Vancouver Whitecaps are out of the Apple TV Cup…sorry, Leagues Cup.
They had a chance to move into the Round of 16 and the opponent they were facing was Tigres. They are one of the top teams in Mexico having won the Liga MX title eight times and the CONCACAF Champions League in 2020.
Vancouver had the chance to knock off a giant of CONCACAF as head coach Vanni Sartini called them on Thursday. They came close, in what was an entertaining game at BC Place.
What we learned
- Pedro Vite loves to score early. He’s done it three times this season. The first was in 15 seconds on May 31 against the Houston Dynamo. The second was on July 12 just 29 seconds into the game against Austin FC. The third wasn’t as early but it was nine minutes into Friday night’s game
- Oh yeah, it was an absolute banger. The build-up was just as good.
- This was one of, if not, the best game Ryan Raposo has played as a Whitecap. He was making good runs and passes and was solid defensively. That includes this goal-line-saving clearance
- Javain Brown had a shaky game. He kept getting skinned by the Tigres attack. He made it easy for André-Pierre Gignac to find space on the Tigres equalizer
- That goal was a banger as well. Cue Queen’s Bicycle Race.
- Possession was 60% to 40% in favour of Tigres. The Whitecaps did look dangerous on the counterattack and did do a good job of creating turnovers. However, they gave the ball away a bunch as well. Interceptions were 14 to nine in favour of Tigres.
- The penalty shootout didn’t go 19 rounds this time. I felt like whoever missed first would lose. That is what happened as Ranko Veselinović (who had a great game defensively) had his penalty stopped by Nahuel Guzmán. (Who’s antics before each penalty would make Emiliano Martinez proud.) It was a weak penalty but Guzmán almost dived the wrong way
- The Whitecaps are now 0-3 against Tigres in their MLS history having lost both legs of the 2017 CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals to them.
What was said
Unlike the game against the LA Galaxy, Sartini felt like his team deserved to win.
“We didn’t go toe-to-toe today — we deserved to win,” he said. “I think we were much better than them…Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough quality in the final third in a lot of potential chances to score the second goal. But we showed that we had a very good team, we played much better than them. We deserve to win. It’s a steal. (For Tigres.)”
Stat of the night
Alessandro Schöpf had a solid game on both ends of the pitch. He had a 92% accurate passing rate.
Folks, this team is good
The fact that the Whitecaps took two Mexican giants to penalties is nothing to be ashamed about. It shows that they can battle against any team in the region.
I mean, the miming worked. If Tigres lost, the memes about Guzmán would have been gold.
The whipping boy comes on again
I believe this is the first time in months that the Whitecaps did not concede a goal with Russell Teibert on the pitch. (I could be wrong though. This might be the first time all season)
Beating a dead horse
Attendance for the game was 13,713 according to AFTN. Most of those were Tigres fans, let’s be real. Despite the on-field product being really good, attendance is still an issue for the Whitecaps. Sure signing two Canadian internationals help but more still needs to be done. Just ask the BC Lions, they market their games as events. Vancouver is more of an event town than a sports town after all.
Also, the Apple TV deal and the 7:30 starts don’t help.
With the Whitecaps out of the Leagues Cup, they do not play until August 20. That game is at BC Place against the San Jose Earthquakes as MLS play resumes.
The round of 32 exit could be a blessing in disguise for the Whitecaps. They have two weeks off and that is a lot of time to prepare for 12 games in two months. Oh yeah, seven straight will be on the road which has been the Achilles heel for the Whitecaps over the past two seasons.
The next two months will be a big test. Top four in the Western Conference is up for grabs. With the squad they have, especially with the signs of Sam Adekugbe and Richie Laryea, there is no reason not to finish in the top four of the west. Will the two-week break really be a blessing in disguise? The Whitecaps better prove to everyone that it will be.