Whitecaps playoff chances fizzle with Portland drawOctober 7, 2013 at 10:27 pm | Posted in Whitecaps Season 2013 | 1 Comment
Tags: Camilo Sanvezzo volley, camilo volley, Donovan Ricketts, goal of the year, Kekuta Manneh, MLS playoffs, Portland Timbers, Vancouver Whitecaps
This match, a thrilling 2-2 draw with the Portland Timbers, was a microcosm of the Vancouver Whitecaps’ season. The Whitecaps were both brilliant and incompetent in the same game. For part of the game they looked defeated and resigned to losing, and yet for 25-30 minutes they played like tigers who desperately wanted to win. The match just served to demonstrate that a successful team must play to win for 90 minutes. Poor play for 45 minutes of the game just does not cut it.
Whitecaps coach Martin Rennie started Mattocks and Camilo up front. Davidson, Reo-Coker, Kobayashi and Watson started in the middle, and Harvey, DeMerit, Mitchell and Lee on the defensive line. David Ousted started in goal.
The Whitecaps started out very positively indeed with striker Darren Mattocks taking the lead in effort, tracking back and throwing in the tackles like never before; he created a few chances as well. It was his best match for the Whitecaps this season. Kobayashi looked bright and creative. The Whitecaps were creating chances and looking positive.
The Whitecaps bubble burst five minutes from half time, however, as Whitecaps keeper Ousted was caught back-peddling on a weak back pass. He hit a poor clearance under pressure straight to a Portland midfielder Wil Johnson well inside the Whitecaps half. Johnson found Darlington Nagbe with his back to goal about 28 yards out. Nagbe turned and found himself unchallenged as both Lee and DeMerit made late efforts to close him down. Nagbe fired a shot across the goal to the inside of the far post, beating Ousted into the top corner. Ousted, not for the first time this season, looked unsure with his footwork and positioning, letting the ball get past him. For some reason Ousted was back-peddling into his goal when Nagbe shot; he should have challenged the shooter more. It was a terrific shot by Nagbe, but stoppable nonetheless.
One thing is for sure: we were well beaten in the goalkeeping department in this match. Portland got superb goalkeeping from Donovan Ricketts, who made the necessary big saves where Ousted didn’t.
What was shocking about the Whitecaps is how Portland’s first goal put the whole team into a funk to the point where they looked defeated. For the rest of the first half the Whitecaps looked like they were ready to throw in the towel. The frustration could be easily read in their body language.
The Whitecaps looked a bit brighter in the second half, and Rennie threw caution to the wind, bringing the young guns in half way through the second half. Matt Watson, who put in a great shift for the team, gave way to Russell Teibert in the 64th minute, and Kobayashi gave way to Kekuta Mennah in the 71st. With this change the Whitecaps started putting some major pressure on the Portland Timbers. Just before Teibert came on the Whitecaps nearly scored in what looked like a hockey scramble in front of Portland’s goal.
The Whitecaps should have scored again as Manneh got off a quick point blank shot from 12 yards out; Camilo swooped in for the rebound but was under heavy pressure and could only ding the ball off of Ricketts again from close range. With these two extraordinary saves Ricketts was just getting warmed up.
This missed chance set the stage for an extraordinary couple of minutes. Camilo lined up a free kick straight in front of goal from 30 yards, and the anticipation in the crowd was palpable; we know he is capable of scoring from there! Camilo hit a dipping shot which dipped even more viciously to the left when it was deflected by a Portland defenders’ head. The ball found its way into the corner of the net with Ricketts looking clumsy for the first time in the match.
Unfortunately the Whitecaps were so delirious from scoring a goal they lost their concentration on the kick-off. Nagbe got the ball on the right side of the pitch and charged towards Harvey and DeMerit. With one switchback move both DeMerit and Harvey went down to the ground and simultaneously took themselves out of the play. Nagbe was unopposed and cooly passed the ball back to an unmarked Wil Johnson at the top of the box who slotted the ball to the right of Ousted. Ousted looked like he would have saved it but Mitchell, in trying to stop the shot, deflected the ball over the keeper’s outstretched arm. Only 30 seconds after the Whitecaps had scored and Portland was back in the lead. It was amateur hour again for the Whitecaps, and our playoff chances were made virtually impossible by two goals that kids teams would be embarrassed to concede.
Incredibly, one minute later, the Whitecaps were back even again after one of the greatest strikes in Whitecaps history by our most talented player, Camilo. Mattocks got the ball on the left flank and put some impressive moves on Portland’s fullback to cross the ball. He struck the ball too hard and Lee caught up with it on the right border of the box, launching the ball back into the box on his first touch with a high looping cross. Camilo retreated from the middle of the penalty box back to the top of the box, launched himself in the air and hit a stunning bicycle kick low to the left of Richetts into the bottom corner of the net. It was an astonishing goal, which delighted the crowd, which knew it had witnessed something very special. The stage was set for a come from behind victory.
Sadly, there was no victory as Portland’s keeper Rickets stopped everything the Whitecaps could throw at him. It was desperation time and DeMerit stopped Portland’s counter attacks with a series of fantastic diving tackles. YP Lee had a chance, and in injury time, Manneh forced a miracle save from Ricketts with a full volley from the top of the box.
Manneh charged into the box with the ball soon afterwards and was pushed off balance by Portland’s defender Danso, but sold the penalty too much. He still had the chance to continue with the ball but he went for the penalty instead by going to ground. With that play the match was over and our playoff chances are now more fantasy than reality.
With this match being given away by two amateurish defending mistakes it reminded me of that team we had at the beginning of the 2012 season that defended so well. That team was mistakenly dismantled by the Whitecaps management, and we are still trying to recover from it.