Whitecaps hit new low with Shea Red Card

March 19, 2017 at 10:26 pm | Posted in Vancouver Whitecaps, Whitecaps season 2017 | 1 Comment
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Having to endure Major League Soccer season 2016 as a Vancouver Whitecaps season ticket holder was tough, but early indications have 2017 being worse. The Whitecaps have played three Major League Soccer games with only one point gained thus far via a boring 0-0 tie with Philadelphia on the first match day. In three games the Whitecaps have two goals and have conceded five. Now they have as many red cards as they have goals: new acquisition Brek Shea got him self sent off for dissent in the second half of Saturday’s 0-2 loss to Canadian rival Toronto FC .

Goalkeeper Spencer Richey got his first MLS start due to David Ousted’s suspension from his red card. Paulo Tornaghi was benched because of his less than convincing displays over two games in which he conceded five goals.

Richey’s defensive back line consisted of Harvey, Waston, Parker and Williams. Laba and Tiebert played defensive midfield with Davies, Shea and Mezquida playing ahead of them. Striker Freddy Montero was left alone up front all match.

It was a dreadful match to watch as a Whitecaps supporter. The Whitecaps were very flat and uninspired in the first half, and just as they were waking up from their slumbers in the second half, Shea said something stupid to referee Elfath and got a red card.

Very simply put, the Whitecaps have no midfield to speak of, and this is killing the team. In spite of playing a five man midfield, it was not uncommon to see Mathias Laba all by himself with the ball in midfield with the rest of the midfield players lining up like strikers. Neither Shea nor Davies bothered to go back and support Laba and Mezquida completely failed to act as any kind of midfield link.

The consequence was that Laba would have to pass the ball back to the defenders who would lob long balls over the top with the hope that some Whitecaps player would win the ball. It was pathetic to watch, and one wonders if coach Carl Robinson has no idea it is happening, (because it is plain to see), or if the players have just stopped listening to him. It was a sad display of technical incompetence.

Toronto easily soaked up this “pressure” from the Whitecaps. The only chance the Caps had was when striker Montero deflected a sloppy goalkeeper clearance, with the ball bouncing wide of the net.

At half time coach Robinson made a good move when he took out youngster Alfonso Davies, (who had his poorest match yet at the senior level), and put midfield mastermind Bolanos into the match. The Whitecaps were immediately better, and the switch clearly demonstrated that the Whitecaps need to get some talented and experienced midfielders on to the pitch if they are to go anywhere this year.

The Bolanos substitution was actually working and TFC were starting to look a bit uncomfortable on occasion. The Whitecaps were putting some real pressure on the men in red.

It all came for naught when Brek Shea first got a yellow card for hacking down a TFC player in what was a blatant foul. As he got the card he was talking to referee Elfath and caught his attention with something he said. He got another yellow and was sent off. With 20 minutes to go the Whitecaps were down to ten men.

It was an incredibly stupid thing for Shea to do. Shea has made a very poor impression with his blatant dive to try to get a penalty against Tigres earlier in the week, and now this.   Shea’s stupidity cost the Whitecaps all of the momentum they had gained due to the Bolanos effect. With Shea the Whitecaps appear to have picked up a guy with poor character and no discipline. Sadly, it looks like we have bought damaged goods.

Coach Robinson gambled and decided to try to win the match with speed, in spite of being 10 men down, by putting in Manneh and Hurtado on for Montero and Mezquida after 74 minutes. It was very risky, especially given Manneh’s dislike for defending. It seemed like a daring throw of the dice that just might work, but two minutes later TFC scored.

TFC winger Edwards crossed a long ball from the left side of the pitch to the far post to danger man Jozy Altidore. Left back Jordan Harvey did not bother to challenge for the ball and Altidore had plenty of time to pick out a target, and he did, nodding the ball to the charging Vazquez who easily headed home past Richey from close range.   Both Harvey and Parker simply looked on in admiration; both were guilty of ball watching.

Four minutes later in the 80th minute Jozy Altidore put the match beyond doubt when he received the ball at the top of the box and managed to easily turn Kendall Waston and fire the ball past a slumbering Parker into Richey’s net to make it 0-2. Like the first goal, Whitecaps defenders looked very static and responded slowly to what was happening.

