The Vancouver Whitecaps lost 3-0 to Nashville SC in a game that was as dispiriting as it was weird.
The Whitecaps came out looking quite bright. They had the ball in Nashville’s end for the most part and created a few scrambles around the box. They still didn’t look like they were on the verge of slicing open the opposition but they looked like they were on course for one of those home wins where their pressure was enough that eventually a goal just kind of appeared. Then that positive start crumbled when Nashville scored two quick goals. Nashville was also not looking like they were on the verge of breaking through the Whitecaps with a quick passing move but their shots happened to go in and that left Vancouver with a mountain to climb. There were, of course, things to criticize. Berhalter lost the ball on the first goal and the Whitecaps did a poor job of marking on the second. But mistakes do happen sometimes and at the end of the day we went into the half with both teams on 0.3 expected goals but one up by two actual goals.
Of course, offensively the Whitecaps were not looking great and that is a problem. Julian Gressel and Alessandro Schöpf were supposed to give the team a shot in the arm going forward and so far that has not happened. Gressel has been alright, with a goal and an assist in a little over 500 minutes, but Schöpf is looking very out of shape. The Austrian reminds me a lot of first-year Kenny Miller. You can see the gears turning but his body just can’t quite keep up with what his brain is telling him to do right now. Based on his pedigree I back him to figure it out eventually but that’s not great news for the Whitecaps of today.
In the second half, the dispiriting weirdness continued. The Whitecaps conceded another highly improbably fluky goal and Lucas Cavallini, clearly having just binged a bunch of old Pride FC fights, was shown a straight red card. So there the Whitecaps were three goals and one man down having not really given up any dangerous chances of note. I’m sure a lot will be said about effort, defensive breakdowns, tactics, and the like. To be sure those things played a role but it must be said that this game was very weird.
The game was more or less over as a contest at this point. The Whitecaps had some flashes, particularly through Pedro Vite but there was nothing clear-cut. Tristan Blackmon conceded a late penalty which Hasal did well to save but it was hard to get excited by anything at that point.
The playoffs are looking less likely all the time. There’s reason to be optimistic for next year with the players the Whitecaps have brought in and the salaries they have coming off the books. There will be a lot to figure out in the remaining games, particularly around the ‘Caps’ ability to generate scoring chances. We shall see.