Knighton saves Whitecaps with his face

April 25, 2013 at 8:10 am | Posted in Whitecaps Season 2013 | Leave a comment

While there may be reason to complain about some aspects of the Vancouver Whitecaps (particularly the coaching), one aspect of their game cannot be criticized: the goalkeeping has been excellent. Both Joe Cannon and Brad Knighton have been greatthis season.

Later on in an abysmal first half when the Whitecaps were down 2-1, Brad Knighton made a key save from a point blank shot. He used perfect technique, sacrificing his whole body to stop the shot. It hit him straight in the face. Had that ball gone in the net, the Whitecaps, who were already being embarrassed by Edmonton FC, (a lower league team which plays in the second division NASL), would have been in big trouble. Had that ball gone in it would have been a disaster for the club’s efforts in the Canadian Championship. As it turned out, Knighton’s save turned the match for the Whitecaps and allowed the Whitecaps to comebackand win the match.

In the first half of this first leg of the Canadian Championship semi-final, the Whitecaps were very poor indeed, being outplayed and out-coached by Whitecaps old boy Colin Miller’s Edmonton squad. An early free kick goal (which looked suspiciously offside) by Camilo had the Whitecaps up 1-0 early. Edmonton defended and counter attacked well, however; they took advantage of two clear defending errors to put the Whitecaps on the ropes. Andy O’Brien made a rare error on a header back to Knighton which was intercepted by Edmonton striker Cox,who finished well. Soon afterwards Darren Mattocks fell asleep on a corner kick and did not mark a man at the near post, who headed in to make it 2-1 Edmonton.

In the first half the Whitecaps looked to be playing a 4-1-5 formation as Nigel Reo-Coker played midfield all by himself, while Edmonton defended very deeply. The Whitecaps passing was very poor and their runs ill timed and predictable to Edmonton’s canny and numerous defenders.

Luckily, the second half was a different story and the Whitecaps managed to turn the tables after what must have been a stern talking to by Coach Rennie. The Whitecaps grew in confidence as the second half progressed, and a cross from Nigel Reo Coker in the last ten minutes of the match resulted in a scramble which Tom Heinemann scooped in from close range. It was nice to see the big man score, and it is clear he is very keen indeed to succeed in a Whitecaps uniform.

Heroics of Knighton aside, it was Nigel Reo Coker and Camilo who were the best men on the pitch. Camilo scored two, and drove very dangerous crosses in on a number of occasions. Camilo drew lost of fouls to get free kicks for the Whitecaps,(and a penalty, which he converted).

Johnny Leveron made his first start for the first team, but had very little to do. It has to be said that he does not have much of a presence on the back line and the Whitecaps looked very thin at the back on a number of occasions. A better team would have taken advantage of the situation. Neither of the goals were Leveron’s fault however, and he does look very skillful on the ball.

On the whole it was a poor performance by the Whitecaps. Our team should be taking a team like Edmonton to school, but in the first half it was the other way around. The Whitecaps looked like chickens with their heads cut off in the first half. There was no shape to their game. Until they turned it around, the team looked demoralized and defeated. It was Nigel Reo-Coker and Camilo who lifted the team back up. Surely Camilo should be starting MLS games. If Rennie cannot see this by now, surely there is no hope for him.

It was an important win for the team and for Martin Rennie after five games on the trot without a win.

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