing of nearly every ball knocked his way, overall you score it as a solid performance from Mr. Veselinovic.
Erik Godoy - 5.5
Godoy’s passing out of the back was sharp, he was decent in the tackle, and was drawing fouls off RSL attackers. Great stuff, all of it. However, I kept getting this vibe that Godoy was not communicating well with his wingbacks. The Cordova Save-And-Meram Goal sequence was really bad for Ryan Raposo, but both times Godoy looked far more nonchalant than usual.
Cristian Gutierrez - 5
I thought Gutierrez played well despite not being a gamechanger and I get the feeling he would agree, because he looked positively irate with his substitution at 71’.
Given how the match was going at the time, was that the right move by Vanni Sartini, to replace both his wingbacks? Should he have staggered the subs instead?
Maybe it was pre-planned, but seeing as how both wingbacks were subbed simultaneously, after continuously swapping wings throughout the match, I get the feeling that Sartini was either not happy with the play on the wings, or he was overthinking how the team should have played them.
Leo Owusu - 4.5
Owusu’s positioning was fine, his ball control was fine, and he got stuck in defensively. He could get himself out of jams for the most part, but as long as there wasn’t a need to make precision passes or opt to take anyone on while carrying the ball, he was fine. I feel like I’m saying “fine” a lot, but that’s what Owusu was tonight, so it’ll do.
Florian Jungwirth - 6
We may have to start calling Jungwirth Imodium because he kept on plugging up the middle for the second game in a row. He also looked fairly comfortable when distributing the ball, generally to wherever there was a foot able to take a pass, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him the #6 spot again in the future.
Sebastian Berhalter - 4.5
My only real gripe for Berhalter on Saturday was with the balls he played up the pitch. They sometimes felt a little too ambitious. You could get a sense of what his intensions were with the ball at his feet, but he was missing a precise execution on his passes. Not that he played poorly or anything, but those passes needed just a little more polish.
Ryan Raposo - 2.5
When he was left to do “winger” things? Raposo was OK. He made some long runs, he drew some fouls, and overall was fairly dynamic going forward.
But when he also needed to do “wingback” things? Hoo boy, things got dicey.
Cropper bailed him out once with the save on Cordova, but couldn’t do it a second time when Raposo fatefully chested a ball down for Meram to pilfer and plunder. Those thirty seconds will ultimately be what’s remembered in this match for Raposo.
Deiber Caicedo - 3.5
Caicedo’s runs were fine, I guess, but he far too often looked like a passenger in the match, with too few threats to the RSL backline. Also: he easily wins the award for Worst Yellow Card of the Match. What’s the point of refusing to back away from a free kick, then act like you’ve done nothing wrong? Such silliness.
Brian White - 4.5
White’s absence from the score sheet wasn’t due to a lack of effort. Seldom was White able to successfully latch on to a pass or make a play on a ball, but he sure made the most of what he could whenever possible. For example, he didn’t register any headers on net, but he sure could head balls into positive spots for his teammates. Of all things, he had a solid game as a roleplayer, which isn’t optimal for a target striker, but the effort was there. Let’s call it “Giroud-ian” and leave it at that.
Ryan Gauld - 8
In for Berhalter at 63’. Immediately affected the match with smart, simple play. Got back defensively when needed and, with the ball at his feet, would spread passes across the width of the pitch with gusto.
Look at the build up to the penalty kick. After controlling a difficult pass, Gauld went on the run, got his head up, and spotted the streaking Luis Martins on the opposite side, feeding the wingback with a ball that ultimately turned into the penalty drawn off Aaron Herrera. And once the PK was earned, Gauld cooly send MacMath the wrong way to bury the winner. No big deal.
Marcus Godinho - 4.5
In for Raposo at 71’, and nearly pulled a Raposo of his own by allowing Cordova to get around him at 77’. Was the right side of the pitch cursed Saturday night? Abandon man-marking all ye who enter here?
Anyways, that was the only real hiccup of memory for Godinho, who ran the wing well and even got a header on net, albeit right at Zac MacMath.
Luis Martins - 7
In for Gutierrez at 71’. Did well to force his marks to go wide and stay there. Was solid when he got up the pitch, first with a quality cross at 88’ and then with the run that earned a second yellow card for Herrera and a PK for the ‘Caps.
Caio Alexandre - 5.5
In for Owusu at 74’ and it was great to finally see him on the pitch at BC Place. I mean, I know the club has been displaced because of COVID and maybe his injuries have elongated his timeline, but Alexandre’s true home debut feels like its been longer than a year in the making.
Nevertheless, Caio made like Rick Ross and was hustlin’, hustlin’, hustin’. Never fearful to make a run into the opposing penalty area, which is a weird thing to see from a Whitecap CM, but he also motored his butt back defensively whenever it happened.
Tosaint Ricketts - 6
In for Caicedo at 74’ and once again nearly conjured some late match magic. Though it ultimately proved unnecessary, he nearly had himself another late game winning goal; instead, it was another late goal called offside. Que sera, sera. Ricketts was nonetheless dynamic in his fifteen-plus minutes.