Report Card: Unbeaten streak or scoring struggles? Why not both!

Saturday night at BC Place, the Vancouver Whitecaps secured their second consecutive 0-0 draw in MLS play against the Colorado Rapids. While Vancouver has not lost in league play since the 4th of March, they also have only scored one goal since the 1st of April, where they took advantage of a ten-men CF Montreal side. Overall for Vancouver, that fixture against Montreal is the only MLS match this season where the Whitecaps have scored more than once.

What does all of this mean, you might be asking. Well, Vancouver has appeared to solve their early season defensive issues, which is good news. On the other hand though, finding the right combination of attacking players to finish off their solid chance creation has remained challenging, and perhaps even regressed to some extent. Not so good. I was hoping that the bye week would have provided Vanni Sartini time to dial in theses areas, but it looked like more of the same in attack for Vancouver in this match.

Alright, with some general comments out of the way, we move to player grades:

Yohei Takaoka (7.5): It’s tremendous that the Whitecaps have a keeper they just don’t have to worry about at the back, especially against teams that don’t overload the box with crosses. Takaoka made a couple timely saves, including the penalty stop, which if we’re being fair was a pretty poor attempt from Rubio.

Luis Martins (6.0): Sartini’s obsession with the Portuguese fullback is odd. In a match where the Whitecaps knew they would be free to send their fullbacks forward, Martins does not offer enough athleticism at this stage to put opponents under threat. While he does show flashes of technique (even though he was 0/4 on crosses in this match), the Whitecaps have enough crossers of the ball already in their lineup. What they need is more players who create space.

Ranko Veselinvoic (6.5): There were a couple scruffy moments from Ranko and Brown early on, but after that, the Serbian CB settled into a rhythm and was pretty solid. It’s nice to see Ranko becoming a bit more active in attack and on set pieces as well.

Tristan Blackmon (7.5): The American had two crucial defensive interventions in the first half: A block to stop a dangerous second-chance shot, and a last ditch sliding tackle to break up a dangerous Rapids counter-attack. Overall, Blackmon has been the Whitecaps’ best defender this season and that continued on Saturday.

Javain Brown (5.5): As is typical with the Jamaican, he has good matches and bad matches. In those bad matches, it’s usually a good idea to sub him off early. It was clear early on Javain was having an off-night, and you could see that Robin Fraser was targeting him specifically in the second half when Jonathan Lewis came off the bench. Ultimately, Sartini’s lack of identification and response led to the penalty. Similar to my comment with Martins, it would be good to see Javain threaten more players 1v1 as opposed to always looking for an early cross. Unlike Martins, Brown (hypothetically) has the physical tools to do this effectively.

Andres Cubas (6.5): A pretty standard Cubas showing, not much to add really. According to my stats, he did lose all 4 of his ground duels, which seems like a bit of an anomaly.

Julian Gressel (7.0): The early season MVP continues to be really effective and recorded 5 key passes in this match. If the Whitecaps can find a way to have White a bit less isolated up front, his assist total could really grow.

Ali Ahmed (7.0): I thought Ahmed put in a very veteran-like showing in the midfield on Saturday. While there weren’t as many surging runs forward as normal, he won a ton of 50/50’s in the middle of the park and made a lot of shrewd passes. It looks like he’s developing as a midfielder right in front of us.

Ryan Gauld (6.0): It feels like Gauld just can’t catch a break at the moment. He remains active with his passes and crossing (6 key passes vs. Colorado), but his ability to get on the end of chances, or find his own shots, has largely vanished. He also committed a crucial turnover in the midfield which led to the Rapids’ penalty opportunity. While it’s not all doom and gloom, the Whitecaps need more from Gauld if they want to push for a top four spot in the West.

Pedro Vite (6.0): With ball dominant players like Gauld and Gressel on the pitch, it looks like Pedro Vite’s wandering style does not fit the Whitecaps quite as well as it did last season. Overall, I think the Whitecaps should have a longer look at two strikers as opposed to dual no. 10s. If not, the Whitecaps will have to build up more around the box with the ball on the floor as opposed to aerial balls in order to get the most out of Vite.

Brian White (6.0): I thought that the striker put in an absolute shift given the fact that he was most often bracketed by two Colorado CBs. William Yarbrough did what he could to ruin White’s day with a couple of really good stops, and overall, the Whitecaps had to know that this was a pretty stout back three, especially on crosses. I think the failure to score in this match falls more to tactics than it did White’s efforts.

Vanni Sartini (5.5): Questions should be asked of Vancouver’s attacking approach in this one, as they focused most of their efforts (39 attempts in total) on the one thing Colorado defends the most effectively, crosses. Even if this is the area where Vancouver has been most effective in attack this season, it would have been nice to see more explicit adjustments from the manager. As already mentioned, leaving Brown on the pitch was a bit of a head-scratcher, and while introducing Simon Becher was a good idea, it was curious for Sartini to remove Ahmed, one of the few players who had the legs to really stretch Colorado vertically. All in all, Sartini has done a good job dialing in this team defensively, but he needs to find a way to get more out of Gauld, Vite and whoever else might play up front going forward.

Ok, those are my thoughts. Let me know how you viewed the match, and the performances, in the comments below!

