Whitecaps quality gap clear in Los Angeles

September 21, 2011 at 8:35 pm | Posted in Whitecaps Season 2011 | 5 Comments

Smug so-and-so...

When the Vancouver Whitecaps played in LA they looked like one of those smaller teams in Spain when they go to play Real Madrid or Barcelona.  At least we didn’t suffer the same fate as Osasuna, who visited Barcelona last Saturday and were beaten 8-0.  Prior to the match the Whitecaps sat last in Major League Soccer on 22 points and the LA Galaxy had 55.  We got no more or no less than was expected from the match: going in everyone felt the Galaxy would win, and an upset looked highly unlikely.

The difference in quality was palpable throughout the match, which was lost 0-3.  While the Whitecaps had plenty of possession, (at one point the stats showed us way ahead), we did not have the quality to put any sustained dangerous pressure on the Galaxy, who soaked up what little pressure there was with relative ease.  LA seemed happy to let us have the ball because they knew we wouldn’t do much with it.  LA made economical use of the ball when the Whitecaps pressed too far forward and punished us with ruthless efficiency.  All hopes of taking that smug look off of the face of LA manager Bruce Arena were dashed.

LA carries three high quality designated players in David Beckham, Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane.  All three have distinguished themselves both in club and international football at the highest levels.  Our designated players are Eric Hassli and Mustapha Jarju.  While no  one could complain about what Hassli has brought to us this year, he is not on the same level as any of LA’s designated players.  Thus far Jarju has been a complete bust. In terms of player quality it was a clear mismatch.

While Eric Hassli nearly scored on a low shot in the first half, the Whitecaps created few scoring chances to speak of.  Camilo did his best with his diving skills to get two penalty kicks, but with his reputation for diving the referees are getting to know him for all the wrong reasons.  I am convinced the second time Camilo went down it was a penalty, but he had already earned the referee’s contempt with a clear dive in the first half.

The sad fact is we are well behind in the quality department, and I suspect Soehn has taken this team as far as it is going to go.  The Whitecaps clearly must get rid of a lot of the squad and bring in more quality to the team.  I just don’t see where that burst of quality is going to come from that will take our win column higher in the remaining games.  We have a team which is good enough to compete, but not good enough to win regularly.  Arena himself had praise for the Whitcaps, who he thought had given his team a better match than the score reflected, but he was being a good sport.

All praise from Arena aside, our midfield was perfectly awful again and this area is killing us from game to game.  Gershon Koffie is the only player who is capable of tackling for the ball.  In order to have a team that can win, teams must fear your midfield.  That is where modern football games are won and lost. The fact is that Peter Vagenas is not frightening any opponent with any aspect of his game.  Opponents do not fear his tackles or his passes.  Neither he nor Koffie have the ability to threaten opponents with a quality ball that will set a striker free. Neither can shoot the ball with any accuracy. Salinas simply never gets the ball and is still not strong or fast enough to consistently be a threat.  Chimiento can make that special pass but also seldom gets the ball.

The Whitecaps are one of the best supported teams in MLS.  In order to keep it that way, and in order to fulfil the lofty goals stated by the club itself, we need more quality on the pitch.



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  1. In general I agree with what you have said but I think we have a solid nucleus to build from (DeMeritt, Rochat, Koffie, Camillo, Hassli, Chiumiento, Harris) and we don’t need to make wholesale changes. I think a number of players that are playing first team right now (Salinas, Thorrington, Leathers, etc.) need to be kept as reserve player in case of emergency. Actually, If we got a creative midfielder, a strong centre back and a good right back I think we would instantly become a playoff contender. I also think that some players (Chiumiento, Salinas, Russell Teibert) could blossom under Martin Rennie and become more consistent players. In short, I agree with Teitur Thordarson, Tom Soehn, Bobby L, Paul Barber and most of the teams we have played against – we are not far off being a winning team

    • funnily enough all the positions you just listed, we had someone who could do the job okay and they got released. Terry Dunfield (I know he technically didn’t get released but we still got nothing for hm) while he was not quite starter quality, was the closest thing we had to a central midfielder who could play the ball (koffie will get better at this but he is by no means ready to run the midfield).at center back we had Mouloud Akloul while like Dunfield he was not starter quality but he was doing the same job as rochait is now. rachait was playing left beack and now we are forced to endure the horrors of jordan harvey because alain was moved to center back (where akloul was doing exactly the same thing as we are doing now).Akloul was the closest thing we had to a center back who could move the ball out. at right back we had wes knight. yes he was on the bench but now we have only Jonathon Leathers (and apparently jeb brovsky and john thorrington) to fill that spot.

      • I agree about Akloul, I really don’t think he was given much of a chance. I think he only played 6-7 games which seems very impatient but yet they waited (patiently) for a year for him to recover from injury. Utterly baffling.

        On the other hand I was delighted to see the back of Terry. I love his heart and running and it was great that he was a local boy but on at least 3 occasions he turned over the ball near our net which directly resulted in goals being scored against us (most notable the Columbus Crew game). When one player directly causes the team lose games he just has to go. At this level mistakes like that will be punished and we just can not afford it

  2. i think Soehn should drop Vagenas and put Thorrington into the centre of the park, put a bit more bite into centre mid.

    • Now you’re thinking: but will he last the game?

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