Post Match: Regressing to the Mean (But in a Fun Way)

The Vancouver Whitecaps emerged victorious in a slightly nervy affair again Minnesota United. It was a bit of a narrative buster, as the talk all week was about how Vancouver’s defence was much improved but they just couldn’t score. But in this match, Vancouver carved Minnesota open and then struggled to close out the game. These defensive struggles are certainly concerning but Vancouver was due some luck after being massively unlucky to this point in the season. So I won’t worry about that too much for now.

The first 20 minutes of the match looked a bit like someone had adjusted the FIFA sliders such that nobody could control the ball. The ball was bouncing all over the place on both teams and they struggled to build anything coherent. But, out of this chaos came the rare Brian White breakaway. Andres Cubas won the ball and put the normally plodding striker through on goal from the halfway line. White had just enough pace to get there ahead of Miguel Tapias (which, it has to be said, is kind of embarrassing for him) and slot past Dayne St Clair in the Minnesota goal.

But this lead was short-lived, as former Whitecap Michael Boxall was able to bundle the ball in off of a corner. Yohei Takaoka, it has to be said made a bit of a mess of it. But this mess was proceeded by not conceding a goal for nearly 15% of an MLS season so a slip-up was bound to come at some point.

The Whitecaps then began to take the game to Minnesota. Brian White was denied a second from close range by St Clair and Pedro Vite was not able to redirect a driven cross into an empty goal. The pressure continued after the half-time break. In the second phase of a corner, Ranko Veselinovic was able to head the ball through to White who converted with his testicles from close range. Unfortunately, the nut shot was not the most painful element of the goal for White as St.Clair clattered into him, forcing him out of the game with a knee injury.

Since the Minnesota defence was beaten in a foot race by White earlier in the game it was perhaps no surprise that Simon Becher and Ryan Gauld instantly cooked them in transition. Becher slotted home just 29 seconds after entering the game. This paved the way for Vancouver to sail to just their 3rd win of the season.

Except it didn’t. Minnesota piled the pressure on and Vancouver looked ill-equipped to handle it. Sang-Bin Jeong was slipped through by Robin Lod to pull a goal back. Both players were given a shocking amount of time and space. The chances just kept coming. Mender Garcia somehow failed to get a shot off when all alone in front, then was denied by Yohei Takaoka on a breakaway. Kemar Lawrence then got in on the action, as he was also unable to get a clean shot off despite being in acres of space. A curling effort by Jeong flew just wide, giving the ‘Caps their final reprieve of the night.

It was much closer than it needed to be in the end (the ‘Caps also had some chances to put the game to bed amid Minnesota’s onslaught) but the ‘Caps have been wildly unlucky this season. Coming into this match they had taken four fewer points than expected according to American Soccer Analysis so I think they can have one lucky one, as a treat. Of course, if this continues to be a problem then we can start worrying.

7 thoughts on “Post Match: Regressing to the Mean (But in a Fun Way)

  1. That was a pretty good game. A bit tedious at times, which had me thinking that Schopf and Vite should have been subbed at that half. Not that they were playing poorly but we had good options in Becher and Ahmed and if we’re playing for a win then upgrades are needed. Interesting that Becher’s insertion came from White’s injury. I’m guessing Sartini probably would have waited too long if White had remained healthy. And, White has improved his pace by half a step it seems. Where as before he would fade after 10 yards he now seems able to maintain it. Good on him and for that gutsy second goal. The Caps aren’t good enough to clinically win games 2-0, 3-0 etc so most games are going to be nail biters. As long as we can convert our scoring chances then we’ll probably be ok and make the playoffs. My big concern is Sartini’s subs. We can’t afford to put weaker players out there when we have better options on the bench. Who said Brown should never start again? He had a strong game IMO. Having international starters in your starting 11 is a good thing and should be considered as well when dishing out criticism….

  2. FYI: Brian White IS NOT back on track. I’m not sure he was ever “on track”. He did, however, prove during the post game fan interaction why he should never take his shirt off in public.

    Teibert’s lack of pitch awareness forced Blackmon to dribble forward at breakneck speed resulting in a possible injury to his right knee after a brutal take down by a Minnesota player. Fortunately for Vanni, Blackmon is resilient and will probably still be available for Wednesday.

    The Whitecaps are something like 2nd in the league for corner kicks. Last night they had at least 7. What is going on inside that box during those kicks? It looks like a free for all. Do they practice corner kicks?

    Let’s not leave Vanni out of the post game analysis and ask why he chose Teibert in the first place over Ahmed, a more energetic and intelligent player. Is Ahmed being “saved” for the midweek game against York? Who the heck knows? I’m not sure Vanni knows.

    Very frustrating to watch.

  3. For a club who’s biggest achievement in the MLS era is having a VWFC2 product develop into a Bayern starter and national team star, they sure are stingy with minutes for promising young talents. Would really like to see Becher get some more starts and Ahmed needs to be a permanent fixture in the starting XI. I’d even rather see Raposo in for Martins on the regular.

    1. Raposo starting at fullback makes us weaker. He’s not a starter in MLS. CCL then ok. He’s not even a natural fullback IMO so….I would say, however, that we do need another left footed fullback on our roster

      1. A natural left footer at LB is a must. I prefer Raposo as a late game LW sub where his energy with pressing as well as back tracking can serve a role. Or, use him at RB on his preferred right foot.

  4. I think that luck was pretty evenly split between the two sides. Both had sitters that weren’t converted. Apple TV graphics at the end of the game said that xG were 5-3 for the Caps, so I think it’s fair to say that the better time on the night got the three points they deserved.

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