The Vancouver Whitecaps had a big opportunity at home to get an advantage over LAFC heading into the second leg. They started decently but their sloppy mistakes ended up costing them and they need a big Remontada in the second leg on Tuesday.
Starting XI and thoughts
Well, this was interesting. The Whitecaps were not starting the golden boys from the last match against CF Montreal. Simon Becher and Ali Ahmed were on the bench. Cristian Dajomé and Russell Teibert win in the lineup.
I get this is a mid-week game and there is a rival coming to town on Saturday and resting two guys who played 90 minutes on Saturday is understandable. But this is the CONCACAF Champions League and the Whitecaps are facing the LAFC, the defending MLS Cup Champions. It is better to ride the guys who have been on a hot streak.
Dajomé has been cold to start the season. In the games he has played, his passes have been off and he isn’t creating anything offensively. Pedro Vite would have been a better option.
Teibert was making his first start of the season much to the chagrin of many Whitecaps fans online. Sebastian Berhalter would have been a better option because he knows how to make accurate progressive passes and is fine defensively. Berhalter hasn’t played much this season but he has been solid in a small sample size.
Brian White was starting up top. Perhaps head coach Vanni Sartini thought White needed to build off getting his first MLS goal and feels White has a goal in him. White also scored in both legs in the round of 16 against Real España. He needs to take that build-up play and turn his expected goals into goals when he is the main guy up top. White is having a fine season, he just needs more to go into the net.
The back line is pretty much what I expected and so are Andrés Cubas and Julian Gressel in the midfield.
First half thoughts
For the first ten minutes of the game, the Whitecaps had a hard time with their passing. There were some careless giveaways and LAFC tried to keep the ball from them as much as possible.
However, there were some good blocks and clearances and even Ryan Gauld did a good job tracking back in the ninth minute.
It was Gauld who got the Whitecaps’ best chance of the game in the 12th minute. His shot just went off Joe McCarthy’s fingertips and out for a corner. Gauld was once again the engine of the team. He was doing everything, everywhere all at once.
You could also say the same thing about Cubas because he was still his usual self. He was also winning some fouls. The Paraguayan international was doing a good job of isolating Carlos Vela and Denis Boulanga
The Whitecaps started to settle into the game but still kept missing the net. Somehow, while faceplanting Aaron Long blocked Javain Brown’s shot with his feet. That’s something you don’t see every day.
Boulanga managed to sneak around the Whitecaps’ defence to receive Vela’s pass for LAFC’s best chance on goal to that point but he couldn’t get a good touch on it. Gotta be quicker than that!
Javain Brown was also impressed. He has looked very calm defensively by making quick clearances and reading LAFC’s offence very well.
Overall, it was a good half by the Whitecaps. They were doing a good job of closing down on LAFC and preventing them from getting any scoring chances but they needed to be cleaner with the passes…and the finishing. More shots were needed. It felt like both teams were playing it safe.
Second half thoughts
Gauld found White in the box but his header went high and wide. Take Radiohead’s High and Dry but just change the lyrics to “Don’t shoot it high, don’t shoot it wide.”
But LAFC got the goal. Bouanga shot it from distance and Yohei Takaoka couldn’t get a hand on it. Takaoka was caught off guard and probably should have done better there.
Not long after LAFC had another one. Bouanga managed to steal the ball from Cubas and Takaoka was caught swimming off his line and there was some messy defending. Opoku Kwadwo made them pay. The Whitecaps were in a huge hole in the tie.
Soon after Becher and Ahmed were brought on for Dajome and Teibert. Too little, too late? Yeah.
LAFC was not done yet and neither was Bouanga as he managed to outsmart the Whitecaps defenders and beat Takaoka. The hole was even bigger for the Whitecaps and already too deep to climb out of.
The Whitecaps were trying to climb out of the hole but once again, they were not clinical enough. It also didn’t help that LAFC looked dangerous with the ball and was not sitting back by any means.
It could have been more but Takaoka managed to grab onto the ball on Sergi Palencia’s breakaway, Right now, the Whitecaps were just putting Flex Tape on a leaking water tank.
That was that. The Whitecaps were going to LA down a large margin. They just fell apart in the second half and couldn’t recover. LAFC simply outclassed them.
What was said
Sartini thought the Whitecaps were doing well in the first half and the early moments of the second half.
“This idea was to be very organized and not concede anything and attack them on the counter,” he said. “Second half we started very well then Bouanga scored a banger and then we conceded the second goal and were very cowardly after that.”
He also was asked about why Becher and Ahmed were on the bench to start the game. He said they played 90 minutes last Saturday. Sartini said he wanted guys that could contain LAFC and wanted the young players (Vite included ) to play 30 minutes when the game was wide open.
Sartini also mentioned that since the game was starting at 7 PM and not 7:45 PM, Ahmed couldn’t eat before the game due to his fasting for Ramadan.
Stat of the night
That goes to Denis Boulanga who had two goals and three assists. He was cooking.
Best stats don’t lie
Sartini, Sporting Director and CEO Axel Schuster, as well as the players, talked about wanting a better start than last season. Two wins out of their first nine in all competitions is not ideal.
*Insert Roblox oof sound effect here*
Best under pressure
No, I don’t Sartini gets the boot tomorrow but he is under pressure. I wouldn’t be surprised if Schuster has replacement head coaches lined up. If the Whitecaps lose against Portland on Saturday, then Sartini’s seat will be turned up to molten lava hot.
Best Let’s Be Nice, You’re Not Wrong But You Didn’t Have To Say It
I’ll let you figure out who Anna is talking about here.
Best There Is No Passion, There Is No Vision, There Is No Aggression
Good thing Angry Rantman also isn’t a Whitecaps fan because he might have had an aneurysm by now.
Best Inarticulate Italian Noises
Sartini getting a jersey after the way the Whitecaps performed is something. But the real question is this club that cursed that coaches are getting injured now?
The Whitecaps need to get back on track quickly because Cascadia Rivals Portland Timbers come to town. Kickoff for that one is at 7:30 PM.