Big mistakes by big players cost Whitecaps in Salt Lake City

July 28, 2012 at 8:37 pm | Posted in Whitecaps Season 2012 | 2 Comments

Make no mistake about it, the Vancouver Whitecaps played one of their best away games ever in Salt Lake last night. Early in the second half the Whitecaps had the formidably talented Real Salt Lake on the ropes, ready to give the knockout punch. Sadly, it was not to be as big mistakes by our big players cost us the match.

The lack of depth at centre-back was exposed last night as Jay DeMerit, clearly exhausted from playing the entire Major League Soccer All-Star match against Chelsea on Wednesday night (how the hell did that happen?), had to play again 48 hours later. If we had a good deputy, Jay could have sat out the match. Earlier in the season Carlyle Mitchell took Jay’s place in the New England match only to have a nightmare of a match. DeMerit’s exhaustion played a major part in the loss, as he fouled Kyle Beckerman in the box thirty or so minutes into the match, and made a foolish back pass which resulted in Joe Cannon being sent off in the second half. I am not sure what it was that the referee saw for the penalty kick, but it was pretty clear that Jay assaulted Beckerman, although the ref could have thought that Jay handled the ball as well. Either way, it was 1-0 for RSL.

Nick Rimando, RSL’s goalkeeper had a bad match, and was ripe for the picking. He was terrible on crosses, and indecisive on many plays. In the second half Camilo put a streaking Darren Mattocks through alone on Rimando, who completely misjudged the ball and let Mattocks go around him to slot the ball home to tie the match at 1-1. If only Mattocks had taken the three other clear chances he had in front of goal, we could have won the match with a hatfull of goals. While I give Mattocks credit for getting into scoring positions and for scoring 7 goals this year, his actual goals per chance ratio is not that great. We also learned he has no left foot, as two chances fell to his left foot and he missed the net on both. There were plenty of shocked and embarrassed looks from Mattocks.

Jun Marques Davidson nearly provided a goal to put us ahead in the second half after Mattock fed him a good pass at the top of the box on a counter attack. It was agony for Davidson and every Whitecaps fan as his cool effort, which clearly had Rimando beaten, bounced off of the upright. A few minutes later, and RSL showed their footballing class with Saborio heading in a cross over our usually reliable Martin Bonjour, who got caught flat-footed and was out jumped on the play.

It was a terrible time to give up a goal because RSL were clearly struggling to keep up with the Whitecaps, who were visibly fitter, even in the Salt Lake City heat. The Whitecaps looked likely to tie it up when DeMerit’s ill advise back pass from the flank near the centre line was easily intercepted by RSL striker Espindola, who put the ball next to Cannon, who handled it outside of the box. He was ejected. The Whitecaps still fought back even from this, with Barry Robson heroically striving to level the match until the very end.

There was more embarrassment in the Whitecaps camp as Kenny Miller ended up with his head in his hands as he squandered a golden opportunity to tie the match late on. Miller looked in good shape and demonstrated dangerous speed and work rate in the 20 minutes he had, but when Dane Richards gave him a perfect cross right on his head at the far post with the whole goal yawning in front of him, Miller headed the ball astonishingly wide. No doubt it was a difficult header because he had to come back a bit to get to the ball, but I would expect a striker of his calibre to put that in, or at least hit the goal. At the end of the match he clasped his head in agony, knowing he missed our best chance to tie the match.

But for the mistakes which cost us the match, there was plenty to be happy about in this game. The Whitecaps again showed they can play with the top teams in the MLS; they clearly put enormous pressure on RSL, who struggled to cope. It was odd that it was not our rookies who made the mistakes that cost the match, but our top players. As for DeMerit, all is forgiven, because it was too much to ask him to play two games in 48 hours. As for Miller, he clearly still needs time to train to get his striking skills back after a long layoff from his time with Cardiff.



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  1. Richards and Robson look like great additions to the team, my gut says that three in a row is unlikely ….i think miller in the end may end up a bust for the Whitecaps in 2012 im afraid.

  2. Not a great weekend for the Whitecaps. Seattle and LA gain and Chivas is now 8 pts back with 3 games in hand for the 5th spot and on a hot streak. Caps need to bury their chances…its the lack of finish now that must be improved.

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