Whitecaps flop badly against RevolutionJune 20, 2016 at 10:44 pm | Posted in Vancouver Whitecaps, Vancouver Whitecaps 2016, Whitecaps Season 2016 | 1 Comment
Tags: Carl Robinson, Don Garber, Kekuta Manneh, Lee Nguyen, MLS, New England Revolution, Pedro Morales, Vancouver Whitecaps
We knew it was not going to be our strongest team when we headed to this match. The Major League Soccer Discipline Committee and referees had seen to that. The suspension to Kendall Waston was understandable, but the suspensions given to Pedro Morales and Octavio Rivero were beyond stupid. We pay money to see our starters play, not our second stringers, thank you Don Garber.
Isn’t it time to get rid of Garber and get a League Commissioner who actually knows what football is?
After being treated to the sublime football in the European Championships and the Copa Centenario this match was almost guaranteed to be a disappointment. Still, I put on my old Whitecaps jersey, hoped for the best, and headed to the match with old Oasis tunes ringing in my head.
Fraser Aird was still missing so Jordan Smith played at right back. Andrew Jacobsen took Waston’s place with ever presents Tim Parker in the centre and Jordan Harvey at left back. Teibert and Laba lined up in defensive midfield while Nico Mezquida took the number 10 role flanked by Manneh on the left and Techera on the right. Eric Hurtado took on the lone striker role.
New England lined up with no less than three players who have been associated with the Whitecaps in the past: keeper Brad Knighton; midfielder Daigo Kobayashi; and striker Lee Nguyen. New England looked weak and ripe for the picking early on as the Whitecaps buzzed around in their end. Mezquida went close on a steep angled shot. New England rang our bell, however, with a header off the Whitecaps’ crossbar to show they were dangerous too.
In spite of the Whitecaps overall dominance, New England struck first in this match with a Lee Nguyen free kick crossed to the far post in the 31 minute. No less than three Whitecaps (Laba, Smith and Jacobsen) were present to take care of the danger, but big defenders Jacobsen and Smith left it to the tiny Laba to mount a rather pathetic physical challenge to the giant New England defender London Woodbury. Woodbury easily swept Laba aside in the challenge and nodded home to make it 1-0 New England. To call this bad defending would be too charitable; neither Jacobsen not Smith, who should have been taking responsibility for clearing an unremarkable far post cross, even bothered challenging Woodbury at all. It was clear they were all surprised Woodbury was even there. No one detected his run into the box. Oh, how we missed the arial dominance and marking of Waston on this play.
The heroic Nico Mezquida, who always works his backside off for the Whitecaps, drew us level with a lovely free kick ten minutes later from just outside the box. It was a wonderful dipping shot which cleared the wall and beat Knighton to his right side. It was wonderful technique by Mezquida, who kept his upper body and head over the ball when he struck it.
Hurtado missed a stellar breakaway chance just after halftime but his touch let him down and he shot wide of goal. Two players were exposed in this match by the suspensions. One was Andrew Jacobsen, who is just not really up to the job at centre back, and striker Eric Hurtado, who failed to score in a match where he should have. Jacobsen and Hurtado just made us miss Waston and Rivero even more keenly with their poor performances.
Weak defending and poor marking left the Whitecaps exposed again for the second New England goal. Teibert was outmuscled for the ball by none other than Daigo Kobayashi, who hardly had reputation as a strong man when he played here. Teal Bunbary picked up the loose ball and crossed low along the top of the box for Keyln Rowe to shoot low past a sprawling David Ousted. It was a beautifully executed goal which showed all of the qualities that were missing from the Whitecaps on this night. It was 2-1 with plenty of time (35 minutes) left to play.
Another player who put in a substandard performance for Vancouver was Kekuta Manneh. Manneh still perplexes Whitecaps coaching staff and fans alike with his lack of consistency. Hurtado’s best play of the match was to dribble down the left side of New England’s defence and put a low touch-line cross right on Manneh’s foot only to watch the speedy winger sky the ball over the net like an amateur. It was truly a cringeworthy moment for Manneh who was completely unmarked at the time with the whole New England net yawning in front of him. Had Manneh scored it would have at least have given us a point to take away, and it might just have given the Whitecaps the confidence to get a third goal.
As it was the Whitecaps resorted to fruitless long balls over the top of the New England defence for Hurtado to head or chest down. While Hurtado worked like a dog nothing came of it. Substitutions to bring striker Perez, and midfielders Bolanos and Bustos on to the pitch paid no dividends.
It has to be said that there was a lot going against Whitecaps coach Carl Robinson for this game. Even top quality players Bolanos and Perez, who might have saved the match for the Whitecaps had they started, were rested after their Copa Centenario tournament exertions. Both looked and played tired when they came on for the last third of the match.
Frankly, it was a disappointing experience and a reminder that once you scratch beneath the surface of most MLS starting elevens the quality gets poor pretty quick.
With the league rapidly expanding it is time to raise the salary cap and get better players into MLS squads to keep us fans interested for this kind of game.
Especially if MLS officials keep on handing out stupid suspensions to the players we pay to see.