Bad calls bounce Vancouver Whitecaps from playoffs

November 2, 2012 at 10:06 am | Posted in Whitecaps Season 2012 | 9 Comments

Last night’s knockout match in Los Angeles proved that Martin Rennie does actually have some tactical intelligence, and also that Matt Watson is actually capable of playing football. Both did their jobs well, but some atrocious refereeing saw to it that the glamour boys of LA would march on in the playoffs just as Major League Soccer had hoped.

Within a few minutes of the start the Whitecaps were up one goal through some fine play by Matt Watson. We had seen absolutely nothing from this guy in previous appearances, but all of the sudden he looked like the Pele of Vancouver when he beat LA’s right fullback with a nifty move and sprinted down the wing past him. He then took the ball deep into LA territory and executed a perfect side footed pass to Darren Mattocks, who hit the ball first time into the net off of the post with his right foot. After all of the awful play we have seen from the Whitecaps in the second half of the season, this goal came as a nothing less than a shock, because the Whitecaps made it look so easy! We had one chance and one goal. It was the perfect start, and right on script for Martin Rennie’s match plan.

The other part of the match plan came into effect immediately after the goal as the Whitecaps hunkered down defensively in their own end and attempted to absorb the constant pressure of LA’s attacks. The possession figures on the screen had Vancouver with not even 30 percent of the ball.

Brad Knighton cemented his reputation by playing an excellent first half, making spectacular saves off of David Beckham and Juninho and fearlessly coming out of his goal to punch away crosses. At the half we had the lead, our defence was frustrating the Galaxy, and we had a confident goalkeeper on a hot streak. It was all going according to plan.

The Whitecaps continued the plan until they failed to execute properly in the turning point of the match. As LA threw men forward in number trying to get the tying goal, the Whitecaps were sure to get at least one more chance to score on the counter attack.

The chance came midway through the second half as Watson, Miller and Robson charged towards LA’s goal opposed by only three defenders who were struggling to catch up with them. Watson and Miller executed a superb one-two passing play which left Watson with a point blank shot on goal just inside the 18 yard box. He got a lot of power on the ball, but failed to direct it properly, and gave LA keeper Josh Saunders the chance to stop the ball he never should have had. The rebound fell to the hapless Kenny Miller, who had a classic striker’s goal teed up for him to finish. Not for the first time this season, Miller had the goal wide open in front of him and the keeper down and out. He hit the ball but it was clearly going wide of the net when it hit a defender and bounced to Barry Robson. Robson found himself on his weaker right foot and tried to pull the ball back to his left foot. By this time it was too late, the LA defenders had recovered and Robson’s weak shot accomplished nothing. The failure of these three to execute at a crucial time turned the match for Los Angeles, who marched the ball back down the field, won a corner, and then scored as the exhausted Whitecaps got caught ball watching.

On the same play poor Jay DeMerit, our courageous captain, pulled up with a groin injury. Martin Bonjour replaced him. Mere minutes later a charging Landon Donovan threw his body into Bonjour and fell down into the penalty box. Can you guess what happened next? Referee Petrescu, blinded by the stars of the LA Galaxy, called a penalty. It was a clear illustration of the poor quality of refereeing in MLS, which is damaging the credibility of the league. Petrescu bought a big pack of lies from Donovan, who then dispatched the penalty past Knighton to give LA the lead. The match plan had fallen apart,and the Whitecaps were on the ropes.

John Thorrington provided the Whitecaps with one last hope as he charged into the box with the ball late on in the game. He cut back and was caught by the trailing leg of the LA centre back and went down in the area. It was more of a penalty than the Donovan penalty but unfortunately for Thorrington he was wearing the wrong colour of jersey and the penalty was not given. The Match fizzled out from this point on, and the Whitecaps season was over.

I hope that our owners register a complaint with the league over this clearly incompetent display by the referee. At this level and in this kind of match, the referee should not be deciding the result with such poor calls.

The good news was the Whitecaps actually showed up for this match, displaying effort, tactical intelligence and skill which they have kept so hidden from us in the second half of the season. What they could not cope with was the star power of the LA Galaxy and the effect of that on the referee.

One message the Whitecaps need to take from this game is the effect of star power. The LA Galaxy have Beckham, Keane and Donovan, while we boast Miller and Robson, two relative unknowns.

The Whitecaps need to enhance the quality of our squad with some real stars the referees and the league will recognize. This way we will get the respect of the league and fair calls from the referees.

It has been all to easy this year for MLS and its officials to mistreat our team with astonishingly bad calls and decisions, both on and off the pitch.

