Montero shines in Whitecaps comeback

April 2, 2017 at 10:06 pm | Posted in Vancouver Whitecaps, Whitecaps season 2017 | Leave a comment
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What a change!  After three matches in which no Whitecaps player has played well we get a match in which it is hard to pick man of the match because so many played so well.  Was it Montero, who scored one and created two more?  Was it Laba who score two?  Was it Techera who got it all rolling, scoring one and creating another?  Was it Tchani, who, in his debut match for the Whitecaps played for 30 minutes and was on the pitch for 3 Whitecaps goals?

To say this match was blessed relief would be an understatement.  We were actually able to experience joy at BC Place for the first time in 2017 MLS match play after two truly awful home games against Philly and Toronto.

Coach Carl Robinson started the match with an accent on speed and muscularity up front with striker Hurtado and youngster Davies on the left wing.  Techera, the speedy little Bug, started on right wing flanking Christian Bolanos who got the nod as the number 10 midfielder.  Jacobsen and Laba lined up in defensive midfield in front of a back line of Harvey, Waston, Parker and Williams.  David Ousted pulled the gloves on and played keeper.

Christian Techera was the player who took the leadership role early on in the game for the Whitecaps.  The Bug was buzzing around and nearly gave us an early goal after beating a few defenders in the Galaxy’s 18 yard box but his close range shot was parried by brave keeper Diop in LA’s goal.

On twenty minutes Whitecaps fullback Williams switched the ball to the left side finding Techera who had made a blind side run unnoticed by the LA defence.  Keeper Diop came out of his area and got beaten to the ball by Techera, who took the ball clumsily, but managed to bundle the ball into the back of  the net from 20 yards.  It was the start we needed.

As one would expect from the Galaxy there were some quality players on the pitch including Gio Dos Santos, Ashley Cole, Jelle Van Damme, and  a lesser known player called Alessandrini.  Alessandrini made himself more famous by scoring two very well taken goals in the space of four minutes.  It was 1-2 Galaxy making it eight goals the Whitecaps have conceded in four MLS matches.

Davies had a chance to score when he ball fell loose to him after Diop cleared the ball from out of his area straight to his feet, but the youngster decided to dribble instead and passed the ball to Techera, whose off-balance shot went wide of the net on 45 minutes.

At half time there was a bit of a sinking feeling, but when Robinson took Hurtado off and put Montero in we felt the game might change.  Another change that brought success was newcomer Tony Tchani, who came in for Jacobsen.  Within three minutes of his appearance in the 64th minute, the Whitecaps had scored two goals.

That man Techera was involved again when he was found by Davies who made perfect cross straight to the wee man’s foot.  Techera beat a man and then forced Diop to make a difficult save which rebounded to Montero who put his first MLS goal in for the Whitecaps.  It was 2-2 on 66 minutes.

Right after the kickoff LA coughed up the ball in midfield and the Whitecaps embarked on a quick counter attack.  Montero got the ball on the left and passed the ball to Laba, who was at the top of the penalty area.  Laba struck the ball low to Diop’s right and into the net.

Montero was again involved as he won the ball deep in LA territory and slotted the ball into the path of Bolanos, who beat Diop but not the sprawling Ashley Cole who came to his keeper’s rescue.

It was Montero yet again who broke free down the right on a counter attack in the 87th minute with LA thin at the back.  Montero struck a deadly dipping low shot to the keeper’s left, forcing him to parry into the path of a surging laba, who headed home an easy one from close range.  The Whitecaps were rampant, and Laba had scored two goals on his 100th MLS appearance.

It was a convincing win the Whitecaps badly needed.  With the team looking terrible through the first three MLS games, Coach Robinson must have been fearing for his job.  The players came through for him, however, and demonstrated there is actually great hope for the 2017 season.  The team proved they can score and play entertaining football.

On the other side of the coin is our leaky defence.  If a team concedes an average of two goals a game there is a problem.   Tony Tchani may well prove the solution to this problem, however.  When Tchani came on the team looked confident and had a spine it did not have before.  The team also started moving the ball through the midfield for the first time this year as well, which is very promising.

