Whitecaps lose to Portland in travesty match

May 23, 2016 at 5:10 pm | Posted in Vancouver Whitecaps | Leave a comment

It was another dramatic multi-goal match for the Vancouver Whitecaps as they lost 4-2 in Portland against their Cascadia rivals.  After last week’s 7 goal thriller in Toronto it was the Whitecaps turn to embarrass themselves with shoddy defending. The refereeing in this match was even more embrassing than the Whitecaps defending, however.

When the Whitecaps signed Pa Modou Kah for the 2016 season I was very happy.  Kah played very well last season and was a great boost to team spirit.  Kah’s happy-go-lucky attitude helped the youngsters on the team to relax, even if he made some astonishing errors on the pitch from time to time.

With Fraser Aird suspended Whitecaps manager Robinson chose to start our usual centre-back Tim Parker at right fullback in Aird’s position and put Kah in the middle against his old club.  This turned out to be a blunder as Kah ended up conceding two penalty kicks that killed us.  The first penalty early in the match was due to Kah’s lack of match fitness and general sharpness.  He missed the ball when it was passed back to him and deflected it into the Whitecaps 18 yard box. He then brought a man down trying desperately to get the ball back.  Diego Valeri converted the penalty and it was 1-0 Portland with only four minutes gone. Instead of leading the team against his old one, Kah had his worst match yet for the Vancouver Whitecaps.

Kah’s central defending partner Kendall Waston also had a poor match, slipping and falling  on the plastic grass at Providence Park where a routine clearance was all that was needed to get rid of a slow low cross.  Waston left the ball for Portland striker Mcinnerney to take and score.  Again, it was a lack of sharpness and awareness on Waston’s part.   Our centre backs put us in a deep hole and we were down 2-0 at half time.

Robbo must have made a stirring speech at half time because the Whitecaps came out with guns blazing in the second half.   The in-form Kekuta Manneh drove a shot at goal which deflected off of a Portland defender and into the net over a sprawling Portland goalkeeper Jake Gleeson. It was 2-1 early in the second half and it was game on.

The Whitecaps were pressuring Portland heavily and were winning the ball in virtually every tackle when referee Ted Unkel turned the tide in Portland’s favour by calling a handball on Kah.  Kah was directly in front of goal when a deflected cross hit him high on his ribcage.  The ball was not headed into the net, and there was no Portland player in scoring position, yet Referee Unkel whistled for a penalty kick.  Unkel could not even see where the ball hit Kah from his position on the field.  It was a classic poor MLS refereeing.

No referee in any serious football league would have called that a penalty, but in MLS this kind of call gets made week after week.  Referee Unkel in particular is known to have a hair trigger for cheap penalty kicks.  Frankly, this guy embarrassed himself and lost control of the match.  As the second half continued, managers from both teams and players on both sides of the pitch were laughing at Unkel, even more so when he called another unmeritorious penalty kick at the other end of the pitch.  Morales dispatched the penalty for the last goal of the match.  Unkell turned this important Cascadia derby match into a showcase for his own incompetence.  Fans of both teams deserved a lot better.

With such poor refereeing plaguing MLS matches how long is it before we start asking for Commissioner Don Garber’s head?  He defends every ridiculous referring decision made  and even the notorious discipline committee, (DISCO, as it is now called)  which, more often than not, gets the call wrong again later on in the week. Garber, his referees , and the DISCO all have a knowledge of the game which is behind that of the fans, and we are getting tired of it.

While the refereeing was very poor indeed, there is no doubt the Whitecaps contributed to their own downfall with horrific defending.  Two of the four goals came from defending errors.  The other two came from refereeing errors.  Darlington Nagbe scored a wonderful free kick from a non-foul called on Jordan Harvey, who won the ball cleanly with a well timed tackle outside of the Whitecaps box.

Waston got sent off after the match to make matters worse.  Referee Unkel blew the whistle to end the match and neither Waston nor Portland’s Asprilla heard it.  Asprilla played on and Waston scythed him down after poking the ball away into touch.  Asprilla then went and attacked Waston.   Waston received a red card and Asprilla got nothing.  Perhaps Asprilla earned referee Unkel’s sympathy when he later flopped on the ground and pretended to cry while clutching his ankle.

Sad to say, but our centre backs Waston and Kah, who were a formidable pair last year, played like amateurs in this match.

The Whitecaps are bleeding goals at an alarming rate with seven goals conceded in the last two matches.  They are also failing to keep their discipline on the pitch.  Red and yellow cards, along with the suspensions which follow, are getting the Whitecaps into real trouble this season.

Coach Robinson must take his share of the blame for this match, and surely his decision to start Kah at centre back is one that he will rue.  Kah, who is the happy face of the Vancouver Whitecaps,  needs start preparing properly for matches and thinking seriously about playing real football.





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