It is the time our ownership group demanded respect from the league; we did not join up just to be cannon fodder for the likes of the LA Galaxy.



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  1. Donovan certainly appeared to go down easy, but the call was debatable. What wasn’t debatable were the THREE Grade-A scoring opportunities in the 67′ — all missed. Two of them by our Scottish DPs. Watson had an incredible match, easily his best as a Whitecap, and a far, far better showing than any other he’s had in MLS. Still, he’s no sniper, and his blast right at Saunders was forgivable, if not predictable. Miller got the second (and best) opportunity. The rebound comes directly to him — all he needs to do is open up, and right-foot it home to the near side, which is wide open. What does he do? Squibs it left-footed, which offered the worst possible angle. The deflection of the LAG CB bounces to Robson, who again has the opportunity like Miller to one-time it home. Instead, he tries to draw it onto his left foot, and that gives the Galaxy enough time to close him down, plug the channels, and that’s it. There’s no question in my mind that neither Robson nor Miller, our two highest-paid players, have performed as advertised. Will Martin Rennie have the courage to admit that Miller and Robson have been a very expensive mistake? That’s the 1.8 million-dollar question.

  2. You think Rennies tactics were spot on I’m not sure should never had put in Bonjour a player who hadn’t played in the last 4 games. He had Alain Rochat who has played at centre back in the game and used to the pace of the game. He should have switched Rochat to centre back and never have taken off Matt Watson and Darren Mattocks wouldn’t have changed anyone that wasn’t hurt ie DeMerit. The game was right there for the taking but Rennie was clearly out foxed by Bruce Arena I’ve questioned Rennie use of Subs all season and last night it cost us the game.

    monkers november 2nd

    • Couldn’t agree more with your perspective on Rennie’ sub selection. I’ve been worried as of late that my high opinion of Rennie as a coach, formulated at the start of the season, is proving to be pure fantasy. I wanted him so badly to be this young ambitious coach from Europe that could relate with the players, that could knit a wolf pack out of them, that could get them to bleed for kit and country. But I think I was wrong, I think the organization was wrong. Rennie will be granted one more season out of goodwill, it’s the gentlemanly thing to do. And for all we know the necessary prescribed medicine of separating scouting and coaching may turn things around next year….for the organization, not Rennie. Let me tell you why and I welcome as much feedback on this analysis as possible:

      De Merit is the closest any team in the MLS will get to a perfect captain. The city loved him, ownership loved him and players love him and yet Rennie gave Barry Robson carte blanche to yell, ridicule and demean any player on the pitch that he so chose – on day God damn one. Who the FUCK is Barry Robson, better yet who is Martin Rennie? What kind of a “coach” happily steps aside to let a single player determined the culture of a club?? Unfortunately our TV soccer pundits are half-comatosed eunichs and so no one spoke the obvious even though fans around the entire city were choking on something but they didn’t know what. This poison that is Barry lead the team not to victory but to a demoralized quagmire that resulted in 1 win out of 10. So I ask you, how does one maintain confidence in Rennie, in the face of such grade-school behaviour?

      P.S. Barry is an amazing talent, quite possibly one of the best in the league. But who cares, when say he spits in your wife’s face. Talent is half the battle and this goes for all professions.

    • yes, because having your captain injured, and having the referee being an incompetent fool are clear signs of Bruce Arena’s superiority to Martin Rennie.

    • Rochait has had a long history of under performing at centre back. Martin Bonjour has proved himself more then capable of handling such situations. I don’t think that you can blame Rennie on this one.

  3. Was a clear peno in any country come on the writter of this article, you know nothing about the game. They also missed a clear peno in the first half!!! Typical to blame somebody else, do you think they were good enough to win the game!?

    • What was a clear penalty? if you are referring to the one that actually got called no that was not by any stretch of the imagination a clear penalty. Donovan through himself into Bonjour and then bounced off and somehow ended up with a penalty. even if you missed the fact that Donovan instigated the contact then you have to admit it was shoulder to shoulder which is not a foul. he also blames Robson and Miller for not being able to finish. he did not blame the entire loss on the referee although it did play a big part. yes they were absolutely good enough to win the game. they were out manned and outgunned, and while I disagree with some of the selections (Harvey) under the circumstances this was an excellent showing from our boys. look at how far we have come since last season. this is a team on the rise.

  4. complete idiot to sat thoringtons was a peno, no clue!!! no clue!!!!

    • isn’t the word “penalty” already short enough?

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