Whitecaps fans voted with their feet at this time any many left the stadium. People who left cannot be blamed because the Whitecaps put on a terrible show that made me wonder for the first time since the team started in MLS if my money was well spent on a season ticket.

The Whitecaps actually had a good chance in injury time as Hurtato managed to wriggle free and charged with the ball towards the TFC goal. Inexplicably, he fired the ball high and wide from close range, not even making the keeper work at all. It just made those remaining in the stadium shake our heads in disbelief. It felt like insult had been added to injury.

A match that was poorly attended from the start was mercifully over. Fans are starting to stay home rather than come to see the poor soccer the Whitecaps are playing, and it looks like the Whitecaps, as a team and as an organization, are heading towards a crisis.

 

 

 

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Late, late error robs Whitecaps of Canadian Championship

July 1, 2016 at 7:20 pm | Posted in Vancouver Whitecaps, Vancouver Whitecaps 2016, Whitecaps Season 2016 | 1 Comment
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I had the feeling it was going to be a good match at BC Place on Wednesday night.  The Whitecaps were down 1-0 from the first leg in Toronto and needed to score goals.  My feeling was not wrong as we were treated to a thrilling match.

Coach Carl Robinson chose David Ousted in goal over Paulo Tornaghi, which turned out to be a fateful choice on the night.  Robinson started with a solid defensive line up with Parker, Waston, Jacobson and Harvey at the back with Laba and Teibert protecting them.  Pedro Morales returned to his number 10 role,  flanked by Manneh and Bolanos with Eric Hurtado up front.

Toronto FC had their Italian sensation Giovinco on the pitch so Robbo’s plan was to have the tireless Teibert working on containing him, which he did admirably.  Waston, who drew a yellow card when he bundled the diminutive Italian over, helped Teibert in the task.

Just before the half Hurtado fought through the middle of the TFC defence with Laba to create a shot for Laba.  TFC ‘s young Goalkeeper Bono made a fine save to keep the score level at halftime.

Despite their first half efforts, the Whitecaps had drawn a blank. Robinson took Teibert off for Mezquida, who took over the number ten role from Morales, who was shuffled back next to Laba. Robinson looked like a genius when Mezquida cushion-headed a high cross into the box from Harvey high into TFC’s net just after the start of the second half.  The Whitecaps celebrated and it was game on.

Twenty minutes later Laba returned a clearance from TFC’s penalty area back into the box where Parker took the ball on his chest and stroked the ball home beautifully.  It was fantastic technique from the American, and the Whitecaps were on their bike to the Canadian Championship, or so it seemed.

Alphonso Davies, who has been the revelation of this tournament for the Whitecaps, (and Canada?), was brought on for Manneh in the 67th minute.  He again showed great promise.  He had a few chances to score but could not convert.  Of all of the players we have seen come up from the Whitecaps development system, Davies is by far the most exciting and promising.

Whitecaps substitute Blas Perez rung one off the post late on and the Whitecaps were looking good on the counter attack for a third goal while TFC pressed for a tying goal which would see them champions with an away goal.

We were all on our feet chanting and singing for the coming victory when disaster struck.  Very late into the four minutes of injury time TFC had a throw in their own end.  The Whitecaps committed three men forward to try to keep it in TFC’s end, but the ball eventually squirted out to unmarked TFC sub Endow who had all of the time in the world to chip a last “Hail Mary” into the Whitecaps penalty area.  The ball drifted towards Waston and Jacobsen, with no TFC player really close enough to challenge them for the ball.

Incredibly, Ousted charged out of his net, clattered into Waston’s back and fumbled the ball directly to Canadian Wil Johnson, who fired a perfect volley into the roof of our net to make TFC Canadian Champions.  The whole of BC Place was silenced but for a pocket of twenty or so TFC fans.

To Ousted’s credit, he took full responsibility for his mistake after the match.  Had he stayed in his goal let his defenders do their job, we were Canadian champions and off to play in the CONCACAF Champions League next season.

It is hard to fault the big Dane because he played so well for the rest of the game.  He kept us in it with a stunning save earlier in the match, but his late, late, lapse in judgement was the deciding factor in the loss.