While we were all sad to see Scooter go, the Manneh-Tchani trade looks like a trade up.




Techera rocket lights up miserable match

July 14, 2016 at 9:52 pm | Posted in Vancouver Whitecaps, Vancouver Whitecaps 2016, Whitecaps Season 2016 | 1 Comment
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The fare that Major League Soccer serves up in its midweek matches is pretty lukewarm stuff.  The participating clubs have usually played on the weekend previous and often have to play the weekend after.  The tendency is to play reserves and give stars a rest, at least for most of the match.

Such was the case at BC Place on Wednesday night, where the match was so boring it felt like an inter-squad game or a reserves match.  The second half was so dull that conversation with neighbouring fans was more riveting than the game itself.

Real Salt Lake played only a few known players and filled its game day roster with reserves.  Whitecaps coach Robbo fielded a weakened line up with Kekuta Manneh unplayable due to an ankle injury and Pedro Morales on the bench nursing his tender calves.  Morales would feature later on in the match.

It was mostly first team on defence, however, as Ousted guarded the net with Harvey, Parker, Waston and Smith in front of him.  Laba and Jacobsen played defensive midfield with Bolanos, Mezquida and Techera ahead of them.  On a happy note, Masato Kudo made his comeback from a dreadful jaw injury against the Chicago Fire a month or so ago as our lone striker.

Bolanos was our best player in the first half, and it was he who unlocked the RSL defence with a deft pass to Laba, who had made a rare well-timed foray into the offensive third of the pitch.  Laba brought the ball towards the goal line and crossed a vicious low cross in front of RSL’s net.  Two RSL defenders fought Kudo and Techera for the ball. One of the RSL defenders got to the ball first, but kicked the ball off of his own man into the net.  It was 1-0 with an own goal.  It just served to prove how goals come from putting opposing defenders under intense pressure.

Bolanos was also involved in the second goal when an RSL defender cleared the ball out of his own end with a poor effort that Bolanos brought down into the path of a Charging Techera who lashed the ball on the half volley from 30 yards towards RSL’s goal.  RSL keeper Antinella moved towards the ball but could not stop it from crashing into the top corner of the net.  Techera’s goal was a sumptuous feast in what was a match starved of flair.  It was one of the finest goals we have seen at BC Place since another little fellow called Camilo played there.

It was 2-0 at the half and a poor RSL team looked hardly capable of coming back.  They had some good opportunities in the first half but skied their efforts over the bar.  Ousted had to make a point blank save which looked more impressive than it was.  The header was weak and Ousted hammed it up a bit, which some goalkeepers tend to do!

A prominent pair of fellows called Morales (Pedro and Javier) made appearances for their respective teams but too late to really get going.

We got a look at new signing Marcel de Jong, a Canadian international who came to us from Ottawa FC of the NASL.  Robbo played him on the left side of midfield. De Jong’s touch and fitness were way off, which was a bit of a disappointment.  He clearly needs to work on his fitness and mental alertness. He gave the ball away in our own defensive third in an embarrassing way, and even De Jong himself could be seen wincing at how bad it was.  The Whitecaps fitness coaches have some real work to do with him.

The Whitecaps did their best to chuck the win away again by retreating into a defensive shell, but luckily RSL rang a late effort off of the crossbar and Ousted was able to enjoy a clean sheet for the first time in a while.

Perhaps MLS should revisit these mid-week games, which are almost always inferior to those played on the weekends.  With the restrictive salary cap MLS limits its teams to, squad players are not really worth watching when starters are rested.

Whitecaps romp over RSL “B” team

August 9, 2015 at 10:57 pm | Posted in Whitecaps season 2015 | 2 Comments
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Major League Soccer fans could not be faulted for scratching their heads and wondering why their teams are fielding such bad teams for matches. The answer is fixture congestion; too any games in too many competitions.

In mid-week the Whitecaps played their first ever CONCACAF Champions League game with a B side against Seattle’s B side. No doubt this was by arrangement between the teams, who both agreed to rest their best eleven for this weekend’s MLS games.

