Post Match: Load Bearing Wall

The Vancouver Whitecaps lost a frustrating contest, 3-1 on the road to St. Louis City. The defeat marked 1 calendar year since Vancouver won on the road. It also showed that Yohei Takaoka is kind of important.

Vancouver carried the play for most of the match. The ‘Caps had over 60% possession and won the xG battle. But, unfortunately, Thomas Hasal had a nightmare performance in the St Louis goal. A long looping free kick went over his head to give St Louis the lead and then a miscommunication with Tristan Blackmon put them up two just before halftime. The young Canadian looked so shaky that St. Louis seemed to just adopt a strategy of smashing the ball on goal and hoping for the best. This created the funniest shot map of all time:

But to St. Louis’s credit, this plan worked! Shortly after Brian White pulled a goal Hasal parried a long-range free-kick into the path of a St Louis player who cut the ball back to Manny Perez, who killed off Vancouver’s hopes of a comeback. 

Would you believe that Vancouver’s underlying numbers in road games are actually quite good? They are! Sure, they have a negative expected goal difference on the road but almost every team in the league does. MLS has an extremely strong field tilt in favour of the home team. But Vancouver’s expected goal differential per game on the road is the 4th best in the Western Conference, sitting at around -0.11 after this game. Obviously, you wouldn’t expect a winning record with these types of underlying numbers but you would expect to win sometimes. Vancouver’s road record joins Brian White’s finishing on a growing list of statistically unlikely things going against the ‘Caps this season.  

The result aside, the Whitecaps played very well. Defensively they gave up almost no clear-cut chances, all of St Louis’s goals were gifts. There was only one instance where Vancouver was carved open and it came early in the first half when some nice passing freed up Nicholas Giochinni in the box but the young American whiffed his shot. You really can’t ask for much better, especially on the road. 

Offensively there was also a lot to like Julian Gressel continued to make dangerous things happen and Pedro Vite looked extremely lively. Simon Becher probably could have done better when he was 1v1 with Roman Burki but he got in behind a couple of times and ran hard which is what he is out there to do. Ryan Gauld and Alessandro Schopf didn’t have a ton of direct offence between them but I thought they did a good job linking play. 


Sergio Cordova played again, and again he did not look very good. I have to believe that better things are coming from the Venezuelan. He was a reasonably effective striker on a much worse MLS team last year, so surely he will eventually figure it out (right? right!?). But if you didn’t have the piece of context, there would not be a lot in Cordova’s performances to convince you a turnaround was imminent. Where would the Whitecaps be if they had an extra player who played like a million-dollar-per-year player? One imagines they would be in an even stronger position. Hopefully, Cordova can become that player sooner rather than later.

Hasal’s bad day at the office creates a looming decision headache for Vanni Sartini. The Whitecaps need to start three Canadians in the Canadian Championship final against CF Montreal on June 8th. You would not back Hasal to start that game after this performance. Ali Ahmed is unlikely to be recovered in time, Karifa Yao is yet to turn in a particularly convincing performance in a Whitecaps shirt and Russell Teibert’s struggles are well-documented. This leaves Ryan Raposo as really the only dependable Canadian available for selection. Will we see Levonte Johnson get a start? Might Antoine Coupland or Kam Habibullah make their starting debut? Much to consider! 

7 thoughts on “Post Match: Load Bearing Wall

  1. Painful to watch – they played some really good football in the first half– this has got to be on the coaching staff as well as H– this kid was not ready to be a starting keeper. He will not start in the Canadian championship or the coach must go.The coach blaming the referee doesn’t cut it.

  2. Sartini’s reasons were questionable. The only reason Hasal should have started is if Takaoka was carrying a knock. Any keeper dealing with that 1st goal would have had to be inch perfect. That was a tremendous free kick that any keeper would have had problems with

  3. On Hasal, he wasn’t very good last year, he wasn’t very good against York this year, and was brutal (obviously) in this game. For Youssef Dahha’s fine work over the years, Hasal has regressed and it’s time to move on. The single best two ‘keeper performances last year for the Whitecaps were from Boehmer. It’s time that he overtake Hasal as the #2 choice.

  4. I missed why Hasal got the start. Anyone know why?

    Also, anyone have an opinion on Hasal’s positioning on the first goal? Did he get it right and it was just that the free kick was basically perfect? Or did he make a mess of his foot work and he should have been further back in his goal?

    1. hasal got it all wrong- came out too soon and couldnt back-pedal to recover – it reminds me of the EPL and England goalie, David Seaman, who played for Arsenal and couldnt back-pedal either – for the immediate future and for his career, Thomas should be loaned out – he needs to play more competitive games

  5. sound bites :

    1. the Caps deserved at least 1 point from the game- they played well and never gave up- i like that a lot

    2. we all know that goalie, Thomas Hasal, had a howler of a game – it was embarrassing, to be honest– and no doubt, Thomas will be kicking himself a long time– after watching him in 2022 and now this game, can he really be the Caps
    2nd ?? Axel has to do some shrewd shopping because Hasal needs a lot more seasoning to ever become a MLS goalie- in the Canadian Championship game, Vanni has to have takaoka in goal– right ??

    3. wishful thinking that cordova will solve his lack in attack- he just doesnt have it – and please stop dwelling on a 3 month stretch with RSL – he is and has been a 1 Goal/7+ games player – i didnt see 1 move tonight that offered any hope that he can score while becher gets chances every game (he should have had 1 tonight)- and sergio is very weak on headers, even though he is tall… he cant jump!

    4. we have a very good MF and usually a solid defence- nice to see Vite being more consistent in his play

    give us a consistent goal scorer and we would give any MLS team a run for their money- havent said that since 2011

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