The ghost of Alain Rochat haunts Vancouver Whitecaps in SeattleJune 9, 2013 at 10:18 pm | Posted in Whitecaps Season 2013 | 14 Comments
It took only two days for the Whitecaps to experience seller’s remorse with respect to trading away Alain Rochat. The Whitecaps have been touting the move of Rochat as a way to get salary cap room and as a way to improve the future of the club through future draft picks. The only problem with salary cap room and future draft picks is that neither can kick a football.
In Seattle last night the rookie errors were not confined to the pitch; the Whitecaps front office and Coach Martin Rennie embarrassed the club with the Rochat move. When centre back Andy O’Brien came off injured, the look of shock on Martin Rennie’s face said it all… There was really no one to replace him.
If you are up 2-1 over a Cascadia rival away from home and need to replace your starting centre back, a serious quality footballer had better be available to take his place. When I saw that Whitecaps coach Martin Rennie had tapped Greg Klazura on the shoulder to replace the ham-strung Andy O’Brien two thirds the way through the match, it was clear to me the match would be lost. Klazura simply did not have the experience and quality to play in last night’s game. We replaced a seasoned veteran who has played in international matches for Ireland and has many appearances in the English Premier League with a guy who has only played college soccer and one MLS match (in which he scored on our net). It was a substitution which was doomed from the start.
It had all looked so promising. In spite of giving up an early goal in the ninth minute, the Whitecaps soon responded through Camilo the very next minute. Camilo is a little miracle: despite his diminutive size he is able to score numerous goals with his head. Both goals were provided by Russell Teibert, who is truly flourishing in his right-sided role. The Whitecaps were up 2-1 over a depleted Seattle side which was missing five or six of their starters.
Leveron and Davidson were at fault on the opening goal. Leveron defended too high, and Davidson dropped behind him to cover. Both failed to notice Rose making a lateral run across the line; Rose received a pass and easily slotted past Keeper Brad Knighton for a 1-0 lead to Seattle.
YP Lee and Teibert combined brilliantly on the left to create the equalizer. Teibert stabbed a cross over the entire Seattle defence to a waiting Camilo whose cross header cleanly beat Gspurning, who could only watch it go past him into the net. Teibert created the Whitecaps second goal by finding Camilo off of a beautiful free kick for a diving header deep in Seattle’s box. The two shortest guys on the pitch were having a field day! Who would say football is a tall man’s game? It was 2-1 Whitecaps at the half.
The Whitecaps were looking solid to win the match when Andy O’Brien went down with a hamstring injury two-thirds the way through. With the Whitecaps up 2-1 under pressure with half an hour to go, it took only five minutes for O’Brien’s substitute Klazura to be exposed when he got on the wrong side of his mark in the box and then blatantly hacked him down for a penalty kick. It was then 2-2 with twenty minutes to go.
Ten minutes later both Klazura and Honduran centre back Johnny Leveron were exposed when a charging (and aging) Obafemi Martins was able to out-sprint and split the two to cross a low ball in front of goal which was finished by Seattle striker Lamar Neagle. The play made Leveron look slow and out of shape. Some close up shots of Leveron had him carrying a spare tire around his middle that needs to be got rid of. If he loses ten pounds he might be bit quicker. How an old player in his mid thirties is able to out-sprint a guy in his early twenties is beyond me, especially when Leveron had a head start!
The Whitecaps were lucky not to concede another penalty early in the second half when Jun-Marques Davidson hacked Martins down inside the box, but the referee and the linesman, amazingly, put the ball outside of the box for a free kick.
Nigel Reo-Coker’s one flaw was laid bare: this guy is not going to score a lot of goals. After a brilliant free kick by Camilo was spilled by Seattle keeper Gspurning, RC had the whole net gaping in front of him and could only kick the ball at the keeper. Had he finished that one, it was 3-1 for the Whitecaps. Kenny Miller also managed to wriggle free on the right side of goal late in the match only to put his cross too far in front of Camilo, who had the whole net open to him.
We were beaten by a team which had only half of its regular starters on the pitch. Like the match against the Montreal Impact, this one should send a message to our owners and to our coaching staff: our squad is weak and shallow. It has been made more weak and shallow by the trading of Alain Rochat. While Rochat did suffer a dip in form this year, he is still twice the player that Greg Klazura is.
The timing of the Rochat trade could not be worse and again showed a level of naiveté, (or dare I say, incompetence), in the Whitecaps staff who are making footballing decisions.
Our squad is generally of poorer quality than other MLS teams whose owners seem to be taking the game a lot more seriously than our own owners. Critical errors are being made by those making footballing decisions.
There is a wonderful Canadian coach called Frank Yallop who recently became available. If the owners are smart, the time is now to find a place on the Whitecaps for Yallop, who has plenty of MLS experience and has won two MLS titles.
It is time for the owners to wake up and provide change for a team that needs it.