Real Salt Lake tried something different, playing their best players in their CONCACAF Champions League in Guatemala last Wednesday. RSL also play in the US Open Cup Semi final mid-week which they are determined to win.

RSL “B”were embarrassed by the Whitecaps A team, who gladly played against a team missing such MLS stars as Nick Rimando, Kyle Beckerman and Javier Morales.

Carl Robinson started Ousted in goal, with his best back four of Harvey, Waston, Kah and Beitashour. Koffee and Laba played midfield destroyers behind a diamond consisting of Mezquida, Manneh, Techera and Riveiro.

Whereas MLS officiating has tended to go against the Whitecaps in the past, everything seems to be going our way nowadays, and we were gifted a mysterious penalty in the 6th minute. Rivero took a stumble and ended up on the turf nowhere hear the ball when the Whitecaps hit a high cross into the box and, tweet, referee Chris Penso was pointing to the spot.

It was one of those calls that makes you realize the MLS still has a long way to go in terms of quality officiating. No wonder RSL’s coach was sent off after flying into a rage soon after. If I was an RSL fan I would be pretty disgusted, but I am not, so I eagerly awaited the penalty kick with the rest of Vancouver. We hardly needed the favour on this night, but thank you Mr. Penso.

Rivero dispatched the penalty kick easily it was 1-0.

The game hunkered down into a kind of physical struggle with not a lot of flowing football from either team but Kekuta Manneh in particular looked very lively, got a lot of the ball, and looked primed to do some damage. The little Gambian is not a good passer of the ball but on this night he attacked RSL’s defence on the right rather than his usual left and he hit a low cross to the far post for Goal King Kah to tap in for his third in two matches.

It was great to see Pa Modou Kah score another goal; he just seems to be scoring goals for the fun of it right now. We all had a great laugh about it in the stands and it was turning into one of those carnival atmosphere matches. RSL had been broken and the chances of them recovering looked very poor indeed.

In the second half Jordan Harvey shone and looked full of vim and vigour. It was only matter of time before the Whitecaps scored again, and Mezquida found Harvey streaking down the left flank and hit him with a perfectly weighted pass. RSL defenders had failed to pick up Harvey’s run and the left back curled a teasing ball in front of RSL’s net. Rivero stretched for it and missed it, but Techera was alone at the far post to side foot the ball into the net to make it 3-0 after only 50 minutes.

Any thought the Whitecaps would just lock up the shop and defend were brought to an end when Mezquida gave way to Pedro Morales. Morales looked the best we have seen him since his calf injury, and he delighted the crowd with some beautiful passes and creative plays.

Techera’s second goal came from a clearance resulting from a Morales free kick. An RSL defender struggled to cope with Morales’ hard swerving cross and coughed up the ball to the top of the box to a waiting Techera. Etcher took advantage of the ample time he had and smashed the ball low to RSL keeper Jeff Antinella’s left side into the net. It was 4-0 Whitecaps and we all wondered if the Whitecaps had ever won a game by such a margin before.

Teibert and Mattocks came on as substitutes but made no real impact on this game. The Whitecaps saw out the rest of the match easily and lapped up the appreciation of a happy crowd.

Even though I am happy we won 4-0 I feel disappointed we missed the opportunity to see some top MLS footballers because RSL played a B team.

With teams vying for the US Open Cup, the Canadian Championship, the CONCACAF Champions League and the MLS Supporter’s Shield, fixture congestion has caught up with MLS in a big way.

With such small squads and such low payrolls, MLS teams are ill equipped to deal with so many matches. It is the fans who suffer and watch inferior football.

Even though I am a football fanatic and enjoy watching almost anything on a soccer pitch, I can’t help but feel a bit cheated by it all having watched two matches in a row with teams playing inferior squads.

More MLS growing pains, and one hopes MLS Commissioner Don Garber is thinking hard about a solution to this problem.

Mistakes cost Whitecaps dearly against United

April 26, 2015 at 6:17 pm | Posted in Whitecaps season 2015 | 1 Comment
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Last night’s Major League Soccer match at BC Place saw two hot teams line up against each other. The league leading Vancouver Whitecaps hosted DC United, who had won their last four matches.

