Caps lucky to scrape out draw with Orlando

July 17, 2016 at 10:00 pm | Posted in Vancouver Whitecaps, Vancouver Whitecaps 2016, Whitecaps Season 2016 | 3 Comments
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This match was fun in terms of entertainment value.  This in spite of the fact that yet another marquis player, the illustrious Brazilian Kaka, failed to show up at BC Place.  There seems to be a rule in Major League Soccer that star players are disqualified from playing in Vancouver.

There were some notables who did show up for Orlando, however, including Canadian Cyle Larin and Brazilian Julio Baptista, two very good strikers.  Both would do damage to the Whitecaps on this night.

The Whitecaps started with Ousted in goal,  Harvey at left back, Waston and Parker in the middle and Smith at right back.  Laba and Jacobson played in defensive midfield, while Morales and Bolanos flanked Mezquida in offensive midfield.  Kudo started as lone striker up front.

The Whitecaps defending on this night was very poor and it was only through dumb luck and some great goalkeeping that the Whitecaps managed a draw.  The Whitecaps continued the poor form that had them starting the match with the worst defensive record in the Western Conference of MLS.

It took only 13 minutes for Orlando to find out that Jordan Smith was the weak spot in the Whitecaps armour.  Orlando’s Boden easily cut back past Smith and passed the ball back to the waiting Baptista who hit a solid low shot towards the Whitecaps net from 18 yards.  The ball took a slight touch off of Laba’s boot and the ball flew through the legs of  an unbalanced Ousted.  The big keeper looked foolish and clumsy on the play but he would make up for this awkward looking goal with superb saves in the rest of the match.

Jacobson had a very good match and it was his hard work that created an equalizer on 34 minutes for the Whitecaps.    Jacobson fought his was through two Orlando players to possess the ball at the top of Orlando’s penalty area.  He slipped the ball to Bolanos who took two touches to nut-meg his defender, who brought him down.  It might have been a penalty but for the fact that the ball fell to Kudo directly in front of goal; the Japanese striker lashed the ball towards Orlando’s net only for big Joe Bendik to stop it with his foot.  The ball spun in the air directly to Mezquida who made no mistake and headed the ball into Orlando’s goal.

It was a bit of a pinball goal, but full credit was due to the Whitecaps for putting heavy pressure on Orlando’s defence.  It was 1-1.

Pedro Morales had a bit of a quiet match, but had a big impact on the scoreline nonetheless using his dead ball expertise.  Just before halftime the Whitecaps won a free kick 35 yards out to the left of Orlando’s goal.  Bolanos and Morales both lined up as candidates to cross the ball in but Morales took the kick and hit a hard curling cross to the far post.  Incredibly, our striker Kudo was completely unmarked and slammed the ball home with a solid header which flew past Orlando’s keeper.  It was a beautiful goal but one wondered how our lone striker could escape the notice of the entire Orlando defence and score with no opposition at all.  The poor defending was not only practised by the home club.

Cyle Larin proved to be a threat for Orlando all night.  The Canadian striker was one of the few strikers we have seen who could go toe to toe physically with our Costa Rican giant Waston.  Larin nearly drew the match just before half time but Ousted made a great save off of the high shot to keep the score at 2-1.

The half ended 2-1 and it looked like this could be a win with the Whitecaps heading to the dressing room on an emotional high having just scored.

It was Larin, however,  who drew the game level just after half time with a deft close range header from a perfect in-swinging cross from Molino.  The goal exhibited our lack of defensive organization as big Larin ended up competing for the ball with wee Jordan Harvey.  Guess who won?  Neither Waston nor Parker, who are supposed to be our centre backs, were any where near Larin.  It is a mystery to me why and I am sure also to Whitecaps coach Carl Robinson.

The Whitecaps dodged a bullet when Jordan Smith brought Baptista down in the penalty area with a clumsy challenge.  Smith looked like an amateur on the play, failing to clear the ball from danger and having it bounce back to Baptista’s feet in the penalty area.  You could see it coming as the experienced Brazilian wrong-footed Smith who fouled Baptista right in front of the referee for a penalty kick.

Baptista picked up the ball to take the penalty then promptly did a “Zaza” by hitting the ball embarrassingly high and wide of the goal.  The cheers and laughter from the home crowd which followed stung Baptista who put his head in his hands in despair.

In the 76th minute the crowd got what we were hoping for: a look at new Whitecaps signing Alfonso Davies.  Those who paid attention to the Canadian Championship will know him well, but this was Davies’ first start in an MLS game under an MLS contract.  Davies impressed with his speed and work rate.  Though only 15 years old he proved he could withstand physical challenges as well and even win them.  He had a decent crack at goal after a surging run that had Orlando’s defenders in a panic. Davies looks the real thing, unlike the other young players who have come up from the Whitecaps largely barren youth system.  Could he be the next Peter Beardley?

Masato Kudo nearly put the Whitecaps ahead with a header provided for him by Mezquida on a Whitecaps counter attack.  Bendik proved himself equal to the task of saving the near post effort. Had Kudo chosen the far post this could have been the winning goal.

Orlando had its own go at winning the match just before the end of time off of a corner kick.  Orlando defender Mateos got a free header at the far post, which again exposed the Whitecaps lack of defensive organization.  The header was saved by Ousted, who knocked the ball over the bar with his arm for a miraculous reflex save.  Not for the first time, the Whitecaps had David Ousted to thank for what the Whitecaps got out of the game.

A sombre Carl Robinson later expressed his gratitude for the point the Whitecaps got.  The fact is it was a point which was quite undeserved.  But for an incompetent Baptista penalty kick and a miracle save by Ousted, this could have easily been a 4-2 loss.

It would be no surprise to see new signing David Edgar line up with Waston at centre back with Parker shifting over to right back to replace the struggling Jordan Smith in future matches.   Smith showed all of his defensive shortcomings in this match and proved that a defence is only as strong as its weakest player.

While Tim Parker has played well, his partnership with Waston is not as successful as last year’s Waston-Kah partnership.   With Kah now unfit due to age and injuries I hope that David Edgar is up for the job because a solution to our defensive woes must come or this year will be a complete wash.






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  1. The reason marquis players don’t play in Vancouver is simple. We have a plastic pitch and they don’t want to get injured.

    This is also the reason why our own players spend so much time out of action.

    Maybe, if we had a proper grass surface and players weren’t injured so much, we could keep a stable side and win a few more matches!!

    • Amen, brother Angus! It is a shame that we have three great Pacific Northwest teams with great supporters but not a blade of grass in sight. If you type “Fieldturf” into the search field you will see my numerous diatribes about how plastic grass is holding us back from being serious football clubs.

  2. I used to argue that Fifa level 3 turf does not contribute to more injuries (I can dig up the studies again etc) but in the end it’s not about science it’s about preference and I agree now the caps need a grass solution. Note I believe the science/technology is available now to make it work even in BC place without a high premium. The problem would be the Impact on special events.

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