Photo Credit: Vancouver Whitecaps Twitter account
*This was originally posted March 12, 2022*
The Vancouver Whitecaps looked to get their first win and score their first goal of the season as they travelled to the home of NASA to take on the Houston Dynamo.
But Houston, we have a problem. The Whitecaps lost 2-1 to the Dynamo and are still winless in 2022.
Starting XI and Pregame notes
Photo Credit: Vancouver Whitecaps TwitterPedro Vite, who turned 20 on Wednesday makes his first MLS Start and Vanni Sartini has changed the formation to 3-4-2-1. Lucas Cavallini is the lone striker up front and Vite and Ryan Gauld are the two attackers up front. Cristian Dájome and Cristián Gutiérrez are on the wings with captain Russel Teibert and Leonard Owusu in the middle of the park.Brian White did get some minutes against New York City FC but he isn’t going to play due to tightness in his right calf. Erik Godoy and Caio Alexandre are still out with left calf and left foot injuries respectively. Vancouver and Houston last played on September 29, 2021. That was a 0-0 draw at PNC Stadium. These two teams will meet at BC Place on August 5.First Half ThoughtsThe Whitecaps got their first goal of the season! It was from Cavallini! Dájome was moved to the right side while Gutiérrez was moved to the left early. It looks like they both work better on those sides.Dájome made a perfect cross to Cavallini who was running in the box and he got a touch on the ball and it ended up in the back of the net. Cavallini was great and he was making some good runs, drawing fouls and was trying to get another goal. There was one incident where he was kicked in the face and yet there was no yellow card. Vite’s MLS debut ended after only 23 minutes and he was subbed off due to concussion protocol. It was Vite himself who initiated the substitution. Javain Brown came on for Vite and he got a yellow card for being slow on a throw-in.So it’s not a yellow card for kicking a guy in the face but it is a yellow for being slow on a throw-in. First questionable reffing in the Canucks game yesterday and now with the Whitecaps. The pain of Vancouver Sports! The Dynamo were like a rocket launching after Cavallini’s goal. They were dominating the possession and were quick to move the ball up the pitch. They got the game all squared at one when the Whitecaps lost track of Darwin Quintero and Corey Baird. Baird looked like he was offside but VAR didn’t think so. There was nothing Thomas Hasal could do about that as the defending was not good at all on that goal in front of him.The defending did look good other than that, particularly from Florian Jungwirth. He was winning aerial duels, making interceptions and making some smart tackles. Quintero was a thorn in the side for the Whitecaps as he was making crosses, showing some speed and almost got another but was denied by Hasal.Hasal, by the way, looked confident in goal and he was smart with grabbing the crosses. The Whitecaps showed a lot more attack in the first half than in the last two games but it seemed like Gauld looked quiet and the midfield still wasn’t doing a lot to start a good counter attack or build up. Both sides looked locked in defensively, there were good chances and it looked like this match could go either way.Second Half ThoughtsThe Dynamo continued to be dynamite and so did Quintero. He showed the Whitecaps why it was survival of the fittest.He scored an absolute banger just outside the box and there was nothing Thomas Hasal could do about that one. Not even prime Gianluigi Buffon or prime Petr Cech would have stopped that one. Quintero was just like Darth Vader in that hallway scene in Rogue One against the Whitecaps, impossible to stop.It felt like that second goal sucked the life out of the Whitecaps for the next 10 to 20 minutes. Houston continued to do well with the position and they looked quick and they made simple and short passes. They also were testing Hasal from distance and the Whitecaps gave away a bunch of free kicks close to the box. There was one free-kick from Thorleifur Úlfarsson that hit the bar. When the Whitecaps lost the ball, the Dynamo looked dangerous and thankfully Hasal, Blackmon, Vesilinovic and Jungwirth were there to prevent any more goals.Vancouver got some chances of their own with corner kicks. They had 10 corners in the match and it seemed like all of them were in the second half. The Whitecaps were close to tying the game on a corner when Cavallini’s header was cleared off the line by former Whitecaps Tim Parker. The best corner kicks were taken by Caicedo who also was good at winning corners and crossing the ball. The Whitecaps looked much better in the final 20 minutes with all those corner kicks.Gauld didn’t look like himself. He took one shot but it went wide and he wasn’t connecting his passes or looked like the dynamic player of last season. Maybe he is dealing with an injury we don’t know about?The midfield was letting the Dynamo get by them too easily and didn’t do enough to create scoring chances for the attackers. There was some improvement in the build-up but there needs to be more spark in the attack.What Was SaidSartini believed the Whitecaps deserved to win and he criticized the team’s pressure.“We lost and I think we didn’t deserve to lose, especially in the second half, we were the much better team,” said Sartini. “First half was very open. I think it was very good when we had the ball, our pressure wasn’t good.”I also asked him about an update on Pedro Vite.It turns out that Vite was feeling dizzy and was taken off as a precaution after the stadium doctor reviewed the play. Fortunately, Vite was feeling fine afterwards but Sartini didn’t want to risk things.”I am 100% with the doctor because I didn’t want anything to happen to our players,” he said.The Whitecaps coach also talked about the play of the midfield and the build-up.“I think it was OK,” said Sartini. “In the first half, we got some chances and scored a beautiful goal. In the second half, we kept losing the ball and it was kind of hard to move the ball forward because they had eight or nine guys in front of the box. Offensively, we needed to be better in the first half with the pressing.”Lucas Cavallini was satisfied with scoring his first of the season but he wanted the win more.”It didn’t mean a lot because we ended up losing and I think we deserved the 3 points,” said Cavallini.He also talked about the officiating.“A lot of disagreements with some calls there,” said the Canadian striker. “ It’s always tough with Canadian teams, I don’t know why. I think they dislike us. I mean whatever, it is, what it is. I’m not going to make any excuses.”“We felt when we came in here we had a chance at winning 3 points,” said Tristan Blackmon.He also talked about playing with Vesilinovic and Jungwirth.”I think as time goes on you are going to build these relationships even further,” said Blackmon.Sartini talked about the importance of picking points going forward.”To be honest, at the beginning of the season, I thought this was the game we could win,” said Sartini. “We know the season is long… we need to start making points. Miracles can’t happen every year.”Stat of the NightBlackmon had a 60% duel percentage which was most on the Whitecaps.Wrap UpThe Whitecaps did look better offensively and were solid defensively but there needs to be more in terms of pressure and build-up.Their next game is in the home movies, bad traffic and gangsta rap as they take on Max Crépeau, Doneil Henry and former coach Marc Dos Santos next Saturday. Kickoff is at 7:00 PM.