Tags: DC United, Vancouver Whitecaps, Willie Johnston
Poor Wee Willie Johnston came all the way from Scotland to watch a dreadful 0-0 draw with the “beasts of the East”, DC United. It turned out, sadly, that Willie’s hilarious re-enactment of his famous beer swig corner kick was the highlight of the night at BC Place.
The Whitecaps ground out yet another dull 0-0 match, having failed to score yet again. The chorus of boos which droned out at the final whistle from the fans made the disappointment clear. It was the second Saturday night in a row in which the promised party fizzled out into something resembling a funeral.
Coach Carl Robinson, who maintains his sunny demeanour in spite of the drudgery of it all, started an “attacking” side with two strikers instead of one. Darren Mattocks and Seba Fernandez started up front with Morales, Teibert, Rosales and Teibert making up a diamond midfield. Our back line featured Ethan Sampson in his first MLS start for the club at right back, Jordan Harvey patrolled the left side and Kendall Waston and Andy O’Brien played in the centre back positions.
DC United came without two starters: striker Eddie Johnston and midfielder Chris Rolfe. DC United are a very well coached and disciplined squad, and they seemed to be playing the match at half speed, using their resources economically. But for some good positional goalkeeping by Cap’s Keeper David Ousted in the first half when DC striker Espindola latched on to a cross in the clear, the match would have been lost 1-0.
The fact is there were actual positives which came out in the match for the Whitecaps. In the first place our defence was solid, and Waston and O’Brien won virtually every high ball that came their way with fantastic headers. The poor form up front should not detract from the fact we kept a clean sheet. Ousted handled some difficult shooting efforts by DC United which forced around four or so difficult good saves from the big Dane.
The Whitecaps created three good scoring chances which, had there been some luck on their side, would have found the back of the net.
The first chance fell to the hapless Mattocks, who missed a cross from Fernandez, but got a second chance off of a lucky bounce from of a DC defender for a close range volley. He promptly skied it over the crossbar. He ended up on his knees with his hands clasped behind his head, a pose with which we have become all too familiar. Sometimes I wonder if Mattocks’s spectacular misses should be his highlight reel rather than his goals, which are far more pedestrian.
Perdro Morales later put a lovely cross into the box for the giant Waston to head in but the big man just barely missed the ball, which went just by the post. Mattocks had another chance on the left side at the end of the first half but shot his effort straight at Hamid, DC’s goalkeeper. A low shot would have made the keeper work harder for his money.
Jordan Harvey got too much of a near post header from a gorgeous Teibert cross in the second half and put it past the near post.
Kekuta Manneh and Mehdi Ballouchy were brought on for Sebastian Fernandez and Mauro Rosales, who seemed to pick up an ankle injury after throwing himself into a tackle. Manneh added some spark and energy, but it soon fizzled as well, as he and the rest of the Whitecaps failed to unbalance DC United’s well organized defence.
Poor Ethan Sampson played his heart out only to go to ground with a bad cramp in the second half. The injury served to prove the Whitecaps need that USL Pro team in New West to keep their bench players fit. Sam Adekugbe came on for him.
Again, it was Rosales who played with the most character, never giving up and always giving his all. If there is one player in the squad who can bring the Whitecaps out of their doldrums, it is him.
The sense of disappointment was awful at the final whistle, as one got the sense that not only the fans were fed up, but so were the players. How long can it be before the players begin to resent one another for the poor play of the team? Pedro Morales sulked his way through this game again, and we have seen five matches in a row of uninspired performances from him. Not surprisingly our goals have dried up completely as a result. How do we get the real Pedro Morales back?
While it felt like it was all over, the fact is we are still only one point behind Portland with one game in hand. This Wednesday night’s clash with San Jose will be crucial to staying apace with Portland and keeping San Jose out of the race for the last playoff spot in MLS’s Western Conference.
Lets hope Wee Wille Johnston, who will be in attendance again on Wednesday, will be able to return to Scotland with some happy memories of goals scored by his old club, the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Tags: Gerson Koffie, Landon Donovan, Matias Laba, Mauro Rosales
There was a feeling of sad inevitability abut the Vancouver Whitecaps 2-0 loss against the Los Angeles Galaxy. It was rather like watching one of those little Spanish teams travel to Barcelona or Real Madrid. The players all knew what the result would be, but had to go through the motions in any event.
To be fair, it could have been different on another night. The heart of the Whitecaps team, its young and brilliant defensive midfield pairing of the Gershon Koffie and Matias Laba, was missing. The former was injured and the latter was suspended for accumulating too many yellow cards. Russell Teibert and Mehdi Ballouchy replaced Koffie and Laba on the team sheet but came nowhere near to replacing them in terms of quality.
By the time the Whitecaps had adjusted to their new midfield, it was too late and the Whitecaps were down 2-0. On both goals the Whitecaps were caught defending very deeply and succumbed to close range shots from Landon Donovan in the 4th minute and Marcelo Sarvas in the 32nd.
On both goals the Whitecaps looked like practice pylons, however, and again, Laba’s pesky midfield tackling was noticeably absent. It was somewhat horrifying to see Landon Donovan, perhaps the most famous of any player in Major League Soccer, completely unrecognized at the far post by the Whitecaps defence. He scored a goal in the 4th minute completely unmarked and then had another similar chance to score soon after. The Whitecaps seemed to forget how to defend, which is a surprise after so many recent clean sheets.
The second half saw Seb Fernandez taken off for the Whitecaps new star Mauro Rosales at half time. Rosales showed his superb touch and passing ability right from the start and added a whole new dimension to the Whitecaps with his play on the right side of Pedro Morales. Sadly Morales was in poor form in this match, giving up possession of the ball time and time again.
Kekuta Manneh showed some hope that he was getting out of his recent slump. He started the match and, in the second half, went on a long swashbuckling run which ended with a somewhat weak shot that LA’s Penedo stopped comfortably.
Manneh was taken off late for none other than the giant Costa Rican centre back Waston, who surprisingly had his first game on the pitch for the Whitecaps as a striker. Waston knitted together the best passing play of the match for Vancouver when he did a nifty give and go with Darren Mattocks, whose low shot under pressure brought another good save from Penedo, who is becoming one of MLS’s better goalkeepers.
The match ended with Johnny Leveron being sent off for tackling Alan Gordon from behind. It was a typically bad call from an MLS match official. It was a a soft yellow at best, and was nowhere near a straight red card. Lets hope the Whitecaps work to get the red overturned.
The addition of Rosales and Waston to the pitch signalled a shake-up by coach Robinson who knows if he does not make some dramatic and positive changes to the team, all playoff ambitions will surely be dashed.
The loss left the Whitecaps seven points out of the top four in the Western Conference with Portland and Colorado both within 3 points behind them.
From the looks of this match we need Koffie to get better soon. It looks like there will be a lot of pressure on one of the finest footballers ever to don a Vancouver Whitecaps jersey, Mauro Rosales, to turn the stagnant Whitecaps around.