Poor team selection sinks Whitecaps in New EnglandMay 13, 2012 at 9:28 pm | Posted in Whitecaps Season 2012 | 1 Comment
Martin Rennie has given himself a reputation as a smart team manager in his coaching of the Whitecaps this season. He has turned a sad sack team around and made them play well. Tonight’s match in New England, a 1-4 loss for the Whitecaps, was Rennie’s poorest showing yet. While it is true the intense match schedule has made is difficult to put out his best squad, his choice of centre backs was disastrous.
To be fair to Rennie, the Canadian Championship on top of the Major League Soccer Schedule has thrown his squad into too many matches in too short a period. He had no alternative but to use his squad players. Both upcoming matches are big ones for the club. The Whitecaps front office wants to get a good head start in qualification for the CONCACAF champions league by beating Toronto FC in the first leg of the Canadian final this wednesday. Saturday’s match against arch-rival Seattle could be a turning point for playoff qualification in the Western Conference.
Centre back Carlyle Mitchell should consider himself lucky; he got free admission to watch a Major League Soccer match. Too bad he forgot he was supposed to be defending in it! Mitchell was strangely immobile and shy to take action. He seemed to just watch things happen around him rather than anticipate and react, as Jay DeMerit does. He defended too deeply with the rest of the line, which partnered him with Alain Rochat in the middle. Four goals were conceded by the Whitecaps in New England. Mitchell was a spectator for all of them. To make it worse, he appeared to be knocked out cold during the first half, and missed a sitter in the second half. It was, as they say, a nightmare for poor Mitchell.
Both Rochat and Mitchell stood there like pillars as New England’s front runners dribbled, passed and sprinted by them. I could understand resting one of our starting centre backs but sitting both was big mistake. Rochat has never been particularly convincing as a centre back; he was born to play left back. Rennie’s decision to sit both DeMerit and Bonjour turned out to have disastrous consequences.
Another mistaken selection was laid bare for all to see as Lee Nguyen, the player the Whitecaps tossed away before the season began because he was not good enough, scored two goals against us and set up a third. Ouch! Now that hurts!
Martin Rennie will have to use the New England match as an indication of the strength of his squad. While we seem to have a lot of talent to spare up front, our defensive quality down the middle is only as deep as our starting centre backs, and no deeper. This is a big problem should DeMerit or Bonjour get injured.