Friday night at BC Place, the Vancouver Whitecaps uncharacteristically threw away home points against Minnesota United, allowing three unanswered second-half goals and falling by a score of 3-1.
Now, I am going to be honest with you, this report card is going to get a bit ugly. There were some pretty obvious reasons this match went sideways for Vancouver, and a few players in particular are going to bear the brunt of the second-half collapse.
Cody Cropper (1.5) : This match should clear up some of the Cropper over-hyping we’ve seen in this market. There’s a big difference between Cropper being part of the Whitecaps’ recent success and Cropper being the reason for the Whitecaps’ recent success. I feel like people have been conflating these two things.
The first Minnesota goal was a decent team goal, so I won’t blame Cropper there, but his inability to read the situation on the second and third goals is a big part of the reason this match got out of hand.
On the second Loons goal, Cropper should be getting a good read on the shot from such a distance. Meanwhile, on the third goal, he is simply caught in no-man’s land - something we’ve seen several times from him in broken play situations.
Jake Nerwinski (0.0) : Ok, time to rip the band-aid off. Listen, I’m not trying to be unnecessarily mean to Jake but this is the main reason the Whitecaps lost 3-1. I also think some of the blame for this match lies at Vanni’s feet for putting Jake in this position.
Basically, Jake is not confident enough in 1v1’s to hand off responsibilities smoothly with the wing back or midfielders on his side of the pitch, and this causes constant problems (i.e. the first Minnesota goal).
Equally, when in possession, Jake is not comfortable enough to build up patiently and play back and forth with the wing back on his side of the pitch. Vanni’s system, at its best, has relied on the wide centre backs being calm on the ball and utilizing the wing backs to build play in transition. On the second Minnesota goal, we saw that the slightest bit of pressure unnerved Nerwinski to the point where he played an errant ball to Teibert rather than re-setting with a ball back to Ranko in the middle of the park. Even if the pass to Teibert was completed, he was under pressure from three Loons.
Finally, I’m not even going to break down the third goal for Nerwinski because there’s not much to say about it. Simply put, The Whitecaps have to hope Blackmon and Godoy stay healthy enough, or they have to add some depth at the position.
Ranko Veselinovic (5.5) : The young Serbian looked about as good as you can look in a 3-1 defeat and was the strongest defender on the evening. He tallied 5 blocks, some of which were crucial, as well as 5 clearances.
Javain Brown (4.5) : There was a dubious moment or two for Javain with some loose passing but he brought a tireless ability to cover ground that often made up for it. Overall, Javain has adjusted well to the wide centre back spot and combines well with whoever plays at wing back in front of him.
Andres Cubas (5.5) : Another rock-solid showing even though it was cut short by injury concern. Cubas obviously can patch over a lot of holes for this Vancouver team and that was very notable with his absence in the second half.
Russell Teibert (3.5) : Maybe this is an unpopular opinion but Teibert was far from the reason the Whitecaps lost this match 3-1. That being said, it’s pretty obvious the only way that the Canadian veteran looks like a day-to-day MLS starter is with a DP-level midfielder alongside him. You can survive with Teibert as a starter but only if the rest of the team is strong around him.
Marcus Godinho (5.0) : I thought the Canadian was really good yet again and he showed how much more of a natural fit for the wing back position he is than Dajome. I really can’t believe how well Godinho has looked in this run of form, especially defensively.
Cristian Dajome (3.5) : The Colombian tried a lot of good things in this match but none of them came off quite the way he was hoping for. I far prefer Dajome in an advanced role as he can get a bit tunnel-visioned on the ball which leads to some overly direct play and some missed opportunities when he’s at the wing back spot.
Ryan Gauld (5.0) : The Scotsman was good but probably didn’t get the ball in dangerous areas quite as much as he would have liked. A part of this was that White didn’t do a great job providing Gauld with passing options in and around the box.
Pedro Vite (6.0) : Vite backed up his sub performance from last match with a very strong 80 minutes against Minnesota. He looked confident on the ball and had several nice crosses into the box, including an assist on the Whitecaps’ lone goal.
Brian White (3.0) : White struggled in this match as he was often isolated against Minnesota’s centre backs. Because White doesn’t have the pace to scare defenders, he is quite limited when the other team’s defenders are not threatened in wide areas, allowing him more space to poach. It could have been a much different day if Dajome had found him wide open in front of goal in the first half.
Leo Owusu (3.0) : Another unremarkable performance. It didn’t cost the Whitecaps this match but it didn’t move the needle either.
Lucas Cavallini (6.0) : El Tanque continues to find a way to be productive. With the way the Whitecaps ask their striker to drop deep, Cava is a much better fit than White at the moment.
Ryan Raposo (4.0) : He was part of some very nice buildup play, opening up Vite for his assist to Cavallini. Looking back at the first Loons goal, I think that it was Nerwinski’s responsibility to go close down the crosser, as Raposo already had a man marked, but I’m not in the tactics sessions so I don’t know the exact responsibilities in those situations.
Tristan Blackmon and Tosaint Ricketts (N/A)
What did you think of the disappointing loss to Minnesota and do you agree with my ratings? Let me know in the comments.