The Vancouver Whitecaps fell 3-1 to the Colorado Rapids in a dispiriting but not totally unsurprising result. There was some slightly baffling refereeing but, at the end of the day, I don’t think you can point to that as the main reason the Whitecaps fell.
The Whitecaps came out with a change in shape, something that a huge number of people on Twitter were demanding. For about 15 minutes it looked like maybe this change in shape would pay off. Brian White capitalized on a dreadful defensive error and put the Whitecaps up a goal. But it quickly became apparent, to me at least, that the change in shape made no significant difference. The Whitecaps still struggled to break down their opponents, still got no goalkeeping, and were occasionally exploited by balls into the channels. They did concede a penalty which seemed to be, in no way inside the penalty area. The Colorado commentary team was saying that the location of the foul is decided by where the foul finishes. I have to say, I don’t recall that being the rule, but I would be lying to you if I said I could recite the laws of the game backward and forwards. But even with that rule in mind, it was a baffling call.
But I don’t want to dwell on the call for too long. Sometimes that sort of thing is just going to happen, as a fact of life. I believe pretty firmly that if you’re citing a refereeing decision as the reason you lost you probably did not deserve to win.
As anyone who watched the game can attest, there were a lot of reasons the Whitecaps did not win this game. Cody Cropper was beaten at his near post for what seems like the 20th time this season. Dropping Hasal was 100% the wrong decision. Not because Hasal is particularly good (he isn’t) but because Cropper is worse in every aspect of the game. Neither keeper is helping you win but you are giving yourself a marginally better chance with Hasal and the Whitecaps really can’t afford to give up any margins at this point.
But more concerning for me was the ‘Caps’ total lack of offensive juice. We know Brian White can score in this league, we know Gressel can perform in the league, Schöpf was a top-tier shot producer in the Bundesliga, and Vite has been coming on strong (he was probably my man of the match for this one). Yet they just had nothing. Colorado was content to park the bus in the second half but the ‘Caps were not able to create any clear-cut opportunities that were not gifted to them. I think the Whitecap’s defensive problems are a bit of a mirage. Get a keeper that can actually stop something and a centre-back who can do what Godoy did when he was healthy and you’re laughing. But their attack is so bad. Maybe you can juice it a bit by replacing Cavallini with a better DP striker but I’m just not sure that would be enough. Some kind of fundamental re-think is necessary because the players they have should be producing more than this (though it would be wrong to suggest they should be leading the league).
Anyway, I guess we’ll see what happens. It feels like the wheels are well and truly off at this point and I’m not quite sure where they will go from here. There are a lot of pieces to like about this Whitecaps team and it is very possible that next year’s team could be strong. But there are also a lot of pitfalls that could make that difficult.