Whitecaps first kick is a bore draw v Philly

March 6, 2017 at 9:56 pm | Posted in Vancouver Whitecaps | Leave a comment

I waited all weekend and walked through sheeting ice pellets for that?

The first Vancouver Whitecaps match of the 2017 season was a disappointing bore.  The Whitecaps decided to play the first match of the MLS season as late as possible on Sunday because the team had only two full day’s rest from last Thursday’s successful CONCACAF Champions League match against the New York Red Bulls.  Our game was the last of match day 1 weekend, and not the only 0-0 draw among the games, as rusty and unfit MLS players clunked their way into action after a long off-season.

With injuries, suspensions, and an exhausted squad, it was bound to be a bit of a struggle getting anything other than a mediocre team out to play for the Whitecaps.  It was an underwhelming line-up starting the match with Ousted in Goal, and Williams, Dean,  Parker, and Harvey on the backline.  Wingers Techera and Davies flanked a central midfield pairing of Laba and Jacobson.  Manneh and Hurtado played up front.

What was apparent all night was a lack of creativity and fluidity in our midfield.  Laba and Jacobson did a good job defensively, but the passing from these two was mostly backwards to Dean and other defenders to hoof the ball up hopefully to the front line.  What made it all worse was watching the majestic Bosnian Haris Medunjanin play beautifully in midfield for Philadelphia.  What I would give to have a player like him (Atiba Hutchinson please come over!).

It was one of those matches where we end up talking about how good defenders were.  Ousted looked solid and unusually calm in goal, and Christian Dean made a triumphant return to first team football with a composed and mature game at centre back.  After suffering all last season with terrible right fullbacks, we seem to have found a real one in Sheanon Williams. Williams is a strong and graceful player who looked both fit and capable with the ball at his feet.  In terms of overall team strength, Williams looks to be an excellent acquisition.

Christian Techera was disappointing and squandered the best chance of the match by dragging the ball embarrassingly wide when a move started by youngster Davies put him in alone with only Philadelphia keeper Blake to beat.

Alfonso Davies and Kekuta Manneh clearly suffered from a lack of rest following Thursday nights game.  Even if he seemed a bit muted, Davies created a few electrifying moments, one of which ended up with a defender Fabinho taking out a linesman after trying to foul Davies.  He failed to stop Davies, but the referee called a mysterious foul on Davies.  After all, it would be too exciting to let play continue!

The refereeing was the ordinary substandard garbage we have come to expect for MLS matches.  Referee Sorin Stoica just loved the sound of his own whistle and seemed to blow it every single time there was a physical challenge in midfield.  Consequently the match had a choppy feel to it and no fluidity.

Substitutes Montero (for Manneh) and Shea (for Hurtado) allowed us to look at the new boys in an MLS match.  Shea seemed unable to click with Techera, who had problems clicking with anyone on this night.  Shea looked like he will be a real benefit to the Whitecaps going forward; he displayed some nice foot skills and has a great physical presence.  Shea’s timing was a bit off with his new teammates but if he is able to get into a rhythm back in his natural attacking position I think he will be a real benefit to the Whitecaps.

Montero ran majestically around the pitch but it was not the type of match for us to get a good look at him.  Techera made way for Mezquida, but the Uruguayan came on too late to really make a contribution.

We would have gone away satisfied with just one goal and it nearly happened off of a corner kick when an unmarked “goal king Harvey” volleyed an accurate shot towards the corner of the net only for his effort to be cleared off the line by a defender.

When the final whistle blew we all trudged out into the cold thinking we had seen a poor match which felt like a chore to watch.  It was a bit like watching the dull 2016 side play.  Too bad I missed Thursday night’s match because of work!

Perhaps we will have more joy when talented midfielders Bolanos and Reyna recover form their injuries.




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