Whitecaps end first MLS season with Colorado lossOctober 23, 2011 at 6:13 pm | Posted in Whitecaps Season 2011 | 4 Comments
If the Whitecaps first season in Major League Soccer started with a bang with a 4-2 win against Toronto back on March 19, it ended with a whimper today against the reigning MLS champions Colorado. The Rapids beat us 1-2 , which had the effect of putting the Whitecaps at the bottom of the MLS table, even on points with the New England Revolution.
It was fan appreciation day, but the Whitecaps played like a team of strangers, abandoning the nice passing game they demonstrated recently in home matches against Real Salt Lake and DC United, for a choppy, disjointed game with little rhyme or reason to it at all. The first half had a couple of bright sparks, notably chances by Long Tan, Jordan Harvey and Nizar Khalfan, but these were rare moments in a half which was one of the poorest we have seen all season. I felt as if the team had dropped down a division and I was watching at Swangard Stadium again.
It was a match which contained two comical goalkeeping errors, which accounted for one marker for each team. First to make a fool of himself was Colorado’s keeper Pickens, who thought Alain Rochat’s curling free kick early in the second half was going wide and was mistaken. Pickens lifted his hands over his head hoping to see the ball go by the post, but it went into the net instead. It was a shocking display of poor goalkeeping at this level.
Not to be outdone, Joe Cannon had a clanger of his own ten minutes later when he let a low blast from a free kick from 19 yards out go through his legs into the net. All that was needed was a foot save but Cannon tried to scoop up the ball with both hand but was too slow. It was the worst goalkeeping error we have seen all season from the Whitecaps, and Joe must be kicking himself after playing so consistently well since being given the starting job over Jay Nolly since the away match against Portland on August 20.
Colorado’s Thompson scored a third goal from a long shot which deflected off of Jay DeMerit’s foot as he attempted to block. I am not sure if it is bad luck, but Jay seems to have played a part in far too many goals this year. Had Jay let the shot go, Cannon would have stopped it. Sometimes it is just better to let the keeper take responsibility rather than risking a deflection with a desperate lunge. Jay’s all out approach to defending is admirable, but he should take a leaf from Rochat’s book and use his brains a bit more.
Out of favour stars Hassli and Chiumiento, who were certain starters for the Whtiecaps at the beginning of the season, sat on the bench for most of the match. Jarju did not play at all. Long Tan and Nizar Khalfan were preferred. I was puzzled that Hassli did not start, and that he did not get more minutes. Our most expensive players missed the better part of the last few games.
Chiumiento has missed most of the last six games. I doubt if all three of these players will be back, and the writing is on the wall for Chiumiento, whose offensive talents are massive, but who can’t or won’t defend. Chiumiento gave his all tonight when he came on as a sub, trying to demonstrate he can work hard and defend, but it all looked a bit desperate. I don’t think Martin Rennie will like him, and I would pick him as the player to leave in the off season.
All in all, the fact that three of what are supposed to be our best players started on the bench demonstrates what a sad sack year it has been. Ideally, an MLS team’s designated players should be certain to start, and the more expensive players who are not designated players should also be starting if they are fit. Instead, budget players Brovsky, Khalfan and Tan, who make very little money at all, are being preferred. All of this means there is a major reshuffling of the deck coming, with either money being redistributed or players simply being bought out of contracts or not being renewed.
After today’s and this season’s bad showing the team needs some shock therapy. I hope Martin Rennie makes some bold moves after the training camp he will conduct in the next few weeks. Another year like this would be unbearable.
It was interesting to note that the Whitecaps held their own against games played by both the BC Lions, who were playing in Hamilton and on TV, and the Vancouver Canucks, who played Minnesota earlier in the day. I was struck at how many Vancouver sports fans made their was straight from Rogers Arena to BC Place once the Canucks were finished.
It is a bold new era for Vancouver sports fans. Now if only we could get a decent team on the pitch…