Goats chew up WhitecapsMarch 31, 2013 at 8:26 pm | Posted in Vancouver Whitecaps, Whitecaps Season 2013 | 1 Comment
The Vancouver Whitecaps lost their second game in a row on this three-game road trip. After two bright and energetic home matches that showed a lot of promise, we have now seen two road losses on the trot. The Whitecaps have shown some worrying defensive frailties, indicating the loss of Jay DeMerit is going to hurt us even more than we had thought.
Chivas, (“aka the Goats”), was one of the worst teams in MLS last season. Playing under the nattily attired coach “El Chelis” this year, Chivas played a solid match for the win and served notice they are a serious team for the 2013 season. This in spite of the fact the home crowd was so small it looked like only the relatives of the Goats had shown up to watch. El Chelis had his team drilled to slow the Whitecaps down by fouling them heavily in midfield, and by parking the entire team in front of their goal on defence. The Goats played like they were playing on the road, and the Whitecaps attacked like they were at home, winning corner kicks and having plenty of scoring opportunities.
It has to be said that bad luck played a major part in the Whitecaps downfall, as an unlucky bounce off of Jun Marques Davidson from a cross found its way past a wrong footed Joe Cannon into the net after only 13 minutes. While Cannon and Davidson gave each other disapproving looks, the fact is it was neither player’s fault, just a very unlucky bounce. It just showed what can come from a hard low cross into the box.
I got my wish when I saw the starting 11: Camilo was starting. Unfortunately the little Brazilian was mostly anonymous for his 60 minutes, taking only one shot on goal of note. It is hard to diagnose the problem. The highest scorer of the Whitecaps MLS era is simply not working under Martin Rennie. Whether Rennie is not using him correctly, or whether the Brazilian is unhappy here is not clear. What is clear is that a very good footballer is going to waste, and the writing seems to be on the wall for Camilo’s time here in Vancouver. Given Mattocks is struggling to finish chances, I would love to see Camilo start up front to see if his footballing skills can create goals for himself and others, but I doubt Rennie will do this.
The Whitecaps found themselves 0-2 down early in the second half when a disorganized Whitecaps defence left the right side of the pitch undefended, allowing an unmarked Eric Avila to volley the ball home. Brad Rusin lost his man in the centre of the pitch and Rochat moved to the centre of the pitch to help out. In doing so Rochat lost track of Avila surging forward on the blind side. By the time Rochat became aware it was too late and Avila smashed a perfect cross home to Cannon’s right.
The loss of Jay DeMerit is starting to cost the Whitecaps, and now I appreciate how much DeMerit’s ability to lead and organize our defence is missing. Brad Rusin is proving one thing for certain: how good Martin Bonjour was. Rusin has a tendency to lose his man, and this is the second week in a row he has looked completely at sea when the Whitecaps gave up a goal. Johnny Leveron is not fit enough to start yet, so it looks like there is no relief in sight.
For the first time this season, after Chivas scored their second goal, the Whitecaps looked like a thoroughly defeated team. Martin Rennie injected some enthusiasm into a sluggish side on 60 minutes when he removed Koffie and Camilo for Hurtado and Miller. The two combined for a goal within minutes of coming on, bringing new life to a team that was dying a horrible death on the pitch. Miller’s play and attitude demonstrated he is the team’s natural captain. He immediately injected urgency into the Whitecaps play. We have paid a heavy price over the last two matches by losing Kenny Miller to Scotland’s now futile World Cup campaign, which sits at two points from six matches.
Prior to Miller’s arrival, the team seemed strangely detached and unfocussed, and the lack of concentration and preparedness was clear from the chances squandered by Mattocks, Kobayashi, and Manneh. The truth is the Whitecaps had many chances to win this match but could not put the ball in the net. A late cross in the box close to 90 minutes still had Darren Mattocks fighting for the ball alone with 5 Chivas players, an astonishing fact when we were one goal down.
When Miller is not on the pitch there seems to be a leadership gap on the team, in spite of what was a fighting match from Nigel Reo-Coker. Davidson, Koffie, and Rusin need to step up and show some leadership; the three seemed to be passengers on the night. There was a lack of fight in the squad. I feel we still lack a number 10 in the midfield, someone who can defend and attack, driving the team through the match. Kobayashi is good at passing, but does not drive the team with his play. Too many of the Whitecaps players seemed uninvolved, unfocussed and mute.
El Chelis had his team playing like a team both in defence and attack, and had a clear match plan. It has to be said that we were out coached for the second straight game, leaving me to wonder, as I often do, what might have happened had the team shown more patience with Teitur Thordarson in the 2011 season.