Vancouver Whitecaps season ends with a whimper

November 9, 2015 at 11:01 pm | Posted in Vancouver Whitecaps | 1 Comment

It was a season of bangs that ended with a whimper. The Vancouver Whitecaps limped out of the Major League Soccer playoffs after having been soundly beaten 0-2 on home turf verses the Portland Timbers. There was no question which was the better team on the night.

Whitecaps fans were left wondering what the result could have been if our only real hope for success on the night, Kekuta Manneh, had not been injured early on.

Coach Carl Robinson put what appeared to be a solid and hopeful team out on the pitch. Defence looked solid as Ousted started in goal with Beitashour, Waston, Parker and Harvey in defense. Koffee and Laba patrolled the defensive midfield While Techera, Morales and Manneh played high midfield. The forlorn, snake-bitten Rivero played up front.

The best news of the night turned out to be the worst news of the night as Pedro Morales started and played the entire match. As the match wore on it was clear that Morales was in no shape to play the game. His fitness was poor and his passing compass was completely off. The man who made superbly accurate passes earlier in the season played as though he was blindfolded.

Morales made a series of embarrassing gaffes throughout the match, the last of which resulted in the second goal Portland scored. Twice he ran after perfectly good passes which he failed to catch, losing possession in dangerous spots.

Robinson’s decision to start Morales turned out to be a hopeful tactical gamble which failed miserably. Morales was good for no more than 30 minutes and should not have started.

The other bit of really bad news was the injury to Kekuta Manneh, who fell victim to the terrible playing surface at BC Place. Manneh fell three times trying to make cuts with the ball; on the third time he injured his ankle so badly that he could not play on.

It was Manneh who provided two scoring opportunities early on that could have changed the match. On the second he hit the goal post only to have the rebound hit Portland’s keeper in the back of the head and go back into touch for a corner kick. It was dreadfully unlucky, as was his injury.

It became clear after the match that Manneh’s injury basically put paid to any chance the Whitecaps had of advancing. Rosales was put on for Manneh, but one wonders why putting speed on for speed with Mattocks was not the option chosen. Rosales is a fine footballer but at 34 or so he is a bit like a turtle.

After Manneh’s injury the Whitecaps played the rest of the match at a dreadfully slow tempo, and Portland’s defenders had an easy time of it, laughing their way through the match and on their way out of BC Place after the final whistle.

Techera provided some bright moments but was ultimately well contained by Portland’s defence which dealt with his speed and dribbling well.

One has to give credit to Portland. The Timbers hung on and withstood some early pressure, and dominated the Whitecaps with some wonderful possession football. This was especially apparent in the second half when the Timbers passed the ball around at will while the Whitecaps looked on in dumbfounded frustration.

Portland scored two good quality goals executed after the kind of intelligent running and passing which was completely absent from the Whitecaps play. On the first goal Valeri slipped away from Beitashour from a throw in, while Koffee was slow to react and adapt to the move. Portland’s Adi finished with the confidence that has been so absent from our own Rivero’s game.

It was hard to comprehend how the Whitecaps could be so poor after finishing third overall in the league. Then again, playoff football is all about which team is peaking at the right time, and while Portland is doing exactly that, the Whitecaps were playing their worst football of the season at precisely the wrong time. It was a tale of two seasons as Portland had terrible injury problems early on in the season, while the Whitecaps suffered their injury woes late on in the season.

The late season injury to our Captain Pedro Morales really killed our season. Our most talented player could not achieve fitness in time to play a serious role in the playoffs. It has become clear that Morales is a moody sort of fellow for whom quality of play is dependant on just the right physical and mental conditions. He is a bit of a sensitive artist, and doubts are creeping in about his physical and mental fitness to play with the consistency we need him to.

Robbie Earnshaw provided the only real joy of the second half when he nearly scored from a bicycle kick soon after coming on. Rosales had a poor match and did not really register any notable positives for the team. I wonder if this is the last we will see of these two great professionals in Whitecaps shirts.

Lets face it, it was a great season. Did we dare dream about finishing third in the league at the beginning of the season? We won the Canadian Championship and with it the chance to play more Champions League football. The last seven or so matches made it seem like we had a terrible season when, in fact, there is a lot to be proud of.

With the youngest squad in MLS, the future looks bright so long as management manages well.

Lets take a break and then look forward to next season!

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  1. It was a great 2/3 season but as usual our summer slump surfaced (late) and as has been the history of the whitecaps managers, the lack of flexibility with players/formation added more fuel to the fire. Robbo has put together relatively strong defensive teams but seems utterly lost when it comes to offense (trying the Rennie tactic of playing players out of position to try and maintain his formation at all Costs). I suspect Robbo has one more season where fans will not be screaming for his head. Hopefully he learns from Caleb Porter who was just a stubborn about his formation until with 8 games to go under pressure of losing his job, he relented and changed.. We all know what happened after that!. If we are sitting mid-season still unable to score…it could get ugly.


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