Tags: Brek Shea, Jozy Altidore, MLS, TFC, Toronto Football Club, Vancouver Whitecaps
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.
Tags: Canadian Championship, Kekuta Manneh, TFC, Toronto Football Club, Voyageurs Cup
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.
Tags: Jermain Defoe, major league soccer, Micheal Bradley, MLS, NASL, new york cosmos, Soccer Bowl, TFC, Toronto Football Club, Vancouver Whitecaps
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.