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Report Card: Whitecaps Vindicated by Becher’s Late-Game Heroics

For a third straight match, the Vancouver Whitecaps earned a single point with a 1-1 draw in Minnesota on Saturday night. We break down the performances in the latest report card.

MLS: Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Minnesota United FC Matt Blewett-USA TODAY Sports

Saturday night in Minnesota, the Vancouver Whitecaps played out a 1-1 draw against a depleted Minnesota United side that was without seven regular starters.

While the Whitecaps controlled the tempo for most of the match and overall played some pretty attractive attacking football, some of the same looming problems with this team remained. Namely, the Whitecaps continue to struggle finishing their chances in front of goal, as well as the incredibly frustrating habit of being completely undone by their defending of crosses. Water is wet, as they say.

With that being said, let’s take a look at the individual performances:

Yohei Takaoka (6.5) - It was not a very busy night for Takaoka who only had to make two saves. Overall, it continues to be a joy to watch his confidence and command on the ball.

Mathias Laborda (7.0) - I am begging, please play this man at CB. The only criticism I could level against Laborda in this match is that he looked like he was playing out of position, because he was. Overall though, I’ve been impressed by his bull-in-a china-shop aggressiveness, and even though it’s not his best role, his passing from wide areas was notably better than the last time he played at RB.

Ranko Veselinovic (6.0) - On the whole, my confidence in the Serbian has really diminished so far this season. As always, Ranko was very good for the most part, but whenever he leads the back line there’s always a moment or two of weakness that is punished.

Tristan Blackmon (6.5) - Similar to Ranko, I don’t know if Blackmon has the traits to be a leader of the back line, especially in his own area. That being said, the American’s offensive threat and athleticism make him a very nice complimentary piece.

Ryan Raposo (6.0) - It was a bit of a scruffy match from Raposo as the whole left side of Vancouver’s formation struggled a bit. This system is very demanding on a guy who is not a natural fullback, so as expected, he looks best when he has a chance to tuck into the midfield on the ball, but less so left isolated in 1v1’s defensively.

Sebastian Berhalter (7.0) - Although his passing was not quite as sharp as what we see from Cubas, Berhalter did a great job filling the shoes of the designated player. It probably helped that the Loons were missing their two best midfielders, but Berhalter can only play the team in front of him. Overall, I think the young American is a very reliable depth piece for this team.

Alessandro Schopf (6.5) - After a series of really good matches, it felt like a bit of a quieter night from the Austrian. All in all though, it was another solid showing.

Julian Gressel (7.0) - The German-American continues to be the chance creation centre of this Whitecaps team so far in 2023. Although his success rate on crosses was rather low, overall, Gressel has really been thriving as a central mid and I’ve noticed more and more moments of him taking command of the team in possession from that position.

Ryan Gauld (6.0) - The Scotsman never really settled into the match and there were several times when he lost his footing or made a pass that just missed the mark. It was revealed after the match he was dealing with some muscle tightness, which in hindsight makes a lot of sense. Hopefully, he’s good to go against CF Montreal.

Cristian Dajome (4.0) - I’ve been hoping that Dajome could revitalize his Whitecaps career, but not like this. I feel like a broken record, but at this point, everyone can see that he does not suit the role he is playing. Almost every time the Whitecaps were building some dangerous possession, the threat came to an end when the ball was played to Dajome. Pedro Vite can’t start soon enough. I will note that I don’t think it would be a terrible idea for Dajome to play as a striker, which suits his attributes far more than this role.

Brian White (6.5) - I’ll echo exactly what Caleb is saying in this tweet below. White’s hold-up play and off-ball movement has been really really good so far this season. Is it frustrating that he has 2.3xG but is yet to score in MLS? Of course, but I think his time will come.

Substitutes (7.5) - As a whole, the guys that came off the bench played very well. Deiber Caicedo did not have much impact but it was just great to see him back in action. Ali Ahmed was very energetic down the left and JC Ngando looked pretty good, albeit still maybe a bit off the pace of MLS play. Pedro Vite really changed the threat of the Whitecaps attack when he entered in the 60th, and obviously, Simon Becher continues to be on a goal-scoring heater in very limited first-team minutes.

Vanni Sartini (6.0) - The Whitecaps dominated this match overall (1.7 to 0.6 xG) with 62% possession, so I do think the manager deserves some credit there. That being said, the lineup choices continue to confound me. Playing Laborda out of position, asking Raposo to play an incredibly demanding role as a fullback, playing Dajome as a number 10, these are all things which are easily avoidable, and yet Sartini refuses to see the light. The most hilarious part of this is that Sartini developed a formula that avoided all these problems at the end of last season, but now he refuses to use it. If someone has a cogent explanation for what is going through his head, be sure to let me know.

Ok, those were my thoughts on the match and player ratings. What did you think? Let me know in the comments as always.