Whitecaps tie TFC

July 16, 2014 at 10:09 pm | Posted in Vancouver Whitecaps, Whitecaps season 2014 | Leave a comment
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The MLS fixture list called for the Vancouver Whitecaps to play three games in eight days, so Coach Carl Robinson was going to need to call on his squad in the Wednesday night road match against Toronto Football Club. The recent lack of success also called for Robinson to tinker with the line up.

The World Cup break has not been kind to the Whitecaps at all. Only one win in the five matches since the World Cup break meant the LA Galaxy, which is, as of tonight, undefeated in eight games, threatened to swallow the Whitecaps up in the standings.

Robinson’s Line up included Ousted; Adekugbe (who replaced the suspended Harvey); Mitchell; Leveron; Beitashour; Laba; Reo Coker; Morales; Teibert; Mattocks and Hurtado.  Robinson started two strikers, and played a four man diamond midfield with Morales up top Teibert and Reo-Coker on the flanks and Laba at the bottom. Gershon Koffie was relegated to the substitute’s bench. It is not clear if Koffie a had been benched for poor play or whether Robbo was resting him for Saturday’s RSL match.

After watching the World Cup for a month, watching MLS is, shall we say, sobering. The players seem to be engaged in more of a physical strength contest than a soccer match. There was precious little fluidity in the first half as neither team had the skill to break down the other. The teams went to the dressing room with a 0-0 draw on the board.

I have never really been a big Russell Teibert fan and I cursed him in the first half wondering why the Whitecaps had signed him to a long term contract recently. As is usual with my critical views of the wee fellow, he then goes and does something quite brilliant in response. I must say the build up to the Whitecaps opening goal five minutes into the second half looked like something that would not be out of place in the World Cup.

Leveron stole the ball from a TFC player and flicked a perfect pass under pressure with his left foot to Morales. Morales spotted Teibert charging down the left flank with a perfectly timed run which went undetected by TFC’s defenders. Morales passed the ball to Teibert who took the ball close to TFC’s end line. TFC’s defenders expected a high ball, but Teibert hit a hard low cross which managed to thread its way through four TFC defenders to Darren Mattocks who side footed the ball with apparent ease into the net from eight yards.

But could the Whitecaps see the game out?

In the 62nd minute TFC’s Jermain Defoe latched on to a deep pass and passed the ball back to Jackson. Jackson dribbled the ball into the box on the left flank. Mitchell failed to challenge Jackson outside of the box and let the player stroll unopposed into the box. Jackson got by Mitchell who knocked him as he went by into the path of the lunging Reo-Coker. Reo-Coker missed the ball entirely and brought down the striker.

The blame was to be shared: Mitchell should not have let the striker get into the box unopposed, and, as happened against Colorado a few matches back, Reo-Coker was too slow in the tackle and missed the ball, taking down the man instead. Reo-Coker’s lack of fitness has been a theme this season, and giving away similar penalties in recent matches demonstrates his body is not keeping up to where his mind wants to be. He still struggles to find fitness and the excellent form he had last season.

Jermain Defoe dispatched the penalty with ease, sending Ousted the wrong way. It was 1-1.

Reo-Coker was subbed off for Koffie in the 70th minute. Ten minutes later Kekuta Manneh came on for Teibert, but he disappointed again, making little impact at all on the match. Hurtado came off in a time-killing substitution for Fernadez.

TFC threw men forward late in the match and narrowly missed scoring on two headers from Gilberto and Hagglund. The referee blew for time soon after.

Usually a point on the road is a good thing, but the news came later that the LA Galaxy had beaten New England 5-1. This meant the Galaxy went rocketing past the Whitecaps in the standings, meaning we are currently out of the playoff spots. It is going to be a real dogfight down the stretch, and, like the past two years, it will probably go down to the last match of the season before we know whether the Whitecaps will make to the playoffs.

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