Whitecaps win free-for-all over New EnglandJune 16, 2013 at 10:56 pm | Posted in Whitecaps Season 2013 | 2 Comments
The mid-table clash between the Vancouver Whitecaps and the New England Revolution promised to be a high scoring match and it turned out to be. New England have shown they can score goals, having scored five against the LA Galaxy and four against the New York Red Bulls recently. The Whitecaps started two young and inexperienced centre backs in Johnny Leveron and Carlyle Mitchell. It was known that mitchell is still recovering from a bad ankle injury, and his fitness was reported to be 80-90 per cent.
Neither Leveron nor Mitchell looked confident from the start, and Leveron was soon exposed by a long low ball which flew over his head straight to the Revolution’s Agudelo who finished easily on ten minutes as Jordan Harvey and Carlyle Mitchell looked on.
Ten minutes later Leveron committed another error, heading away a ball his keeper Brad Knighton had called for. Jordan Harvey tried to clear the ball under pressure but put it straight at the feet of a New England player. A few passes later and the ball was in the Whitecaps net, with Leveron and Mitchell standing about looking like practice pylons. It looked like it was going to be a long night; the Whitecaps were pitifully poor in the first twenty minutes, looking completely incompetent at the back. At the kickoff after New England’s second goal, the Whitecaps all stood around looking like zombies with only twenty minutes gone.The defensive frailties were not limited to the Whitecaps, fortunately. Russell Teibert played a long ball over the top of New England’s defence which Kenny Miller latched on to only to be fouled by Farrell on the penalty spot as he drew his leg back to shoot. Farrell was red carded, and Camilo, the Whitecaps official penalty taker, shot the ball low to the keeper’s right into the back of the net on twenty-five minutes. After looking down and out, suddenly the Whitecaps were back in it with the huge advantage of having an extra man for the next seventy minutes.
Carlyle Mitchell redeemed himself for his questionable early play when he cleared a high ball with a header that went straight to Kenny Miller, who neatly flicked the ball over his mark and ran on to finish with a perfect cross shot with his left foot on 39 minutes. Miller’s alertness and tenacity were what lifted the Whitecaps on this night. He scored two and created a third in what was his best match yet for the Vancouver Whitecaps. Our veterans, Nigel Reo-Coker, YP Lee and Miller are being exemplary professionals of late, showing the youthful Whitecaps what it takes to win games.
Jordan Harvey redeemed himself for his earlier gaffe when he put the Whitecaps up 3-2 on 43 minutes. Teibert spotted Harvey making a run unnoticed on the outside of New England’s right flank. Teibert delivered a perfect ball for Harvey to finish with his left foot first time from close range. In an astonishing turn around, it was 3-2 at the half.
It was fun to watch, but the level of football was very naive and even poor, with both teams making fundamental mistakes in the first half that professional players should not be making. I said to my friends that it was one of the best halves of amateur soccer I had ever seen.
In the second half Kenny Miller continued where he had left off, darting about with tremendous quickness and energy. Camilo found him with yet another long ball over the middle, (neither team’s defence was able to cope with this simplest of plays on the night), which Miller let bounce once, took one touch and then lashed a technically perfect full volley over the Revolution’s keeper Shuttleworth. It was the hi-light goal of the night, and put the Whitecaps up 4-2 with twenty or so minutes to go.
The Whitecaps defensive weakness was again laid bare as Mitchell, who had suffered hamstring twinge earlier on, got caught out of position. A through ball straight down the middle found Revs striker Imbongo, who found himself able to convert with little opposition to make it 4-3. It was white knuckle time when Whitecaps old boy Nguyen hit a late, late free kick which was headed for the top corner of the net but for Knighton’s intervention, tipping the shot over the bar.
The Whitecaps barely escaped a match which should have been a comfortable win. While it was entertaining to see seven goals scored, what was shocking about the match was the inability of both teams to defend the easiest of plays. Of seven goals, five came from long balls down the middle that defenders failed to clear. This match was a very poor advert for the quality of play in the MLS.
The Whitecaps were technically very poor during this game, unable to hold the ball in midfield, probably because of the fact that Gershon Koffie was still injured. Kobayashi seemed to drift in and out of the game, and seemed allergic to putting in any real effort. If not for our veterans Miller, Reo-Coker and Lee, this team would be completely lost. Of the rest of the squad, only Teibert is playing well.
In this match Kenny Miller played as he should: he was the leader out there on the pitch, and both of his goals demonstrated high quality. Had Miller not forced the issue, the Whitecaps could have been beaten by a hatfull. As a friend of mine said, this is “Kenny Miller 2.0” a much improved version of the first one. If Miller, Lee, and Reo-Coker can stay fit, and if O’Brien’s injury isn’t too bad we have a chance of making the playoffs. If one or two of these goes down with a bad injury, we don’t stand a chance.