While it hurts to lose, it has to be recognized that this was a great football match for those who decided to attend (approximately 10,000 people were actually there).  In the short history of the Canadian Championship this was its most dramatic match.   For a low profile tournament, the Canadian Championship has proven to be great value for those who care to watch.

Word came out later that Johnson, who decided the tournament with his brilliant volley, had broken his leg on the play.  Johnson had broken his leg early last season, and now this.  It was a sad postscript to the match.  We can only wish Johnson, who has been great servant to Canada’s national team, a speedy recovery.

 

Baby Whitecaps make Vancouver proud in Toronto

May 7, 2014 at 9:14 pm | Posted in Vancouver Whitecaps, Whitecaps season 2014 | Leave a comment
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Names like Carducci, Alderson, Froese and Bustos have been mentioned on the Whitecaps website many times, but unless you are willing to do research and travel, and provided you don’t have a day job (Whitecaps reserves matches are always scheduled during working hours) you have probably never seen them play.

Tonight we got to see them play, and they did the club proud.  Although they made lots of young player errors, giving the ball up under pressure, making foolish passes, failing to make obvious passes, or coming out for crosses and not getting anywhere near them, the youngsters impressed and came away with a decent result.  

Considering they were playing against the likes of Michael Bradley and Jermaine Defoe, they did very well indeed.  They had a bit of help from the bench in the form of first teamers Fernandez and Manneh at the end of the match, but they did the lion’s share of the work themselves.

Manneh’s injury time goal pegged back TFC, whose designated players Bradley and Defoe each scored one, meaning we are in a very good position coming back home next Wednesday.

Manneh also got some blood into the match by starting up an injury time skirmish with TFC’s giant goalkeeper Bendik when he tried to retrieve the ball to get the game restarted.

In spite of the fact Bendik is about two feet taller than Manneh, Canada’s own Dwayne De Rosario felt he had to help him by creeping up behind Manneh and cold-cocking him.  De Rosario is looking more and more pathetic these days, being out of shape and overweight.  He is a sad shadow of his former self.  I can hardly wait to give him hell in Vancouver next week.

It remains to be seen whether Whitecaps coach Carl Robinson will reward his youngsters by starting them next week instead of first team players. Tonight’s performance and result left him with some very hard decisions to make.  

Sounders verses Toronto FC game like days of old NASL

March 17, 2014 at 9:06 pm | Posted in Vancouver Whitecaps, Vancouver Whitecaps In MLS, Whitecaps season 2014 | Leave a comment
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While we Whitecaps fans eagerly anticipated Sunday’s match against Chivas USA, there is no doubt what the big match was last weekend. It was Saturday’s clash between the Seattle Sounders and Toronto Football Club.  

The match was eagerly anticipated because of the star power involved.  It was Jermain Defoe and Michael Bradley’s first match for TFC; the first time the biggest signings of the MLS off-season appeared before the public on the pitch.  On the opposite side appeared Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins.  A crowd of 39,000 watched the match in Seattle’s massive stadium.  The match was available on both Canadian and American television on Saturday afternoon. 

The star power on the field, the TV coverage and the match day atmosphere reminded me of the old days of the North American Soccer League.  It was rather like watching the New York Cosmos playing the Tampa Bay Rowdies or the Vancouver Whitecaps at Giant’s Stadium back in the late 70s.  I kicked myself for not going down to Seattle and watching the historic match. 

Major League Soccer is making big strides, although watching the Whitecaps and Chivas play in front of 6000 in Los Angeles brought me back down to earth.  Lets see what the MLS can do in re-marketing their least successful team in the huge Los Angeles market.  I hope they bring the LA Aztecs back, but I am not holding my breath.

The star power did not disappoint: Defoe scored 2, Dempsey scored 1, and Bradley dominated the midfield.  Defoe’s class won the day, and watching him take two goals with breathtaking ease was well worth the time spent in front of the television.  

While some complain about the manner in which the likes of Dempsey and Defoe are hired by MLS and sent to hand-picked franchises, I am happy to look in the other direction.  I can hardly wait to see Defoe and Bradley in action in Vancouver.  I don’t care if they are on the other team provided I get to see them play. 

Back in the day the New York Cosmos were a stacked team favoured by the league, but a gritty team from the village of Vancouver beat them and went on to make Canadian sporting history by winning the Soccer Bowl. 

 

 

 

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