Rookie errors cost Whitecaps against ColoradoOctober 20, 2013 at 9:23 pm | Posted in Vancouver Whitecaps, Whitecaps Season 2013 | 7 Comments
Tags: Colorado Rapids, David Ousted, major league soccer, Martin Rennie, MLS playoffs, Vancouver Whtiecaps
Yesterday’s 3-2 loss to the Colorado Rapids proved what I think we all were thinking: this year’s version of the Vancouver Whitecaps was just not good enough to make the playoffs. While the Whitecaps scored enough to win the match, two defensive clangers killed their chance of winning it.
A half empty stadium greeted the teams in Colorado. It was a sobering reminder that for more than a few Major League Soccer franchises the buzz is just not there as it is up here in the Pacific Northwest. Whitecaps coach Martin Rennie stuck with the line-up which crushed the Seattle Sounders 4-1 in Seattle ten days earlier: Ousted in goal; Harvey, DeMerit, Mitchell and YP Lee on the back line; Watson, Reo-Coker, Kobayashi and Jun Marques Davidson in Midfield; and Manneh and Camilo up front.
The defensive pairing of DeMerit and Mitchell looked strong early, but the team as a whole had a hard time holding on to the ball all match. Colorado enjoyed the lion’s share of the ball and it was against the run of play when Kobayashi found Manneh 25 yards out in a gap between Colorado’s midfield and defense. Manneh used the room well, turning and hitting a beautiful dipping shot over the keeper and into the top corner. His finish would have looked at home in the English Premier League. It really was fantastic, and the Whitecaps were in a superb position to take the match under control after 32 minutes.
Ten minutes later the Whitecaps rookies were exposed when a free kick was called for Colorado about 40 yards out from Ousted’s goal. The ball was struck and landed in the six yard box after Mitchell held back a Colorado striker with his arm; the referee blew for a penalty. The fact is it was Ousted’s ball to come and get but, like many times this season, he stood rooted on his goal line. If he had come out and caught or punched that ball Mitchell’s sin would have gone undetected and no penalty would have been called. Ousted needed to come and claim that ball, but he didn’t and the referee awarded a soft penalty against the Whitecaps. The Whitecaps lost a crucial advantage when Torres converted for Colorado. It was 1-1.
Five minutes into the second half the team of Mitchell and Ousted again made mistakes leading to Colorado’s second goal, which came directly from a goal-kick. Mitchell mis-judged the high ball which hit the ground behind him. This caught Lee by surprise and the quick Colorado striker Brown got the better of Lee, not for the first time in the match. Brown still had plenty to do to score, but Ousted came running out of his goal and gave him an easy finish. Brown simply touched the bouncing ball over Ousted into the net. Had Ousted stayed in his goal he would have made it much more difficult for Brown to score. It was another mistake for Ousted and another goal against the Whitecaps, who were now down 2-1.
Five minutes later Matt Watson was put through alone by a fantastic through ball from Kobayashi but, inexplicably, put the ball wide of the goal. Watson ran around the pitch like a spring lamb all game but unfortunately looked like a senior citizen when he got a chance in front of goal. Any player who is getting paid to play the game should be able to put chances like that away.
Rennie started calling on his bench in an attempt to change the match in the Whitecaps favour. Watson came off for Teibert on 60 minutes, and Kobayashi gave way to Mattocks on 66 minutes. Defence gave way to speed. Jordan Harvey began pushing forward and drew a penalty after being put through by a superb feather pass from Camilo. Even though Harvey was through on his own to score, the man who brought him down was not sent off. It was another example of a MLS referee who does not know the rules of the game. Had we been wearing LA Galaxy shirts, I am sure that defender would have been sent off. Camilo equalized with his 19th goal of the season. With 15 minutes to play, the Whitecaps looked as though they just might keep their playoff chances alive.
With the Whitecaps pouring men forward in an attempt to win the game, they were soon exposed on a counter attack. In the 79th minute Colorado made good use of the acres of real estate the Whitecaps gave them to work in. A cross field pass found Torres one-on-one with Harvey; Torres put one fake on Harvey which gave him the room to crack an unstoppable wonder goal from the right side of Ousted’s goal. This time it was Harvey who was all too easily beaten. All was lost: it was 3-2 and the Whitecaps needed two goals in ten minutes to save the season.
Rennie’s desperation was complete when he brought the clearly hobbled Kenny Miller, who could barely run, in for Davidson to try to bring order to the disorganized Whitecaps attack, which looked like a bunch of cats needing to be herded. Colorado brought their whole team behind the ball and formed a big wall across the pitch which the Whitecaps could not breach. In spite of all of the speed they had on the pitch, the Whitecaps were slow and ponderous in their attacking play in the last 15 minutes of the match. Perhaps the high altitude finally got to them.
The final whistle blew and playoff hopes for the Whitecaps were gone. A season which began so brightly and with so much promise fizzled out in disappointment.
This game and this season just proved that soccer is a defensive game. If you fail to be solid in defence, your team will fail. This is what the Whitecaps’s downfall was in this match, and in this season.