(Image Credit: Vancouver Whitecaps)

11 thoughts on “Report Card: Unbeaten streak or scoring struggles? Why not both!

  1. Good points. Gauld bests Vite in every category and Gauld will put himself into the mix right in front of goal from time to time. Vite, at least in the last game, just didn’t get into the penalty are enough. So Vite should not be starting right now. Yes, Gressel has had some good hits at goal but not enough on target. He is playing well this season, way better than last season.

  2. I am not sure that Vite and Gauld are complementary as starters. Neither is looking to be a goal scoring threat right now and one of them needs to be. Vite flitters about and is strictly a playmaker type (freeing up Brown for his shot being his one highlight of the night). Apart from White, the only other guy from the attacking five with a chance on goal was Ahmed with his half chance. On other nights, Gressel’s had some good hits at goal, but the rest aren’t doing enough. That’s a limited attack, regardless of the possession and build up play.

  3. I’m beginning to think this is all up to tactics and for the most part we have the right players. Our midfield is pretty solid and our forwards can score (sometimes) but the fact that we kept going for crosses over and over again (usually with just two players in the box) made it very predictable and easy to defend. Ahmed seemed to be the only player interested in actually cutting into the middle instead of constantly playing the ball out wide.
    Becher coming on seemed to add some movement and he looked willing to go for a run but he never received the ball. Not once. I don’t think he even touched the ball the entire time he was on. Instead of getting any passes the Caps kept going wide looking for crosses. You just felt that if Ahmed was on with Becher they could have connected to attack through the middle but the tactics just stayed the same. The definition of insanity and doing the same thing over and over again expecting results, but in the Caps case it is expecting goals.

  4. and its time for us supporters and the media to start being critical of the ownership group — the buck starts and stops with them – lets put some heat on them as its the only part of the Caps MLS history that hasnt changed since 2011


  5. some thoughts from my cow pasture :

    1. Vanni is an enigma wrapped in a mystery of why he does what he does and when and who he does it with at a place in the game — i think its 1 reason why a player like gauld is underperforming the season- vanni would turn my ear off too

    and lumping long balls down the field to a scampering brian white is just amateurist tactics- worked once in over 20 attempts

    2. 2 top performers last night- Ahmed who really is a pleasure to watch- keep your eye on him as he is always thinking where to find space and when to probe the opposing defence- he glides like silk on soft skin; and Blackmon who is such an intelligent and dependable player


    3. dont we all get tired of hearing that White is going to get some luck and score like he did in mid-2021 ? wont happen- lots of hard work, but often his running is pointless and he panics when he does get a chance — its not always bad luck

    4. seen enough of vite to know that he is a fader- dont ever count on him to elevate a team – personally, i would loan him to a CPL team and see if that shakes up his ego

    5. in the first half, i counted almost double digit poor crosses, especially by brown and gressel-

    time to rate the Owners- 1.0 head coach- Vanni- 4.0


    and its accurate IMO

  6. Looking at the stats the Caps did dominate but they didn’t really look that threatening, especially as the match wore on. And Sartini making frustrating subs and waiting too long as well. I don’t agree totally with the ratings. The google ratings show Takaoka, Martins, Blackmon, Ahmed and White as best players. Vite gets the weakest player rating followed by Gressel and Gauld. What seemed to be happening in their combination play was 2 of 3 players would play very well but the 3rd player couldn’t keep the good play going. This happened to every one out there except for Takaoka, Ranko, Blackmon, Ahmed and Cubas. Perhaps Ahmed should have been moved over to Vite’s spot with Berhalter or Schopf playing left mid. The Caps crossing is a bit predictable and only causes problems when the crosses are coming from behind the backline, closer to the goal line. Perhaps 1st time crosses might give our forwards some chance of connecting. Our play in and around the opposing penalty area continues to plague us. Not scoring and thus allowing Colorado not to open up somewhat made for not a great 2nd half. We’re still in the thick of the standings so there’s still hope….

  7. Teams don’t reach the playoffs having records of the most tie games in a row or the least number of losses in a row. They win games. As long as Sartini is making roster decisions, the team won’t advance, and players will begin exploring their options. There are many variables in individual contracts, and if players begin to believe that management is sabotaging them to avoid paying incentives, most folks can imagine the outcome on signing day. White and Brown should never start another game; at least not until results change. Vanni has his own agenda, and it doesn’t seem to include winning games. He needs to go, and the helm shouldn’t be handed off to Jungwirth.

  8. Winning is about being ble to score goals….the owners either have to hire a new coach and /or buy a world class scorer!…….= 10,000 new fans at home games…………………{apple is crap!

  9. We really need a player of quality up front.
    I agree with you, White put in a solid effort but the tactics just were not there. Gauld definitely didn’t have his best game and Cubas was mostly invisibile which is rare.

    Those short passes from corners are not working. Vanni needs to realize MLS teams watch tape – they’re ready if you repeat yourself. Let’s see some radical changes – we’ve made strides but the results are average at best. We’re not far off from Colorado’s record and I think we have a much better team – on paper anyway.

    I’m glad Teibert is finally off the pitch and it’s good to see young talent on the field – Ahmed and Becher will be game changers soon enough.

    Not being able to score goals is frustrating as h-ll for fans. All this “unbeaten in __” is rubbish. It should be “winless in __ matches” or “goalless”.

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