Kekuta Manneh saves poor Whitecaps in Chivas matchMarch 16, 2014 at 10:47 pm | Posted in Vancouver Whitecaps, Whitecaps season 2014 | Leave a comment
Tags: Chivas USA, Kekuta Manneh, Vancouver Whitecaps
Dear God what a contrast from last weekend’s romp over the Red Bulls!
The Vancouver Whitecaps came out flat against Chivas USA in Los Angeles today. The Whitecaps starting eleven, which looked even more powerful than last week’s starting line up due to the insertion of Pedro Morales for the injured Russell Teibert, dragged its backside lazily through this match.
Was it the heat? Was it the fact the Whitecaps squad has forgotten what it is like to play on real grass? I suspect it was a bit of both as they struggled through a match that was theirs for the taking. Players from both teams were slipping and sliding all over the surface.
Chivas midfielder Pelletieri was sent off for putting his studs through Morales’ left shin after only 12 minutes, but it was the Goats who went ahead just before half time. An off-song Nigel Reo-Coker inexplicably passed the ball directly to the deadly Mauro Rosales who found Erick Torres with the ball. Torres took a touch to position himself for the shot and slipped as he hit the ball, which was set to go well wide but for the intervention of Jay DeMerit’s right buttock, which guided the ball expertly past a bewildered David Ousted in goal. A comedy of errors? As Pee Wee Herman once said, “Sorry I forgot to laugh.”
The Whitecaps went into the dressing room at half time with virtually nothing working on the pitch. The players all had stunned looks on their faces which said “…but I thought we were so good…” It was the same look we had on our faces watching the match on television.
Coach Carl Robinson did not look well pleased either. Pedro Morales and Sebastian Fernandez, who were so dynamic and creative against the Red Bulls one week earlier, were either anonymous or pedestrian, having had the creativity sucked out of them by some mysterious vampiric force.
The second half was much the same as the Whitecaps failed to put any real pressure on Chivas in spite of having more men on the pitch. What is more embarrassing was that Chivas out-shot the Whitecaps by a significant margin, and won 6 corners while the Whitecaps failed to win one corner all game. Were it not for a timely save in the 50th minute by Ousted off of Barerra who was put through alone by Torres, the Whitecaps would have been down 2-0.
Fortunately one fellow was in the mood to play in a Whitecaps uniform: Kekuta Manneh. Manneh was substituted for an ailing Reo-Coker after 60 minutes; he immediately began putting pressure on Chivas with dynamic runs on the left side of the pitch.
Mattocks was put through alone by a deft ball down the middle from Morales in the 65th minute, but hit his shot so lightly it was easily cleared before it could make it to the goal. Mattocks was working hard all match and eventually pressurized the ball causing Chivas to cough it up. He streaked down the left side of the penalty area and pulled the ball back around the top of the box for Manneh who strode up to the ball unopposed and stroked it past Dan Kennedy into the Goat’s net. On 80 minutes it was 1-1, and an embarrassing match was made somewhat less embarrassing.
Manneh had the chance to win it late on with another breakthrough, but chose to pass the ball to Eric Hurtado in stead of shooting; Hurtado could not get to the ball. Hurtado, whose hair made him look like a lost circus clown, came on as a sub for a frustrated Fernandez in the 75th minute. He proved once again that he does not know how to play the game. Hurtado’s inability to do anything but run forward in a straight line quickly was astonishing, and he was clearly the worst player on the pitch. He had the opportunity to put Miller through on his own on the right side but inexplicably put the ball right to a Chivas defender instead. Like the rest of us, Miller was left exasperated by the poor quality of the pass; a professional footballer should have easily completed that pass.
If Hurtado was disappointing, Christian Dean was a revelation. Dean came on in the 75th minute for Andy O’Brien, who had taken a knock to his thigh. Dean, who is a very impressive and intimidating physical specimen, put in a dominant performance. He won every header asked of him, and played the ball intelligently with his feet as well. I think Andy O’Brien had better start fearing for his spot because Dean is the real thing. Robinson seems to like him at left back, so Harvey may have to start looking over his shoulder as well.
The final whistle brought an end to a match that was hard work to watch. I have to admit I even nodded off briefly during the first half, but my excuse is that this match was more of a lullaby than a rock and roll anthem.
Now the Whitecaps have a long flight across the continent to New England, where they will be more used to the playing surface, (they play on horrible Fieldturf just like us in New England), in temperatures which will be much cooler.
Lets pray the Whitecaps get back to their earlier form.