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Report Card: Incremental Improvements for Whitecaps against FC Dallas

The Vancouver Whitecaps picked up their first points of the MLS season, but many of the same niggling issues remained.

MLS: FC Dallas at Vancouver Whitecaps FC Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Saturday afternoon at BC Place, the Vancouver Whitecaps earned their first result of the young MLS Season with a 1-1 draw against FC Dallas.

It was a match of mixed emotions for the Whitecaps, as they recovered well from a bumpy start, yet, many of the lingering problems from the first couple matches of the season remain. Overall, this team’s ability to defend crosses has been their biggest issue to date, while getting their strikers in better form, or just plain finishing chances, would be a close second.

Ok, let’s get into the player rankings.

Yohei Takaoka (7.0): The Japanese keeper was severely tested inside the opening 10 minutes and made a crucial save against Arriola which could have easily seen the Whitecaps go down 2-0. After that, it was a pretty quiet afternoon for Takaoka.

Ranko Veselinovic (6.0): As the leader of the back line, it is getting to the point where individual players have to take some responsibility for the free headers this team has been allowing inside the box. While Ranko is a great passer and 1v1 defender, aerial duels are not a strength.

Tristan Blackmon (6.0): Similar to Ranko, hard to fault outside of the one glaring frailty at the back. I do think it might be worth considering giving Karifa Yao a run centrally, or at the very least actually playing Laborda at CB. Again, not because either of these guys have played poorly, but more to stop the one weakness which teams will evidently try to exploit.

Javain Brown (6.0): I remain pretty confused by how much Brown has played so far this season, but overall, it was a decent showing from the Jamaican. He was active offensively, albeit very inaccurate with his crosses, going just 1 of 8. He also looked a bit caught in no man’s land on the FC Dallas goal.

Ryan Raposo (6.5): The beginning of the match was a bit tough for Raposo as he was targeted by Paul Arriola down FC Dallas’ left flank. However, Raposo did settle into the match and it is evident he provides a lot in buildup that you won’t see from other fullbacks on this team. In particular, he continues to have really good chemistry with Ryan Gauld and overall he plays really nice one touch passing sequences with the midfield which helps build the attack.

Alessandro Schopf (6.5): As someone who was cautious of the Austrian going into the year, I have been impressed with the fact that Schopf has looked better and better in each match he has played. In particular, we’re seeing more and more of the athleticism and high motor that was missing last season. Equally, it’s good to see him looking for shooting opportunities around the box.

Andres Cubas (7.0): Through the first four matches of the season, Cubas has been incredibly consistent for this team and provided pretty much everything you could ask for from a six. Hopefully, he can limit the yellow cards because the Whitecaps will miss him desperately if he has to miss a match.

Julian Gressel (7.0): I never get tired of watching Gressel’s delivery into the box. While the Whitecaps couldn’t take advantage of his service on the day, it is an encouraging sign going forward, especially how effective he has looked centrally.

Ryan Gauld (7.0): Like Cubas, Gauld has been ultra-consistent and gives the Whitecaps a lot of reason to be optimistic going forward for the rest of the season. It’s worth noting that both Gressel and Gauld are in the top six in Xa through three matches in MLS play.

Cristian Dajome (6.0): While Dajome does bring a unique skill-set to the table, it really does not fit with the model that Vanni Sartini is trying to build in Vancouver, that much looks obvious. There were several moments in the first half where Dajome’s heavy touch or lack of situational awareness thwarted what otherwise could have been a promising attack.

Brian White (5.5): I think it might be time for White to shave his beard. The American is struggling at the moment and it probably didn’t help that every time the ball was at his feet in this match, which was not often, it was on the end of a big chance. If White was slotting those chances home, as we’ve seen him do before, the Whitecaps could be in a much different place right now. According to American Soccer Analysis, White is fifth in the league in Xg at 1.73 despite not having a goal to show for it.

Sergio Cordova (5.5): It’s been a lumbering start to the Venezuelan’s Whitecaps career. More than anything, Cordova just does not look to be on the same page as many of his Whitecaps teammates, which is why getting some consistent starts will be important for him. His hesitant nature was evidenced by a moment deep into extra-time, where he would’ve had an easy tap-in had he read the low cross from Ranko Veselinovic a moment earlier.

Vanni Sartini (6.0): I’ll credit the manager for making some much needed tweaks to his back-line with the inclusion of Raposo, but it still feels like there’s more work to do, specifically, by finding a way to include Laborda and clamping down on opposing crosses. Up top, Sartini made the right move by subbing Dajome at halftime, and overall, the Whitecaps are creating enough chances to win these matches. I know no one wants to hear this, but the goal scoring luck should come around eventually.

What did you think of the match on Saturday afternoon? Let me know in the comments.