New Whitecaps players come good in Cascasia winMay 7, 2016 at 11:18 pm | Posted in Vancouver Whitecaps, Vancouver Whitecaps 2016, Whitecaps Season 2016 | 2 Comments
Tags: Cascadia Cup, Cascadia derby, Christian Bolanos, major league soccer, Nat Borchers, Pedro Morales, Portland Timbers, Vancouver Whitecaps
When looking for explanations why the Vancouver Whitecaps were playing so poorly in the first third of the 2016 Major League Soccer season there was a simple explanation. The new guys coming in, in particular Aird, Bolanos and Kudo, were not playing as well for the Whitecaps as those players we had sent away: Beitashour, Koffie and Mattocks.
Aird played as though his internal GPS was broken and got lost on the pitch, resulting in goals against. Bolanos had good skill but played defence like one of those dogs that doesn’t know how to play “fetch”. Kudo looked like he needed to go to the gym and get some muscles. The only guy of the new crew who was looking to be useful was Blas Perez, even if he hadn’t scored a goal yet.
We needed our new acquisitions to raise their game against Cascadia rivals the Portland Timbers to give our season a bump. Bolanos, Aird, Kudo and Perez did just that. They all played superb matches and gave us fans renewed hope for a season that was going sideways.
The other good news on this match day was that our finest player, Pedro Morales, finally looked fit and in the mood to play football.
Coach Carl Robinson did a masterful job and picked a team that clicked from the start against the Timbers with Ousted in goal; Aird, Waston, Parker and Harvey at the back; Laba and Morales in deep midfield; Bolanos, Mezquida and Techera in attacking midfield; and striker Kudo alone up front.
With this line-up the ball moved smoothly from back to front. First half chances to score were plentiful for the Whitecaps, if not fruitful. The Whitecaps created chance after chance, forcing saves from Portland’s keeper Gleeson. Gleeson had played a blinder against TFC last Saturday and looked like he was going to do the same against Vancouver. There also seemed to be some kine of magnetic field around Portland’s goal as numerous Vancouver shots bent narrowly wide.
As often happens in this funny old game, Portland scored late in the half against the run of play. It was a superb goal orchestrated by the intelligent passing and running of Darlington Nagbe, (why didn’t we draft him?), in combination with giant striker Fanendo Adi. Adi flicked the ball back to Nagbe, who put the ball across Ousted’s goal for the bearded defender Nat Borchers to tap in at the far post. It looked like another frustrating match as the Whitecaps could not reply before the halftime whistle went. We were one goal down and in card trouble already with key men Waston and Morales both picking up yellow cards early in the match.
It took 15 minutes of hard work in the second half before the Whitecaps drew level. After all of their masterful approach play failed, the Whitecaps got a lucky bounce off of a Portland defender which put Kudo in alone at a steep angle on the left side of the Timbers goal. Kudo shaped up to shoot and managed to squeak the ball between Gleeson and the near post for his first goal for the Whitecaps. The sellout crowd were delirious, as was Kudo. It was about time he scored one.
Six minutes later Bolanos and Perez combined brilliantly for the go-ahead goal. Bolanos managed to find himself in lots of space (he has a special knack for finding time and space with the ball), on the right side of the pitch. He put a deft dipping cross into the path of a charging Perez. Perez leapt to head the ball and barely missed it. It was enough to put Gleeson off, however, and to his shock and our amusement, Gleeson lost track of the flight of the ball and it bounced through his legs into the net. Cue more ecstatic celebrations inside BC Place.
New boy Aird went on a spectacular run from our own half all the way to the Timber’s penalty area. Even if the run failed to result in a goal, it showed that Aird has grown in confidence, ability, and ambition. Robbo must have put a spell on him in the dressing room.
The Whitecaps did a fine job of playing possession football for the rest of the match but nearly blew it late on when Portland charged down the field in a quick counter attack from a failed Whitecaps corner kick. Jordan Harvey fell in a challange and left three Timbers players bearing down on our net with only one defender pursuing them. After one pass Diego Valeri, arguably Portland’s most gifted player, was alone on our goal with only Ousted to beat. Valeri took a clumsy touch of the ball and Pedro Morales, finally playing like a captain, managed to track back and reel Valeri in. Morales managed to touch the ball to Ousted who cleared with his feet. Disaster was averted.
To see Morales play an entire game and play so well was a joy and perhaps the best news of this match. There is no doubt the Whitecaps play much better when he is in the side.
When the final whistle blew it was like a breath of fresh air. The Whitecaps had played very well, had scored two goals in open play, and had staged a come-from-behind victory against a Cascadia rival. Bolanos was correctly named the man of the match.
All-in-all a great afternoon to remember at BC Place.