The Vancouver Whitecaps knew playing the Houston Dynamo in Houston was going to be a tough test. It was and they unfortunately failed it.
Forget “Houston, we have a problem”, it’s “Houston, gave us a problem” or something. The Whitecaps crashed harder than the USS Enterprise D on Veridian III.
Yeah, it was a performance to forget. Vancouver has only won in Houston once since coming into MLS in 2011 and that was in 2018. It is not a kind place to them.
What we learned
- After three wins and a draw to start the road trip, you knew fatigue would play a factor in this game. It clearly did. Every single player that started was off their game. Ryan Gauld wasn’t as effective as he usually is for example.
- Brian White looked very isolated in this game. According to JJ Adams of The Province, White only had nine touches.
- Andres Cubas returned to the lineup but you could tell he wasn’t 100%. He wasn’t winning the ball as much as he usually does
- The attack looked very lacklustre. There weren’t many, (or any) high-danger chances (well, except for Pedro Vite’s long-range one-timed shot late in the first half) in the game. It was constant crossing and not much else. The Dynamo before the game have given up the fourth least goals in MLS. You could see why, they are very organized and compact defensively and waste no time clearing the ball
- Speaking of defending, the Whitecaps backline looked poor, which again, fatigue played a factor. But on the second goal scored by Griffin Dorsey, Tristan Blackmon failed to take him on and realized it was too late. He and the other defenders stood around like statues. Fatigue was a factor but of course, that can’t be an excuse for goals against like this one.
- I’ve ranted a lot about how poor MLS officiating is but it seems like it gets worse every game. I have no idea how Corey Baird didn’t get sent off for this tackle on Ali Ahmed. VAR didn’t even look at it, which is even more insane.
- On a positive note, it was nice to see Junior Hoilett make his Whitecaps debut. It will take him time to get settled in but in the few minutes he played, I thought he looked alright.
- At least Vancouver broke Houston’s shutout. The broadcast thought it was Sebastian Berhalter’s goal but it went off Dynamo defender Erik Sviatenchko. Own Goal was the man of the match for the Whitecaps.
Stat of the match
Baird assisted on Dorsey’s goal. That is four goals and two assists in his last six games and that includes Wednesday night.
What was said
Whitecaps head coach Vanni Sartini was rightfully disappointed with his team’s performance but is ready to turn the page.
“We had a really bad game in terms of in terms of moving offensively,” he said after the game. “If we want to take out a good thing from this game, it’s a good wake-up call. We’ve been in a kind of heaven for the last few weeks. Winning away, and before winning away, we won the game at BC Place and we did a very good Leagues Cup. So we were on a ‘quote-unquote’ roll. It’s good to understand that if we are not the best version of ourselves, it’s hard to make points”
“I think we came out a little too chill,” said Ahmed. “It showed we were sloppy on our first two touches…Houston made us pay…I still think we didn’t come out with the energy in the last few games.”
This was the second leg…if only
Can’t believe the Whitecaps got the winning goal on an own goal. But too bad, Wednesday’s game wasn’t the second leg.
Crossing and vibes
The crossing was excessive from the Whitecaps. Sure, it has worked many times this season but it wasn’t this season. Sometimes, you just have to shoot. Maybe Frank Lampard was disguised as Sartini on the touchline. If that’s the case, where is the real Sartini?
Caution: Wet floor…or wet pitch
Guess Quinenos and Artur wanted to show off their dance moves. Maybe they had Bodies by Drowning Pool stuck in their heads. Save it for the nightclub, not the soccer pitch. In all seriousness, the Dynamo were dropping like flies throughout the match.
I’m having flashbacks
It also felt like a game from early 2022 or almost every road game from 2022. Once the Whitecaps were down, it was tough for them to get back into the game. They’ve shown resilience throughout this season but it wasn’t there in Houston.
I’m also glad I didn’t start covering the Whitecaps during the Marc Dos Santos era. Those were painful years and I can’t imagine writing about them during those times. But when a sports team is bad, it tests a sports journalist’s skills.
At the time of this writing, the Whitecaps fall to fifth place and still have 41 points. The Dynamo moved up to fourth with 43 points which are two ahead of Vancouver. The ‘Caps are three points behind third-place LAFC and four behind second-place Seattle Sounders. Remember the Whitecaps have at least one game in hand on the teams around them.
The Whitecaps need to use those games in hand to their advantage and start collecting more points. Up next is Real Salt Lake on Saturday. Kickoff is at 6:30 p.m. Pacific.