Returning Whitecaps stumble against Kansas City

July 13, 2015 at 10:00 pm | Posted in Vancouver Whitecaps, Whitecaps season 2015 | 1 Comment
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The Vancouver Whitecaps road trip was so long I had forgotten the names of the people sitting around me. The one fellow whose name I did remember was Italian football great Carlo Ancelotti. He must have been desperate to see some football but I was a bit embarrassed by what we showed him.

Sporting Kansas City is a serious football club with great fans and owners who take success seriously. We always knew it was going to be a tough match, even with Graham Zusi out of it playing for the USA in the Gold Cup, along with Whitecaps players Darren Mattocks and Russell Teibert.

Another notable absence was that of our Captain Pedro Morales who seems to have missed a lot of games with his calf strain. We could have used him tonight but he was signing autographs and posing for photos with the aforementioned Ancelotti instead.

Coach Carl Robinson started an attacking team with Rivero up front, Manneh, Rosales and Techera in attacking midfield, Koffie and Laba in defensive midfield, Beitashour, Parker, Waston and Harvey in defence and the ever present, (and MLS player of the month), Ousted in goal.

It began well as Manneh looked in the mood, dipping in and out of KC defenders early on. Unfortunately this was a duel that Manneh would lose as the night went on, as his marker soon figured him out and neutralized the little Gambian, who faded into obscurity in the second half.

Much of the play was on the right side of the pitch as Rosales, Rivero and Techera worked well together with neat touches and tidy passes. Rosales played particularly well, playing the entire match and getting lots of good crosses into the box, but the Whitecaps never really got on the end of them all night.

The Whitecaps looked very strong early on, and judging by the first 15 minutes, a betting person would have put his pound on the Whitecaps winning this match.

Tim Parker glanced a perfect near post corner kick from Techera past KC goalkeeper Melia only to have KC’s ace midfielder Feilhaber nod the ball out of danger from his defensive position at the far post. It was a shame because Parker was robbed of what would have been a well deserved (and spectacular) first MLS goal.

Thought the first half ended at 0-0 there looked like there was lots to look forward to. The halftime break somehow switched things over and KC were in command of the game for much of the second half.

In the 52nd minute KC earned a corner kick which the Whitecaps managed to clear. The clearance only went so far as a KC defender who found Nemeth with an over the head kick into the Whitecaps third. Nemeth found himself alone in possession of the ball at the right corner of the box. A marking mix-up involving Harvey and Manneh allowed Nemeth all the time he needed to find defender Ellis with a perfect cross which split Parker and Waston. Ellis’s glancing header to the far post was sublime and too much even for the excellent Ousted to stop.

It was slack defending by Manneh, who put in only the weakest of efforts to stop the cross from going in. Parker and Waston both let Ellis run in without the hint of a physical challenge for the ball. It was an example of how goals in soccer come from consecutive defensive errors.

Soon after Kansas City hit the post and the Whitecaps had to regroup to get back in control of this match. Koffee and Laba both had trouble passing the ball out of central midfield and the former was taken off for Deybi Flores in the 60th minute. Flores really did nothing better than Koffie did, however, and failed to change the game for the better.

Techera had an opportunity 15 minutes into the second half which came from a superb back-heel from Rivero. Rosales was cut off at the far post so Techera chose to shoot at close range and hit Melia rather than the back of the net. It was our best chance to score.

The now ineffective Manneh was taken out for Erik Hurtado after 80 minutes, but Hurtado barely touched the ball. Veteran Robbie Earnshaw came on late but too late to do anything. By the end of the match the Whitecaps were playing with four up front, three in midfield and three at the back. Ousted stared rushing up for corners.

Parker rose brilliantly again and headed towards goal in the last minute of regular time but that man Melia dove to his right and barely got to the ball, palming it around the post for another corner kick.

The Whitecaps lost this game in the second half with one defensive breakdown. They had the chances to win the match but came up against a determined and organized Kansas City with its hot goalkeeper. There was definitely the sense that the Whitecaps ran out of ideas trying to break down a stubborn KC defense. It was rather like watching the home match against Seattle earlier in the season. Frustration was the overall feeling.

Had the Whitecaps won this match they would have been at the top of the Western Conference but it all went up in smoke to leave a very compressed table in which we are in the thick of it rather than on top of it. Now it is only two points between first and sixth place.

The man who might change it all for the better, Morales, seems to be still hobbled and I doubt if we will see him travel to Portland to play on the plastic grass there.

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  1. A good summary of the game. Once again we suffered an inability to perform well enough in the second half. This is getting to be monotonous. Half time is feel-good time and then the second half fails to produce much of anything. Frustrating to say the least. We can create well in midfield but finishing off that creativity too often comes to nought. Ah well, maybe Portland will provide an antidote to our problems!
    Dunc.


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