Ouch! Whitecaps beat selves again in KCMarch 13, 2016 at 2:21 pm | Posted in Vancouver Whitecaps, Vancouver Whitecaps 2016 | 1 Comment
Tags: Carl Robinson, Kekuta Manneh, Octavio Rivero, Sporting Kansas City, Vancouver Whitecaps
Oh dear. For the second game on the trot the Vancouver Whitecaps shot themselves in the foot, and in doing so, lost 2-1 to Western Conference rival Sporting Kansas City.
It is difficult enough playing away in Kansas City. They have a better stadium, better organized support, a better playing surface, and, as it turns out… a better team. It may be a bit harsh to say a better coach, but Carl Robinson will have to admit that the two players he chose to bring in to the team this week lost us the match.
Robbo chose to start Deybi Flores in preference to Kianz Froese beside Matias Laba. He chose Jordan Smith over Fraser Aird to play at right back. The second choice could not really be faulted, because Aird did not look sharp against Montreal, but the first was a bit of a mystery given that Froese actually played well last week.
The Whitecaps started with Ousted in goal and Smith, Waston, Parker and Harvey in defense. Laba and Flores played in defensive midfield, while Morales was flanked by Techera and Manneh further up the pitch. Rivero laboured away alone again up front.
For the Whitecaps the mental sharpness that was missing against Montreal was also missing in this match. In the fourth minute Flores inexplicably coughed the ball up 30 yards out from our goal for Kansas’ Dom Dwyer to tee up for a fantastic strike high into the roof of the Whitecaps’ net. It was an astonishing mistake, especially since Flores was under no real pressure at the time. While he is a young player and young players make mistakes, it did not look like the play of a professional footballer.
Kekuta Manneh had the chance to bring the Whitecaps back into the game on twenty minutes. Striker Rivero put Manneh in only facing Sporting keeper Tim Melia with a delicate chip pass. Manneh had plenty of time, but shot the ball straight into the chest of the onrushing Melia. It was a poor effort and, the usually electrifying Manneh has plodded through the last two matches. Perhaps his ankle is still bugging him.
Just before the half KC scored another goal which stood on its own merit. The only thing the Whitecaps contributed to this goal was standing back in admiration and watching it in wonder like the rest of us. KC star Graham Zusi started a move in which KC played soccer tennis ball back and forth across the Whitecaps penalty area for Dwyer to eventually slot home at close range, completely unmarked by any Vancouver Whitecaps defender. Whitecaps defenders Waston and Harvey did more ball watching than they would have at Wimbledon while KC players moved freely around our penalty area.
Early in the second half Jordan Smith made the next glaring error. He brought down Zusi from directly behind just before halftime. The referee really had no choice but to send him off.
At half time coach Robinson took Flores off for Froese, which looked a bit like closing the gate after the animals had already escaped, and Aird came in for Techera to play at the now vacant right back position. To the embarrassment of Smith and Flores the team then looked a lot more solid and played much better in the second half.
Pedro Morales had another quiet match but rose to prominence when he put a nicely weighted through ball in for Rivero to dash on to. Melia came out and brought Rivero down in the penalty area and the referee called penalty. No card of any colour was given to Melia, and, but for one yellow card, our opponent was given a general amnesty against all serious punishment from the referee as per usual in matches involving the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Morales confidently stroked the penalty to the left of Melia, who dived right. It was 2-1 and the Whitecaps were looking good for a chance to tie it up. There were promising signs that it might happen, and a post-whistle shot by Morales went like a laser beam into the roof of KC’s net, living us to wonder what might have been.
Big striker Blas Perez came on as a substitute for Laba and really looked the part in the last third of the game. With Rivero still firing blanks, Perez made an argument that perhaps he should start rather than the Uruguayan. Frankly, I would love to see it.
With two losses in a row, the happy-go-lucky spirit that the Whitecaps had in 2015 has disappeared. There were only glum faces and downward looks as the ‘Caps left the field. Imagine how poor Nico Mezquida feels, not having had a sniff of any playing time whatsoever over two matches.
With an away visit to the similarly struggling Seattle Sounders next week, a 0-3 start to the 2016 season looks like a distinct possibility. It is too early to call it a crisis, because success in MLS means peaking during the playoffs, (if you can make them).
Job number one for Carl Robinson has got to be cutting the string of glaring match-losing errors. For the second match in a row the Whitecaps have beaten themselves.