Missed chances, poor refereeing sink Whitecaps against Colorado

April 6, 2014 at 8:51 pm | Posted in Vancouver Whitecaps, Whitecaps season 2014 | 6 Comments

It was one of those games.  The Vancouver Whitecaps met their match against a solid Colorado Rapids team that put up the best fight of the three teams who have come to BC Place this season.  It was all going so well until a fellow wearing a yellow shirt who does not know anything about the game turned the game and handed the match to Colorado.

An innocent man was executed

An innocent man was executed

 The Whitecaps started the same line-up as last match against Houston: Ousted in goal, Harvey, O’Brien, DeMerit and Beitashour at the back, Laba, Koffie, Teibert, and Morales in midfield and Miller and Mattocks up front.  The concussed Nigel Reo-Coker’s was nowhere to be seen. I placed my bet before the match that Darren Mattocks would score a goal.

Colorado presented as the typical MLS squad full of muscle-bound players who all looked six foot three and 215 pounds; this was a team that could play, however.  The Rapids showed they weren’t going to sit back and give the Whitecaps the ball from the start, as they dominated early possession with some crisp passing, most of it at the back and in midfield. Deshorn Brown looked fast, strong and dangerous up front for the Rapids.  The Whitecaps started the match flat, and Colorado looked distinctly the better team.  

Darren Mattocks looked doomed to continue his bad luck in front of goal in the first half.  He was put clear through by Morales but could not beat the charging Rapids’ goalkeeper Irwin when the two met one-on-one.  Mattocks finished a rebound off of a shot by Morales a bit later, but the goal was called back for offside.  Mattocks kept looking to the heavens to ask what he had to do to score (as did the rest of us!).

The first half finished 0-0 and it looked like a match that would be too close to call, probably to be decided by a single goal.

Mattocks finally scored...

Mattocks finally scored…

The Whitecaps came out in the second half looking brighter and more ambitious in the second half.  Morales had a crack at goal from 25 yards out which Irwin had to beat away.   Coach Robinson signalled his intent to win the match by substituting the defensive skills of Koffie for the footballing flash of the Uruguayan Fernandez after 57 minutes.  It was all looking good as captain Jay DeMerit and Andy O’Brien dominantly soaked up all of the pressure the Rapids could muster.  The game was turning in the Whitecaps favour.

The more offensive approach paid off when some wonderful head tennis between Fernandez, Mattocks and Miller led to Miller putting a ball through for the speedy Mattocks to run on to in the 67th minute. Mattocks beat his man easily in the sprint, and shot the ball over the approaching Irwin, who got a touch, but not enough to stop the ball going in.  Mattocks and the rest of us rejoiced at what was a well deserved and long awaited goal.

Only one minute later Morales had the chance to kill the game when Mattocks got through on a break on the left hand side of the pitch. Colorado was throwing men forward in an attempt to get the draw.  Russell Teibert recovered a defensive header and hit a high ball to Mattocks who squirmed away from his defender.  Mattocks, Morales and Miller charged down on Colorado’s goal with only one defender to beat.  Mattocks drew the sole defender over and then side footed the ball to Morales, who, with only the keeper to beat from 12 yards, placed a cross shot to the further post which Irwin got a touch on with his foot, putting the ball wide.  Had Morales scored it was 2-0 and we were on our way to a win and three points.  Sadly, missed opportunities by Mattocks and Morales in front of goal with only Irwin to beat cost us the match, with an assist by the referee.

Colorado lost possession of the ball deep in the Whitecaps end in the 77th minute; Matias Laba got possession of the ball and started a counter attack.  He was hunted down and fouled from behind by Nick LaBrocca, who used both arms to grab Laba by the shoulder, pulling him back from behind.  It was a blatant foul by a player trying to stop a counter attack.  If the referee was competent and knew anything about football, the foul would be called and a yellow card would be given to LaBrocca.  FIFA has encouraged yellow cards for players who break up counter attacks with fouls.  Referee Stavridis missed that memo and failed to blow a foul on LaBrocca.  Laba collapsed after being fouled and handled the ball, thinking he must have drawn a foul. The ref sent him off for a second yellow card.  There it was, another unbelievable call by a MLS referee which defied explanation. The performance by referee Stavridis was exceptionally bad, and turned the match in Colorado’s favour.  

Jose Mari wonder strike eludes Ousted

Jose Mari wonder strike eludes Ousted

Coach Robinson must have rued substituting Koffee for Fernandez earlier, because the Whitecaps were now down to ten men, and the back four now had absolutely no defensive midfielders to stop attacks coming through.  Small wonder that the Rapids’ Jose Mari had all of the time in the world to hit a wonder goal in the 79th minute on the half volley from exactly the spot Laba would have been had he still been on the pitch.  All credit to Jose Mari, it was an absolutely magnificent strike, and if we see a better one this season I will be surprised.

Just three minutes later and Jose Mari had struck another perfect curling shot past an out-of-position Ousted, whose view was blocked by his own defenders who were defending deep in the penalty area.  Ousted did not get anywhere near the ball as the shot easily beat him. Within the space of five minutes, the match went from the Whitecaps win column to the loss column.

The Whitecaps, to their credit, kept pushing for a goal down a man, winning a number of corners and free kicks in Colorado’s half. Unfortunately the Whitecaps had a poor night in dead ball situations, and there was no equalizer to be had.

Even if the referee changed the match with his farcical sending off of Laba, it was the inability of Mattocks and Morales to finish clear chances and the inability to capitalize on dead ball situations which cost the Whitecaps the match.  

What we needed in this match was Camilo.  I left BC Place with no doubt in my mind that if the Whitecaps had paid the little Brazilian what he was worth, we would have at least three more points than we do now.



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  1. All the whining about the missed call is , no offense, sad. NEWS BULLETIN MLS refs miss calls….but every kid learns by U12 to play the whistle. Laba assumed there was a foul and handled a live ball intentionally…the Loss is solely his to bear. Full stop…

    As Jun Marquis Davidson did last season with his “what no call?…ok I will just head butt you” Laba blew it.

  2. I do agree with your comment about camilo although I felt mattocks only missed one opportunity and should have had a goal and an assist (morales) last night. I am very happy with Mattocks play this season…

  3. I was at the game and have a different take on the game, than to blame the ref. How about the coach who took off a very effective Koffie a defensive midfielder and replace him with an offensive minded midfielder. Then he replaces the 2 best 2 way players in Mattocks and Miller while the game was 1-0 and replace them with offence first forwards. But the one you need to pin the blame on is Labba who knew he had a yellow card who also knows a intentional hand which it was is also a yellow card offence. And finally the blame lies with Oustad who has to be the slow goalie since Habermann and Parkes the difference is those 2 were 6’4 keepers and Oustad thinks he is why else would he not move his feet before diving as I was sitting 5 rows behind him and I coach goalies and both shots were curlers not bullets.

    • Ousted looks awkward on a lot of the goals that go in… I think if he was in position he should have gotten somewhere close to that second goal… He was miles away! I think Robbo gambled to win the game then was undermined by the freak Laba incident. The blame was entirely the ref’s, and I refuse to blame Laba. LaBrocca fouled Laba from behind and the ref was right there… Unforgivable!
      Thanks for your comments!

      • Laba blew it.simple

  4. Agree with the majority here. Yes, ref blew the call – no doubt. But Laba (already on a yellow) just can’t handle the ball in that circumstance without first hearing a whistle.

    Whitecapsfan, you’re overwhelmingly a voice of reason – but in this case, we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

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