The Whitecaps started with Ousted in goal, Beitashour at right back, Kah and Waston in the centre and Adekugbe at left back. Laba and Teibert played defensive midfield, and Mattocks, Morales and Rosales lined up behind lone striker Rivero.

“Oh, the agony!” The ‘Caps lost 2-1.

The Whitecaps put pressure on early as a lively Steven Beitashour found Octavio Rivero on the right side of the pitch. There was a hint of offside, but the linesman’s flag stayed down. Rivero shaped up to shoot, but tricked everyone by crossing the ball to an unmarked Pedro Morales to the left of goal. The Maestro took the ball down with his chest and hit a solid volley past DC keeper Dykstra into the far corner of the net. Morales, who has had it a bit tough recently in front of goal, ripped his shirt off and celebrated wildly. Referee Dave Gantar showed him a yellow for his transgression of that silly FIFA rule. After just barely a minute, it was 1-0 Whitecaps.

United replied soon after when they got a throw-in deep in Whitecaps territory. Russell Teibert was caught looking the wrong way and the thrower threw the ball to Farfan, whom Teibert was supposed to be marking. Farfan got the ball alone under no pressure and had lots of time to fire the perfect cross to the towering Boswell who easily outmuscled the smaller Adekugbe to nod the ball into Ousted’s goal.

Morales makes it a quick 1-0

Morales makes it a quick 1-0

Mathias Laba saw yellow early after breaking up a DC United counter attack when the ball struck his arm. Laba had his arm by his side and did not know anything about it. Laba was sent off just eight minutes after his first yellow when he clipped the heel of counter attacking DC United striker Espindola. Having given Laba the silly and unwarranted yellow earlier, referee Gantar had to send Laba off after only 41 minutes. Gaunter was booed like no other official has ever been at BC Place for the rest of the night. Unfortunately Gantar made the play which was the key play in the match; the Whitecaps lost a key player and did not recover. The Whitecaps managed to get into the dressing room at 1-1 and the mood at BC Place was ugly.

In the second half it was hard to see the Whitecaps were down to 10 men as they enjoyed a decent amount of possession and still looked dangerous going forward. Ousted made two outstanding saves in quick succession early in the half which brought grateful applause from the Whitecaps faithful. It looked as though Ousted was in the mood. A rocket shot from United’s Rolfe in the 64th minute burst Ousted’s bubble, however. Rolfe had swerved past Teibert in midfield, passed the ball to his left, and smashed home a bouncing ball which fortunately came to him after Beitashour’s tackle.

Russell Teibert was the goat again; he let Rolfe run past him and missed the opportunity to foul Rolfe instead of letting him run by. While it would have put more pressure on the Whitecaps with another yellow card, it would have stopped a goal.

Nice move, Rosie! He hit the post...

Nice move, Rosie! He hit the post…

To the Whitecaps credit, they pressed forward to get an equalizer and came agonizingly close to tying up the match. Rosales hit the post, Morales had a close range shot blocked from the rebound, Rivero shot wide from close range, Adekugbe fluffed a close range effort, and even Ousted came up on corner kicks to try to score. It was terrific entertainment, but the Whitecaps could not get any luck on this night and it all ended with a whimper rather than a bang.

Carl Robinson used all of his subs, but with mixed results. Koffee replaced Mattocks soon after half time, and performed the best of the substitutes. Manneh, who came in for Teibert after 70 minutes, performed poorly, passing the ball time and time again to DC United rather than to his teammates. The worst move was when Robinson took Rosales out for Christian “the Bug” Techera in the 76th. Techera has only been with the team for a week and looked understandably lost in it all. He only had two or three touches on the ball. This was not the match to bring him in; surely Mezquida was the man. Mezquida knows his teammates and how they play; poor Techera looked like the stranger he is. It was perhaps the worst call Robinson has made all season.

It was night of mistakes which caused the Whitecaps to drop all three points at home. Still we can’t complain; we sit on top of the MLS standings by two points.

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