Poor leadership makes Whitecaps crash to earth in San JoseApril 8, 2012 at 11:24 pm | Posted in Whitecaps Season 2012 | 8 Comments
The Vancouver Whitecaps set a record today in San Jose for the longest number of minutes without conceding a goal in a new season. They then celebrated by conceding three goals in the space of ten minutes soon after setting the record.
The hottest striker in Major League Soccer going into the match was Chris Wondolowski. For some reason the Whitecaps managed to convince themselves that he did not exist on two occasions, and he scored both times. One of the hallmarks of Martin Rennie’s side this year has been the sharpness of the team and excellent mental preparation for matches. In San Jose Rennie’s men lost their sharpness, fell asleep on 67 minutes, and never woke up. They surrendered a commanding 1-0 lead in the process and lost 1-3. What was worse was the fact it was our leaders who let the team down.
Jay Demerit and Martin Bonjour, who have been so alert and played so well all season, lost their concentration in the 67th minute, falling prey to the “no offsides on a throw in rule”. San Jose’s hulking captain (and apparently the only player left from the MLS’ inaugural season) Ramiro Corrales found himself with the ball for a throw in. He spotted striker Wondolowski lurking behind Jay DeMerit and threw the ball to him. When DeMerit awoke to see that Wondolowski was about to get through alone on goal with the ball, he made a rookie’s error. Instead of putting himself between the striker and the goal, he gambled and tried to intercept the ball. It was a bad decision. He failed to reach the ball and “Wondo” was in alone on our keeper Joe Cannon. After all of his incredible saves this season, Cannon flopped down pathetically like piece of limp lettuce and surrendered the entire goal to Wondolowski who scored with an easy chip shot. I know these two are friends from playing together in the past, but that was ridiculous!
Sadly our fantastic defensive streak was lost to basic mistakes made by two of our veterans who should have done much better. Our veterans are supposed to be our leaders, but Cannon and DeMerit let the team down in San Jose. It was all downhill from this point.
That man Corrales again played provider on the second goal for San Jose when he found himself with the ball unmolested on the left wing. YP Lee (another of our sleepy veterans) slowly moved to close him down, but not before Corrales used his left foot to curl in a superb cross for Gordon (a Whitecaps reject) to deftly deflect with a diving header into the far corner. After not allowing a goal in more than four and a half matches, we had given up two in five minutes.
The Whitecaps then made it three goals conceded in 10minutes, and this time it was Jordan Harvey who was the sleepy goat. The Whitecaps again let Wondolowski stand all alone unmarked at the far post when a cross came in from a free kick. One thing a striker should not be able to do is calmly slot home a high cross at the far post with his foot; he must surely only score with a header if our defence is doing its job. Harvey gave “Wondo” plenty of room to work, misjudged the height of the cross, and proved the thesis that white men can’t jump. Jordan must have got his little body about four inches off of the ground with his jumping effort, only to miss the ball completely. This left the lonely looking Wondolowski to accept his second ribbon-tied gift of the match. Why keeper Cannon had not alerted his defence to Wondolowski standing alone at the far post is anybody’s guess.
While the 2012 Whitecaps are a far superior team to the 2011 squad, I don’t recall the Whitecaps surrendering three goals in ten minutes all of last season. It is sad to say, but the squad has gotten a bit complacent with the small modicum of success they have had in the 2012 season. Time for the Whitecaps to wake up: we are still crap!
It had all looked so good when, in the 49th minute, Eric Hassli provided Seb Le Toux with a lovely pass deep into San Jose’s penalty box for a sharp finish by the skinny one to give the Whitecaps a 0-1 lead. The Whitecaps were pushing for a second and should have been awarded a penalty kick when John Thorrington was mugged in the penalty area in full view of the Referee. Thor had earlier hit the crossbar in the first half and must be wondering what he has to do to get some good luck in a Whitecaps uniform. I thought he was our best player of the match, but sadly he received no reward for it at all.
Alas, the Whitecaps second goal never came, and the whole pattern we have become used to this season was reversed: we generated lots of chances and played very well in the final third, but our defensive effort was deplorable, a disgrace to the uniform. Rather than celebrating our back four, we have been left scratching our heads after the San Jose match wondering how they could be so incredibly bad.
Thankfully the team now has a week and a half to lick their wounds and to get their minds back on track before they meet the hottest team in Major League Soccer, Sporting Kansas City. Sporting have won all five of their matches. Martin Rennie had better get his troops prepared, because it is one thing to be embarrassed on the road, but at home such a poor performance would be unforgivable.