Same again in Colorado for the Whitecaps

July 11, 2011 at 7:53 pm | Posted in Whitecaps Season 2011 | 1 Comment

The Vancouver Whitecaps most recent loss followed a familiar script: we gave up goals on a couple on defensive errors and scored one goal which showed great promise for the future.

Conor Casey is a known quality striker for the Colorado Rapids so it is a mystery why he was given so much space to roam about unmarked for virtually the entire match.  It was as if Whitecaps defenders Rochat and Boxall fought over who would cover him and came to the conclusion that neither would.  Though Casey was the biggest scoring threat for Colorado, the Caps stuck with a zonal defence in which Casey often found himself running free with the ball in ten metres of space on all sides of him.  This lack of man marking on Casey led to both goals.  In the first goal he ran completely unopposed into the Whitecaps 18 yard box with plenty of room around him to score Colorado’s first goal off of a cross from teammate Smith.  Boxall was the closest man to him, but such was the distance between him and Casey that the ball was very easily chipped over Boxall’s head to Casey who scored without feeling any contact from a Whitecaps defender.

If Rochat is to move to the middle in a central defensive role, they had better figure out how they are going to mark the strikers or we will keep bleeding goals.  While Rochat plays the ball wonderfully out of the back, the truth is he is not that great of a central defender, so his partner had better be one.  Boxall was poor on the night and was replaced by Janicki in the middle of the second half.  Central defenders should play the entire match to keep the team solid; the fact we had to replace a central defender brought into clear view the weakness in the Whitecaps defence.

In the first half generally, the Whitecaps looked completely shapeless and devoid of any inspiration.  Caps Coach Soehn did not have Salinas because of suspension, and Hassli, Chiumiento, and DeMerit were all unavailable through injury.  It showed, as the Caps lacked any ideas on how to move the ball forward into Colorado’s half.   Nanchoff played and had some early touches, but eventually I forgot he was on the pitch until he appeared in a close up on the tele towards the end of the match.  He had no positive impact upon the game whatsoever.

The good news is that new left back Jordan Harvey looked very solid indeed and even got stuck in for  yellow card, a good sign for a defender! He played a key role in the string of passes which led to the Whitecap’s goal with a deft one touch pass to Long Tan.  Look for Harvey to start all matches at left back from here on in, provided he is fit.  He will miss Saturday’s match through suspension, however, having accumulated too many yellow cards.

Vagenas was mediocre again, playing in the holding midfielder role.  His job seems to be to distribute short dinky passes (often of very poor quality) from the centre of midfield, which have very limited effect.   His problem is he lacks the vision to make a pass that is going to open up the opposing defence.  Frankly, for all of his mistakes, I would rather have Dunfield out there in that position because he at least tries to make an attacking pass. I have yet to see Vagenas make one pass that has resulted in a chance on goal for us whereas Dunfield has created goals and scored one.  It is no coincidence that we made our best move of the match after Vagenas was substituted.  All of this may become academic because the Whitecaps are apparently on the verge of making a big signing to be announced tomorrow, and I am expecting it to be a midfielder who could put both Vagenas and Dunfield on the bench.

Vagenas: I prefer Dunfield

Colorado’s second goal was from a powerful header from Casey (who again won a header in our box completely unmarked and unopposed) which Cannon did well to save, but in doing so he parried the ball directly to Palguta who  easily tapped home the ball.  While Cannon did well to get to the ball, he got both hands to it and should have either caught it or controlled the direction of the ball with open hands rather than punching with his fists directly to Palguta’s feet.  When you look at the replay from behind the goal it is clear Cannon could have done better.  Two defensive errors, 2-0 Colorado.

This game proved again that at this level, defensive errors are punished in a league where players have the quality to take advantage of them to score goals.

While the Whitecaps looked dreadful for the most part in this match. Just when I wondered why I keep watching the Whitecaps, they  scored a beautifully executed goal in the 77th minute, rather like their goal against Philadelphia.  The ball went through Janicki, Rochat, Harvey, Tan, Khalfan and finally Camilo, who rounded the keeper expertly to score.  Rochat did what we have hoped he would do by making a visionary pass to Harvey who was open on the left side; Khalfan also played a beautifully weighted ball through to Camilo for the goal. It was a great example of team play and how to move the ball in football. It makes me wonder: if the Whitecaps are capable of scoring these kind of goals, what the hell are they doing for the other 89 minutes of the match?  If the Whitecaps can move the ball in this way more often we would be winning many more matches. But why does it happen so rarely?

Lovely pass, Khally!

Even though it was another loss, the Whitecaps young patchwork side held up respectably against the team that won the MLS Cup last year.  The fact we lost by a narrow margin, and were playing without key players, suggests to me that if we make the right signings during the transfer window, we are not far off of having a squad which could be truly competitive.

A test of the strength of our squad will be the arrival in town of one of the best sides in the MLS: Real Salt Lake.  Lets pray Hassli and Chiumiento are fit by then.  We will need them to avoid an embarrassing home loss to a team that is capable of delivering us a beating.


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  1. Soehn Out!

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