Rennie blunder cancels Bonjour beauty

June 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.

Bonjour’s handiwork

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.

Battle in the box: Photos by Monique L

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.



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  1. I am going to lay the goat horns at Le Toux’s feet on the goal, though you are correct that it was a collective failure. Le Toux left his man (Heath) to go ball watching thus allowing Heath a free header to equalize. You can not falt Le Toux work rate but he can not pass, he is reluctant to shoot when he has a clear chance, and his first touch is beyond brutal. Sit him out next game!

    • totally agree about Le Toux. why he plays every minute of every game is beyond me.

  2. I’ll chip in with my .02 worth as well. We’re so stockpiled with FWDs that the inventory is getting rusty on the bench. Camilo was absolutely brutal in his finishing. I can only imagine how poor Tan, Harris, or Barbara will be if they ever see the pitch again.

    Also, it would be remiss not to mention how solidly John Thorrington played in MF. I’m rather “meh” on the guy, but I have to say he stood out in that game. His run into the box just before the half was stunning.

  3. This is looking to be Rennie’s MO to switch to full-stop defending far too early. When he made that sub, three things went through my mind: First, WTF not Harvey? Second, way too soon, what happens if the Red Cows score? And three, haven’t we seen this before?

    You don;t have to be the Special One to know that NYRB would have to open it up as soon as they fell down a goal. They had been playing for the draw from the outset. No doubt frustrating the Caps more dynamic offensive players. The lead was going to open up space on the counter. Who better to exploit that than an in-form Chumiento? And then when NYRB he had to respond with an out-of-form, disgruntled Long Tan.

    I’m not a huge Rennie fan, nor am I a hater. I’m still reserving judgment. And while I think he knows how to build a team and create a positive environment for his players – all good attributes – he’s proving to be somewhat naive in terms of tactical moves and team selection. (This is not the first time this year the team has been blown a lead after going defensive. And let’s not forget the team selection against Revs.)

    Finally, how the hell is Jordan Harvey still in the line up? He’s this year’s version of Jonathan Leathers. For a fullback, he has not a clue how to defend. He lunges in and gets caught up the park. And he’s no left mid either. If they absolutely felt inclinded to make a sub, then Rennie should have put in Nanchoff.

  4. Bang on! Let’s hope we give LA a pasting Saturday night!

  5. Ever thought about calling this page “Whitecapsmanbitch”? If there’s another person on this planet who calls him- or herself a Caps fan and bitches about everything from the logo to the sub decisions, I’d like to meet them. You *really* think you understand coaching better than Rennie, or marketing better than professionals?

    • “…understand…marketing better than professionals?” You mean like the morons who tried to launch “new” Coke, or the dim bulbs who couldn’t figure out why the Chevy Nova wasn’t selling in SA? My sample poll showed 98% dislike for the brown kit – no so-called professional can spin that into a positive.

      • It’s the most popular 3rd jersey on and the recent Province poll put support for the jersey nearly even with detractors. There’s a moron here, but he ain’t in the Whitecaps FO…

      • Funny…I couldn’t find anything on the MLS website to confirm your assertion — could you share your evidence for this? Also, I couldn’t locate the Province poll you mentioned, but I did find the Vancouver Sun poll that has 61% against the 3rd kit:

  6. Hi it should be noted that it has been the last three games where the “send off Chuimento and bring in harvey” has backfired. The first game he came on, a missed tackle on Harveys side allowed the cross to Kandji, The next game he comes on and we drop into a defensive shell and if it wasnt fo the soccer gods we would have blown the lead. NYRB – same result hunker down into a shell until they break us down. It may have been poor defending but the reality is as many of you who have played, if you hunker down in your box and allow your oppenent to come in wave after wave its tough mentally and eventually you risk a mistake. I think Davide has proven he is fit, he actually can play defense and his ball skills keeps the other team honest/frightened because he is dangerous and can start a counter attack in an instant. So its not so much a “harvey” thing (reality Rochat looked bagged near the end) its more a matter of dropping into bunker-ball…best defense oftem is at least the threat of a good offence – Chiumento is that threat. Also I agree Thorrigton has been exceptional on this past homestand,

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