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Report Card: Gauld, Blackmon & Raposo Shine in CCL Opener

In the latest edition, we break down Wednesday night’s big CONCACAF victory.

MLS: Concacaf Champions League-Real Espana at Whitecaps FC Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Wednesday night at BC Place, the Vancouver Whitecaps claimed a strong 5-0 victory over Real Espana in the CONCACAF Champions League.

After two tough matches in league play, this was a good opportunity for the Whitecaps to build some confidence and get their season properly underway. While you can question the level of competition, these early round matchups in the CCL can be a landmine, especially for a team that is not in great form. So big credit goes to the Whitecaps for taking care of business and making their job significantly easier for the return fixture in Honduras (we all know how tough those trips can be).

I’ll keep the player grades reasonably brief because there’s only so much you can take away from a match that plays out like this. That being said, there’s still a few worthy talking points.

Yohei Takaoka (7.5): The Japanese keeper was not busy but he did have to make a big early save as the Whitecaps settled into the match. He’s been off to a strong start in Vancouver.

Mathias Laborda (7.5): The Argentine was solid at the back and did get involved offensively with 3 key passes. That being said, his crossing left something to be desired going just 1 for 7 in that category.

Ranko Veselinovic (7.5): Not too much to say about Ranko really. He only missed 2 of his 46 passes and was generally calm marshalling things at the back. Hopefully he is good to go again on the weekend.

Tristan Blackmon (8.5): Blackmon talked about how much he loved this competition in the lead up and he made an immediate impact, scoring a goal and adding a couple of key shot blocks. Great to see.

Ryan Raposo (8.5): Ideally, Raposo’s showing should convince Vanni Sartini to move away from Luis Martins at left back. Not only does Raposo have good service from wide areas, but he can also cut inside and make himself a threat, as evidenced by his goal. He was equally active defensively with 3 interceptions and 2 tackles.

Julian Gressel (8.0): Gressel continues to thrive in his midfield role. He had 1 assist and 4 key passes in this one.

Andres Cubas (7.5): Hard to fault the defensive-mid in a match where he had much less to do than the first two matches in league play.

Ryan Gauld (9.0): The Scotsman’s quality really shone through in this match, as he easily cut apart the Real Espana defence, recording two assists. Nice to see Gauld’s legs rested a bit in the second half as well – should be a positive sign for the weekend.

Pedro Vite (7.5): After a quiet match down in San Jose, it was good to see Vite find the back of the net midweek. He also recorded 3 key passes and won 5 of his 9 ground duels in this match.

Cristian Dajome (7.5): I feel like Dajome really thrives in the wide-open matches that the early rounds of the CCL create. He was buzzing on Wednesday, taking on defenders 1v1 and making some nice passes.

Sergio Cordova (6.5): It was nice to see the new striker get 60+ minutes in this match. With Brian White finding the back of the net though, I do wonder who will get the start this weekend of those two. Cordova provides a nice target in the box for Vancouver, but he still looks like he lacks a bit of confidence with his new side. Hopefully as he shakes off the rust, he will regain his killer instinct in front of goal – the Whitecaps will need that this season.

Vanni Sartini (6.5): The gaffer deployed the XI necessary to build a strong lead before heading down to Honduras. He also managed to keep some key legs reasonably fresh for this upcoming weekend against FC Dallas. The true test of Sartini is what he is going to do with the backline going forward. Hopefully, the CCL success pushes the manager in the right direction.

How are you feeling after the midweek CCL affair? Let me know what you think in the comments.