Pathetic in Portland: Vancouver Whitecaps in crisisAugust 27, 2012 at 8:23 pm | Posted in Vancouver Whitecaps | 10 Comments
The Vancouver Whitecaps hit what is hopefully the lowest point in the 2012 season on Saturday night in Portland. The Whitecaps are sinking like a stone in the Western conference, with yet another key player, Darren Mattocks, suspended for the next match after receiving a red card for nothing.
Major League Soccer officials in the form of referees and the disciplinary committee are stealing so many points away from us that they should be given a place in the Western Conference standings.
Referee David Gantar sent Darren Mattocks off for nothing. The Portland defender had his hand up on Mattocks and was Mattocks was trying to take it off. It was essentially a battle for position. He was sent off after some lengthy committee discussion between the ref and some other official over the ref’s headphones. It was yet another unbelievable decision, the kind of decision which brings the MLS into disrepute. Gantar was clearly not paying attention to what was going on in any event. At first he thought Dane Richards had fouled the defender. If it was really a red card offence, I am sure he would have seen which guy actually committed the foul.
After watching football for many years I have never seen such an incredibly bad run of calls suffered by a football team. Don Garber should be hanging his head in shame.
Terrible officiating aside, the whitecaps were awful for most of the match. Our Keeper Joe Cannon singlehandedly threw away the match with a bad goalkeeping error which should see him riding the bench for the next match. Cannon brings a lot of humour to the team, but that was so funny I forgot to laugh. The look on Kenny Miller’s face after he witnessed Cannon’s mistake said it all: the Whitecap’s bubble burst on that play.
I felt sorry for Miller because he scored a pure striker’s goal to open his account for the Whitecaps to tie up the match on the halftime whistle. I had felt that if we could get Miller going, the rest of the team might just follow. Cannon did not decide to follow. The Whitecaps had their tails up until Cannon’s error.
Gershon Koffie sat out the match, and the result was the Whitecaps had trouble keeping possession of the ball all night. John Thorrington was put into the suspended Koffie’s place, but his lack of ability to score or create goals, and his inability to help the team retain possession of the ball make me wonder why he is even in the squad at all.
It had to be said that the game could really have gone either way: Camilo nearly equalized on a close range effort from an angle in the 74th minute, and O’Brien nearly scored off of a close range header. The result could have been different. The fiery redhead Barry Robson also had a good shot in the second half. The difference between victory and defeat is very close indeed.
The Whitecaps now face the next match in LA without Mattocks, and Andy O’Brien also limped off of the pitch with what appeared to be a quad injury. Today we learned that Dane Richards is riding off into the sunset to Burnley after this season is over.
It is all looking very bleak at this point in the season. The Whitecaps have lost 4 of their last 5 matches. We fans have travelled great distances in the last two matches only to see the team play very poorly.
What has gone wrong?
The Barry Robson effect has proven to be a bit of a bust so far: since he has joined, the Whitecaps have played 11 games with 3 wins, 2 ties and 6 losses. In the previous eleven MLS matches the Whitecaps had 5 wins, 3 ties and 3 losses. Robson has spent a good deal of his time on the pitch being nasty to his teammates, including captain Jay DeMerit. From the body language I see, his team mates don’t like him very much. He has seemingly been brought in to be a leader but perhaps he is more of a dictator than a leader.
Massive turnover in the squad has broken up key relationships in the squad, and a very different squad dynamic has taken over which I don’t think the players are enjoying.
Disciplinary issues with the MLS have taken their toll on the team, with bad decisions robbing the Whitecaps of key players for big matches. Koffie and Robson were not available in Seattle and Portland respectively, and now Mattocks will be gone for the next match, barring an appeal of his red card by the Whitecaps.
The Whitecaps played the Portland match last Saturday night like a team of unhappy players whose minds were elsewhere. Some bad dynamics have taken over the squad, and the positive start to the season that Coach Martin Rennie brought to the club has turned very sour indeed. The honeymoon is over.
The Whitecaps now look like the 2011 squad: a bunch of players who look like they would rather be somewhere else or expect to be somewhere else soon. I have no idea what is going to turn this around.