All good things come to an end and for the Vancouver Whitecaps that is the unbeaten streak of eight games.
With the 3-1 loss in Portland, the streak came to a disappointing and abrupt end. This loss feels deflating.
The Whitecaps did not have a good start. Instead of coming out firing on all cylinders, they were firing on their own cylinders. If that makes sense for you, good. If that doesn’t, I don’t care.
Andrés Cubas in particular did not look like himself in the first half. It is like he got his powers stolen by aliens. Cubas gave the ball away and there was very poor defending that led to the opening goal.
Ranko Veselinović and Tristan Blackmon have been solid in the back line for the Whitecaps so far this season. In this half, they looked very shaky. On the second goal, Veselinović and Blackmon were hypnotized (You could also say the same for every Whitecaps player) by the Timbers passing and Evander Ferreira easily beat Yohei Takaoka.
The two players that looked very dangerous in the first half were Ryan Gauld and Julian Gressel. Gressel in particular was creating plenty of chances. The Whitecaps got on the board thanks to Zack McGraw tipping in Gressel’s pass. That would not have happened without Gauld’s through ball, however. That was sick.
Sergio Córdova was making his first start since March 18 and he was doing a good job with his build-up play, aerials and poaching. However, he needed to be cleaner with his touches and headers as he had a couple of great chances. As it was his first game action since March 18 as he was out with a hamstring injury, Simon Becher came on for him at halftime.
The Whitecaps looked very frail defensively in the first half but they slowly settled down and showed a lot of promise with their possession and counterattack. But again, those opportunities need to be taken better.
The second half wasn’t much better.
Ferreira got his second goal of the game which was started by an excellent Portland counter. Usually, Cubas would make the tackle before Ferreira would take the shot but like many players in this game, he wasn’t very good.
Takaoka was also a second late reaching for the shot.
After that, it was all Timbers. The Whitecaps couldn’t get any high-danger scoring chances and the Timbers defence was rock solid. It was like the Whitecaps were playing Getting Over It but they kept falling after the first hurdle.
Overall, it was a very sloppy night by the Whitecaps. The passes were bad, the touches were pretty abysmal and it seemed nothing (well except the own goal) was working.
What was said.
Whitecaps head coach Vanni Sartini summed it up perfectly.
“We deserved to lose,” he said.
However, Sartini urged the team to bounce back quickly.
“We need to dust ourselves off and be very honest and critical,” he said. “Monday we will speak to each other and work to be better against Dallas…we know getting 3 points on the road is tough.”
Sartini also said they are unsure at the moment if Brian White will be ready to go for the game in Dallas. He also spoke about Córdova.
“He’s not 100%…his movement was good and he was attacking the space on the goal.” (The own goal.)
Gressel also spoke about the Whitecaps’ number nine.
“I don’t think we’ve seen the real Sergio yet,” he said. “Like you said, he has been out for some time and he didn’t even have a preseason.”
Gressel believes the Whitecaps’ poor start to the game ended up costing them.
“I thought we came out flat at the beginning, they came out with more energy than us,” he said.
Stat of the match
Ferriera was easily the man of the match. Not only did he score two goals but he had an 81% passing accuracy according to FotMob.
A goal is a goal
That own goal helped but it obviously wasn’t enough. The Whitecaps on the road in MLS this season have not scored more than one goal in all of them. That needs to change.
The Lukaku Special
Gauld, Vite and Córdova had terrible first touches. In fact, it felt like no Whitecaps player could control the ball at many points during the game. Perhaps they got Lukaku-itis. Or the ball was inflated a bit more in favour of the Timber. Or it was the Portland wind if there was one. Or…Ok, I’ll stop now.
You don’t know what you have until it’s gone
A White goal off the sensitive area would have been really beneficial.
Not a good show for the casuals
Once again, I don’t want to but I have to be the nerd emoji. While the Canadian Championship games aren’t as big as MLS, they do matter. Not only do the Whitecaps have a chance to win a trophy, but they also have a chance to enter the CONCACAF Champions League, where they can play among North America’s elite.
But it sucks for the casuals that the Whitecaps are only on TSN once a month. I should also note that Apple TV is making MLS Season Pass have a free trial for new users from now until October 31. Why didn’t they do this at the beginning of the season? We’ll never know.
That likely means the number of MLS Season Pass subscribers is nowhere near the target number. Moving to a paywalled streaming service, especially on a ten-year deal was always a risky move. It loses casual fans. For the Whitecaps, you could tell the Apple TV has hurt social media engagement and even the attendance numbers as the last two games have only drawn just over 14,000.
However, the Whitecaps getting to winning ways would also boost those numbers up.
As mentioned the Whitecaps play FC Dallas on Wednesday. Kickoff is at 5:30 pm Pacific.