The Vancouver Whitecaps were coming off a big win over York United on Wednesday and were back in MLS action. On this very warm summer day, New England Revolution are in town. New England was tied for seventh in the MLS Eastern Conference and had not lost since April 23 against DC United and were 4-4 in their last eight. The Revolution were the Supporters Shield Winners of last season.
It was another big test for the Whitecaps as they looked to continue their good run of form and push for the playoffs.
Starting XI thoughts
The first thing to notice is a rare start for Leonard Owusu and a rare non-start for Russell Teibert. All three Designated Players were starting. They are Lucas Cavallini, Andres Cubas and Brian White.
White had a brace in the last game against York and was on the bench. Head coach Vanni Sartini decided to go with the lone striker upfront and that was the in-form Cavallini. Don’t be surprised to see White come off the bench later in the game. Cavallini deserved to start. He had a quiet game against York but in MLS play, he has looked solid.
It was interesting to see Tristan Blackmon at left centre back. He spent most of his time on the right side before his injury but he has also played at left centre back most recently in the last MLS game in Dallas.
Marcus Godinho has had a good last month and it was good to see him start on the right wing-back side. Deiber Caicedo scored a banger free kick in Dallas and let’s see if he can provide some more offence.
Cody Cropper played 36 games for the Revolution from 2016 to 2019 so he was facing his old team.
It was basically the same lineup from the game against FC Dallas except that Owusu and Ryan Gauld were in for Teibert and Cristian Dájome instead. It looked like Sartini liked what he saw from the game against Dallas and wanted to go with the same formation just to see if it can work again.
With Owusu and Cubas in the midfield, you got two very defensive-minded midfielders behind two number 10s, the midfield isn’t as congested and it takes the pressure off the three defenders. Gauld and Caicedo as number 10s hope to provide some creative balls for Cavallini who was wearing the captain’s armband.
In Dallas, the 3-4-1-2 didn’t have much possession but made a lot of things happen when they did have possession and hopefully we’ll see the same against New England.
First half thoughts
Godinho looked pretty quick and was making moves early into the game. There was some very good and very quick passing from the Whitecaps.
Cubas was making an impact early. He was fighting for the ball and made a good interception after the Whitecaps gave away a poor one just a few seconds before. His passing was also very accurate.
The Whitecaps looked quick on the transitions. But the passes were a yard too quick. It was nice to see the speed from Gauld.
In the 17th minute, it looked like Caicedo hurt his hamstring as he was helped off by the trainers. He looked like he was in a lot of pain coming off. Dájome came on and it looked like he was playing as a second number nine instead of a number 10. Well, it was better than him playing at wingback as he can showcase his offensive skills more.
The passes in the final third needed to be improved. They were either too short or too long. In the 27th minute, neither keepers were tested.
New England looked certain to score in the 33rd minute as they had control in the box. But Godinho was the hero as he made a big block. Other than that, the Whitecaps were doing a good job of preventing the Revolution from breaking into the final third.
Dájome was making an impact. He made a low shot on Djordje Petrovic for the first shot on net for either team. He also made a very good stretch pass to Cavallini but Dájome couldn’t receive it. Dájome’s passing is what makes him effective and so far he has been noticeable coming off the bench.
Blackmon and Brown were doing well with interceptions and their tackling. For Brown, he didn’t look as lost as he did early in the season.
Overall, it was a meh half. There were not much chances from both ends. For the Whitecaps, the midfield and defence did well. The passing was either great or poor.
Second half thoughts
It was safe to say Ryan Raposo wasn’t having a good game. That was a shame because before this game he has been solid. His passes and crosses were all over the place.
Owusu tried to make something happen as he took a shot from outside the box but Petrovic dove for it and made the catch. He and Cubas were doing well in the midfield.
After Owusu’s shot, New England got their best chance of the match with a Dylan Borrero shot that was outside the box and hit the crossbar.
They were not done there. On the transition, Arnor Traustason managed to get a shot off but was denied by Cropper. Things were starting to heat up.
Gauld and Cavallini never really clicked. Gauld’s passes never seem to have found Cavallini.
Cubas displayed his stellar passing ability as he found Dájome but he was stopped by Petrovic. Godinho made a good interception and tried a shot on Petrovic.
We got a game. Both teams were turning it on. Now, this was more like it. The Whitecaps were starting to pressure the most.
But again, there was some good passing but the final passes in the box were either too long or too short. The final touch was hurting Vancouver.
The Whitecaps managed to weather the Revolution storm a bit. Ranko Veselinovic in particular was doing a good job with the blocks and clearances. That’s what he does. He is quiet but effective.
The Whitecaps continued to get chances when White decided to pass it to Cavallini. He couldn’t get a good shot off and tried to leave it for the subbed on Teibert but the longtime ‘Cap couldn’t get anything on. Big sigh.
It didn’t help that Petrovic was on his game. The New England keeper made some big saves off White and Cavallini.
In the end, the Whitecaps did a lot of things right but there was no finish. Sounds like another football club I know. Vancouver wanted the three points but it looked like New England want the 0-0 draw. Not a bad result but it was disappointing.
What was said
Sartini was relatively happy with the point.
“We were the best team on the field, we got lots of chances” he said. “I think it’s a game where we can be frustrated…I’m happy and proud with the way we performed. There are more positives than negatives. The negatives were the five clear chances…if we want to reach the playoffs we need to win games where we are the better team.”
Sartini was asked if there was any player who did not have a good game.
“It’s hard for me to tell who didn’t play well,” Sartini said.
Javain Brown talked about improving his game.
“I’m still learning…I am taking in what they (the coaches) tell me and keep trying to improve,” said Brown.
Cropper talked about his team’s performance.
“I thought we were very good defensively and got some good chances…overall we executed our gameplan and in my opinion you don’t lose if you don’t concede.”
The goalkeeper was asked about shutting out his former club.
“Absolutely,” he said.
Stat of the night
We got a tie in goals and we also got a tie in expected goals at 1.2 for both teams.
Tweet of the night
Now that we are on WordPress we can embed Tweets. We will feature a Tweet that was funny or interesting.
This security must be triggered by some of the chants.
The Whitecaps have another big test coming on. Saturday is when LAFC comes to town. They are the best team in MLS and kickoff is at 7:00 p.m.