Whitecaps drop points against a weakened RSLApril 14, 2013 at 10:09 pm | Posted in Vancouver Whitecaps, Whitecaps Season 2013 | 4 Comments
I had to reintroduce myself to the people sitting around me at BC Place yesterday because it has been so long since the last home game that I forgot who they were. It has been five weeks since we last saw the ‘Caps at home, and five weeks since we last saw a win.
The Vancouver Whitecaps got lucky yesterday as they tied a depleted Real Salt Lake 1-1 at BC Place stadium. With Javier Morales playing hobbled with a hamstring injury and Kyle Beckerman leaving the pitch injured very early on, RSL were ripe for the picking. The Whitecaps failed to take advantage. Six games into the season and Whitecaps coach Martin Rennie is still fiddling about with the line up. The absence of Kenny Miller due to a hamstring injury required some change, but the changes the Whitecaps made were not to good effect.
Martin Rennie continued to perplex with his bizarre starting line up. I always thought the best strategy for a football manager was to get your best available 11 men on the pitch. We are now six games into the MLS season and it is apparent that Rennie is still confused about who the best eleven are. Rennie left Koffie and Mattocks on the bench, and threw Russell Teibert and Corey Herzog, two inferior players, on the pitch instead. While I can understand rewarding Herzog for scoring a goal in the last game, the way to reward him was to bring him on as a sub on 60 minutes for Mattocks, the clearly superior player, if Mattocks had not yet scored. While Russell Teibert’s play was competent, he had nowhere near the impact on the game that Koffie does when he plays. Koffie runs more, gets more of the ball, tackles better, and can beat a man with the ball.
While Koffie and Mattocks have not played blindingly well recently, they have been good enough to leave on the pitch. We know Mattocks can score goals; it is just a matter of getting him through a rough patch. If he gets the minutes, he will score. Koffie was not at fault for the losses on the road either. The result was two points dropped at home.
One decision Rennie got right was to start Camilo. Camilo was a one man offence machine. The wee Brazilian was getting chances from long and short distance, coming close to scoring no less than five times in the first half alone. Only an in-form Nick Rimando (perhaps the most unique and entertaining keeper to watch in the MLS) stopped the Whitecaps from scoring.
In the first half RSL were just weathering the storm, and looked like a shadow of the talented football club they have been for the last five years or so. With key man Beckerman out, it looked like RSL would be happy to defend their way to a 0-0 draw. They were half way there by half time.
As it turned out the first bit of football magic in the game came from RSL two-thirds of the way through the game as Olmes Garcia scored with a fantastic curling effort from the left hand side of the box. While some thought Andy O’Brien could have defended better, he was caught marking two men, giving Garcia the room for his beautiful and unstoppable strike. As so often happens in football the team that withstood heavy pressure came back and scored against the run of play. RSL’s goal came in the wake of another outstanding Nick Rimando save off of Nigel Reo-Coker. Reo-Coker was the Whitecaps best player yet again. He is a pleasure to watch.
Mattocks came in for Herzog and Manneh came in for Kobayashi (who was a bit quiet during this match); it was Manneh who really shined, going for a number of lightening quick runs down the left side. While he did not create any goals, he showed us more than he has in his previous appearances. It was actually a poorly hit cross by Manneh which resulted in the penalty which allowed the Whitecaps back into the game with a chance to win it. Manneh’s scuffed cross was intercepted by RSL defenders, one of whom (Borchers) slipped on the slick BC Place turf and handled the ball twice in the process. It was a soft penalty, but it came on 84 minutes, just as a feeling of desperation was creeping into the Whitecaps play. The previously snake-bitten Camilo stepped up and knocked the penalty to Rimando’s left off of the post into the back of the net. What a relief!
While Rimando had more saves and was the star on the day, Joe Cannon saved the match in injury time with a superb tip over the bar from a close range header off of a corner kick. He then caught a cross off of the next corner to steer the Whitecaps home for a point. How great it is to have Joe back playing well. Both sides rode their luck on this day and a draw was what each side deserved.
It was, at the end of the game, two points lost at home to a key Western Conference rival. While it is clear that Martin Rennie is still popular amongst the fans, I am getting tired of his inability to put our best team on the pitch. With a weakened RSL and a boisterous home crowd, this should have been a three point game for the Whitecaps. After a strong start the Whitecaps are slipping into mediocrity with a the stern challenge of back-to- back games against the cream of the league, Dallas FC, awaiting them.