Whitecaps fail to compete in Salt Lake CityMay 5, 2013 at 10:20 pm | Posted in Whitecaps Season 2013 | 4 Comments
After two wins in the Canadian Championship and a stirring draw against Dallas FC last weekend, I had hoped the Whitecaps had turned a corner in the 2013 season. Sadly, in a 2-0 loss to Real Salt Lake on the road last night, normal service was resumed: the Whitecaps were again very poor.
Cannon was in goal, with the back line including Leveron who replaced an injured Rusin. In Midfield Davidson gave way to Russel Teibert.
Cory Herzog got the call up front, replacing the sputtering Darren Mattocks. Herzog was rewarded for his mid-week wonder strike against Edmonton. He failed to enhance his status against RSL, despite getting through for one chance in the second half. HIs failure to get on the end of some great crosses from Nigel Reo-Coker was telling, and was typical of the Whitecap’s performance last night. Most of the squad simply failed to show up and compete on the night.
The Whitecaps did not win a ball in the RSL penalty area all night, and were miserable in competition generally.
Though much of the service was not as good as it could be, the Whitecaps failed time and time a gain to get on the end of passes and crosses. It was an exercise in frustration watching that match.
The look on Nigel Reo-Coker’s face early in the match said it all. He had just put in what was one of five fantastic crosses in to the box, and Herzog failed to get anywhere near the ball. How many times did we also see crosses and passes which did not get anywhere near a Whitecaps jersey? The quality of play was very poor indeed.
In spite of what was a good performance by Reo-Coker, it was a poor free kick from him just after half time which led to RSL’s first goal in the second half. His free kick was too heavily weighted, and went into touch behind RSL’s goal. RSL’s keeper Nick Rimando, who is excellent with his feet, quickly got another ball and played a superb goal kick to little Joao Plata, who took two touches to cross the ball to Gil, who finished with a clinical header off the post. Four touches was all it took to kill the Whitecaps. For the Whitecaps, it was typical of their poor quality over the whole night. Frankly, it was a sad sack team that gave up that goal.
The Whitecaps threw men forward to find an equalizer but watching the match it was hard to believe they would ever get near to scoring a goal. On only one occasion did the Whitecaps get through for a chance when Reo-Coker’s pass found Herzog, but the striker did not get a good shot off from close range. It was the only time that Nick Rimando was forced to make a difficult save all match.
RSL’s second goal in the 71st minute had a feeling of inevitability to it. It was scored by Javier Morales, that fine Argentinian midfielder who is the kind of player our squad lacks. He can pass, shoot, and cross the ball with accuracy, things most of our squad were simply unable to do during this match.
What was sad about the match was how little RSL had to do to beat the Whitecaps. RSL’s keeper and back line had no problem dealing with the Whitecaps attack, looking like they hardly broke a sweat.
It was another nail in the coffin for me for Martin Rennie as coach. The Whitecaps have not won an MLS match since March 9. Since then it has been four losses and three ties. Rennie has had some bad luck with injuries to key players no doubt, but his overall record with the club, especially since mid season last year, remains very poor. There seems to be no strategy to the way the Whitecaps are playing. With a few notable exceptions, they look like a bunch of players who don’t quite know what to do. The players are demoralised because of the lack of forward direction of the club. That is a coaching issue.
The loss of the competitiveness of Jay DeMerit and Kenny Miller has torn a lot of heart out of the team. Nigel RC and YP Lee are doing their best to lift the team, but the team is not responding. One bright spot was the play of Johnny Leveron, whose touch and passing ability was impressive and a cut above the rest.
The Whitecaps need to shake the team up somehow. They are headed into a difficult time over the next three weeks with two games per week starting next weekend. This includes two games in the Canadian Championship against a hot Montreal team which are bound to take their toll on the squad with the long trips involved.
The Whitecaps need to find a better coach or make a dramatic signing in order to shock the team back to life. Unless something is done and soon, the 2013 season is going into the tank and we can expect to finish the season at the bottom of the Western Conference.