Despite dominating possession, the Caps could only play out a 0-0 draw with the Colorado Rapids on Saturday night at BC Place.
Yohei Takaoka had to take matters into his own hands to preserve his MLS-leading shutout streak, denying Diego Rubio from the penalty spot to ensure Vancouver escaped with a draw in a match they had the better of the attacking chances.
The Caps went with what is likely their first-choice lineup at the moment, though it meant ending the Brian White as attacking midfielder experiment. The usual backline was trotted out and Ali Ahmed retained his place in midfield over Alessandro Schopf. Pedro Vite returned to the starting lineup alongside Ryan Gauld, white White up top.
Our 𝙎𝙏𝘼𝙍𝙏𝙄𝙉𝙂 𝙓𝙄 vs @coloradorapids 🏔
— Vancouver Whitecaps FC (@WhitecapsFC) April 30, 2023
The Caps controlled possession early in the match, dictating play but also leaving themselves susceptible to the Rapids’ counters. Michael Berrios showed his dangerous pace to get the ball forward and into the box and it fell to Max, who thought he had time to shoot but instead Tristan Blackmon made an excellent sliding challenge to deny the chance.
Almost immediately on the other end, White was narrowly denied an opener. The striker’s season has been defined by not putting away big chances but this was down to an excellent save from William Yarborough, who pushed White’s well struck shot off the crossbar.
That was the most substantive chance of the first half for the Caps, with the Rapids keeping their shape well to limit their options. The Caps saw plenty of the ball, even bringing Blackmon into the midfield to increase their numbers in possession, but some poor play from wide areas and timidity to fully attack the box limited Vancouver’s effectiveness.
The Rapids opted to bring on Caps nemesis Jonathan Lewis but it was Javain Brown who nearly tallied, just seconds into the second half, after a nice one-two with Vite let Brown find space to carry the ball into the box. His shot was at Yarborough, who saved, and Brown also whiffed on a free header a few minutes later off a corner.
Yarborough kept putting in a master class, first to bravely deny Ahmed, who darted towards goal off a feed from Gauld, and then Luis Martins, who had a rocket from range palmed over the bar off a broken corner kick.
Out of nothing, disaster struck for Javain Brown and the Caps. That nemesis, Lewis, beat Brown off a long ball and Brown kept his hands on him and the winger went over. It was a silly move from Brown and, while it was a bit of a soft call, was a huge let off from Brown.
Fortunately the brick wall of Yohei Takaoka read the Diego Rubio penalty perfectly and sprung to his left to deny the PK and clutched it to prevent a rebound. On a night when the keeper was asked to do relatively little, he stepped up when called upon.
— The Third Sub (@The3rdSub) April 30, 2023
Both the Rapids and Caps had flashes of chances as the match wound down but the missed penalty was the final real flourish for either side.
- Ali Ahmed was a ball winning machine, leading the team with 3 tackles and they all came at key moments, either to snuff out a Rapids counter or to keep a Caps attacking move alive. He had his share of giveaways but was perhaps the most effective player, particularly when the usual switches of play weren’t working. The threat of his pace will open up space for other runners as well, notably Martins. It is no wonder he has yet to relinquish his place in the starting XI.
- To that end, the bizarre decision to sub off Ahmed in favor of Simon Becher basically killed the momentum the Caps were building towards. Before that move it seemed there was a sense of inevitability about a goal. Afterwards, the wind went out of Vancouver’s sails (the penalty didn’t help either). Was a decision that really seemed to change the match.
- Javain Brown has a habit of turning in an absolutely indispensable match offensively or getting nothing right. For all the space the Rapids were giving on the wings, good service was often left wanting and Brown doesn’t seem to thrive in these types of matches, where there is ample time but lots of men to beat in the box. The defensive error in the box that gave away the penalty will make it a match to forget for Brown on both sides of the pitch.
- This is a frustrating one because it felt like the Caps were comfortably the better team but the Rapids did exactly what they wanted to do to shut things down. Still, they were forced to rely on some nice work from Yarborough and, quite frankly, there was a bit of bad luck in this one. This didn’t have the feel of 0-0 draws in past seasons where the Caps could spend hours out there and never score. The departure of Ahmed and the penalty killed the vibe but before then, I was pretty convinced they were going to find a goal.
- That being said, this is not a team that is well built to unpick a locked defense and it is going to keep being a problem, as mediocre teams are going to come to BC Place with a similar posture to the Rapids in hopes of winning a point. The players (much like the fans) need some time to adjust develop as a possession-based team but it’s something that needs to be addressed.
- Yohei Takaoka has that dog in him.
Man of the Match
Julian Gressel remains Julian Gressel while Tristan Blackmon had a couple of big tackles and I like how the Caps make use of bringing him across midfield when they’re in possession. But this is between Ahmed, whose occasional loose touches are balanced out by everything else and Takaoka, for the decisive save.