Poor centre midfield frustrates ‘Caps against ChivasApril 17, 2011 at 6:33 am | Posted in Whitecaps Season 2011 | 6 Comments
Oh well, after three thrilling home matches on the trot, we were due for a bit of dud. Although the Whitecaps had four or five clear chances to score, the majority of the Whitecaps play was poor and disjointed today.
The fact is, the Whitecaps football Mojo was just not there against Chivas. The reason was glaringly obvious: our centre midfield pairing was poor. Kevin Harmse and Jeb Brovsky worked hard all game and deserve credit for it, but they were unable to provide consistent quality passes to the Whitecaps strikers or wide midfielders. These two spent the whole game chasing the game and fumbling about losing the ball easily. While they might play well with another central midfielder, as a pairing they were poor. The first touch let these two guys down on many occasions. Both lacked any flair or guile. Chiumineto had no centre midfielders to play off of and looked isolated from the rest of the team the whole game, as if playing in his own universe. If anything, todays’s centre midfield pairing proved the worth of Dunfield and Koffie; the team has not played well since we lost these two. While the Whitecaps have a wealth of capable strikers, we have a shortage of midfield depth once our starting centre midfielders get injured.
Prey Terry Dunfield and John Thorington get back from injury soon and hope Ghana under 20’s fail in World Cup qualifying as well so we can get Gershon Koffie back ASAP. We need these guys in centre midfield because they play attractive football as well. The last two games have been brutal to watch from a football quality viewpoint due to their absence.
Without a strong central midfield, the team plays like a bunch of spokes with no wheel. I must say this is the second match in a row that Teitur Thordarson has failed to field a team which can play attractive passing football the likes of which we saw in the earlier matches. Absences due to injuries and suspensions has led to a lack of cohesion and understanding between the players.
On the bright side, our defence was sharp tonight. Keeper Jay Nolly played a superb game making two key close range stops and catching a seemingly endless number of crosses. I suppose we can celebrate our first clean sheet, although celebrating good defending is just not that much fun! The fact is we got a bit lucky today because we gave up too many corner kicks, which is a sign of a lack of fitness and desperate defending. If not for Nolly’s excellent form with catching crosses, we could easily have lost the game off of a corner kick.
Having said all of this, we could have won the game and had a bunch of chances to score: Hassli hit the post; Wes Knight hit the post and had two more clear scoring chances (he should have scored on a far post header); Khalfan brought a fine save from the Chivas keeper in the 90th minute; and Salgado put a goalmouth header over the bar near the death. Chivas, however, had more of the ball during the game, and had long periods of uninterrupted possession.
We are starting to learn a number of things about this year’s Vancouver Whitecaps. We seem to have sorted our defence out, and we have an abundance of quality up front to score goals. One piece of the puzzle which is yet to be solved is our centre midfield. It has become glaringly obvious we lack enough depth there.
If the last two games are any indication, we will be watching some pretty poor football until our centre midfield absences get sorted out. Perhaps it is time for Paul Barber to get the check book out and sign another high quality centre midfielder.