Rennie blunder cancels Bonjour beautyJune 21, 2012 at 8:46 pm | Posted in Vancouver Whitecaps, Whitecaps Season 2012 | 10 Comments
Who is foolish enough to think that bringing a lesser footballer on as a substitute for a better footballer is the way to protect a lead? Whitecaps coach Martin Rennie, apparently.
With the Vancouver Whitecaps up 1-0 over the Visiting New York Red Bulls in the 80th minute, Rennie took Davide Chiumiento off and put Jordan Harvey on. The logic makes some sense: take off a predominantly offensive flair player off and replace him with a predominantly defensive player to see the game out. There is also the “fresh legs” rationale. Six minutes after Harvey came on, the Red Bulls had equalized. Worse, the goal came from Harvey’s side, though the entire Whitecaps team was guilty of very poor defending on the Red Bull’s equalizer. The Whitecaps disappeared entirely on the play as though they were actors in a cheap Las Vegas magic show. The reality is they simply stood and watched the Red Bulls score a goal. It was a complete and stunning defensive breakdown.
The result is we are now top of the league table in ties, level with Houston.
Rennie should have taken note of what happened against Colorado last Saturday: in that game he brought Harvey on late to defend a lead and the team virtually collapsed, only to be saved by the late addition of Hassli, who gave the team the ability to hold the ball. The best way to defend a lead is not to pack your own 18 yard box and wait for the other team to attack; it is better to keep posession of the ball so the other team can’t score. Once Chiumiento was taken off last night, the Whitecaps effectively gave more posession of the ball to New York, who soon took advantage and scored.
Rennie should not have made the same mistake twice.
Martin Bonjour was the player of the match for the Whitecaps. He defended staunchly, (with the exception of the Red Bull’s goal), and scored a beauty in the 75th minute. It was nice to see him score because he works so hard, is so consistent, and so humble. The way he finished that opportunity I believe we will see a few more from him this year. This is what I love about Argentinian football: even the defenders have good footballing technique. Davide Chiumiento was the provider with a fantastic move on the right flank to get himself clear to put in a deadly cross that could have found any number of Whitecaps players, who were lining up to put the ball in the net. Luckily enough it fell to Bonjour.
The drama around our strikers was laid bare for all to see as an out of favour Camillo was given the start only to squander some very good opportunities and generally play poorly. Eric Hassli again came on as a sub two-thirds the way into the match. Even though these were our two best strikers last year and our top goal scorers, the shocking thing was how we really missed Darren Mattocks, the guy who was playing college soccer last year. Why we start the match with only one striker when we have so many on the roster is beyond me. Frankly, it is a bit of an embarrassment to be starting home matches with only one guy up front.
I am not sure if it was the late 8:00 PM start, but both teams were sluggish, as was the crowd. It is surprising the Red Bulls didn’t show up in their pyjamas, with the three hour time difference meaning the game started at 11PM Eastern time. The Red Bulls made their intention clear from the start: plug up the midfield, stifle the Whitecaps with aggressive physical play, and try to leave with a draw.
The Whitecaps failed to use the flanks to get around the logjam in the middle. The result was a dull match. I would expect more of the New York Red Bulls, one of the supposed best franchises in MLS. They showed disrespect to the Whitecaps and to us fans by leaving their best players, Henry and Marques, at home. Even their bloody coach did not bother to show up! Our geographic location and the fact we do not play on natural grass worked against us. If we had a nice grass pitch I believe we might have seen both players.
After a number of very exciting matches, it was inevitable that we would have a dull one, especially with the poor attitude the New York Red Bulls brought into our city. Perhaps MLS should take a look at these midweek games involving long travel. It does not produce good football, as last night’s game proved.