Report Card: They Don’t Ask How…

Sunday night in Los Angeles, the Vancouver Whitecaps secured a 2-1 comeback victory over the LA Galaxy to secure their place in the elimination stage of Leagues Cup.

To all those that watched, it was pretty clear that this match was far from a masterpiece for Vancouver, but nonetheless, the Whitecaps were able to get it done when it counted and it is always nice to see them secure a win on the road. I also think it’s worth pointing out that there are reasons to believe Vancouver is not taking this competition terribly seriously, especially with their place in next year’s continental competition secured. Whether it’s starting Isaac Boehmer, or just being very cautious with players in terms of injuries, I think it’s clear that Vanni Sartini views this portion of the season as valuable additional time to improve the team, but not something where they are living and dying with how far they make it in the competition.

All that said, let’s have a look at the individual performances from Sunday:

Isaac Boehmer (6.5) – Big credit to Boehmer for stepping into the spotlight and being up for the task. Not to discredit the academy product in any way, but you do notice a real difference in how the team struggles to maintain possession without Takaoka’s calmness and quality with the ball at his feet. Command of the area used to be a bit of a problem for Isaac, but he was very confident and decisive in this match. His shot-stopping and athletic ability have always been top notch and he made two good saves.

Mathias Laborda (6.0)  – A solid showing from the young Uruguayan. He stood up well in 1v1’s against the Galaxy’s dynamic midfielders and generally limited high-quality chances. His passing was not terribly sharp but this was a bit of a symptom of the way Vancouver played most of the night.

Ranko Veselinovic (6.0) – It was tough to see Ranko have to come off so early in the match, especially in a competition that doesn’t mean much for Vancouver. That said, it didn’t look too serious for Ranko, so hopefully he’s ok for the resumption of MLS play, or later on in this competition if need be.

Tristan Blackmon (6.0) – The American defender did not look great for a couple of matches after coming back from injury, but since then, he has settled into a nice rhythm once again. As with Laborda, he did the job defensively, although he was sharper with his passing and long balls.

Ryan Raposo (6.0) – With the way the Whitecaps played in this match, Raposo did not have many chances on the ball in an advanced role, which is usually when he looks at his best. At the moment, Johnson and Berhalter look like more attractive options to fit the way this side plays.

JC Ngando (7.5) – Especially in the opening stages of the match, I thought Ngando was exceptional. Within the first five minutes, he played two precise through-balls which created very dangerous opportunities for Vancouver, and overall, he looked very confident with the ball at his feet. With Julian Gressel no longer in the picture, there’s no time like the present to see if Ngando can be a regular MLS contributor – I think he can.

Andres Cubas (7.0) – I feel a bit guilty that there’s not too much new to say about Cubas. He’s a defensive monster match after match.

Alessandro Schopf (6.0) – The Austrian does a lot of subtle work that probably doesn’t get the credit it deserves. That being said, given the way the likes of Ahmed (and now Ngando) have looked this season in the midfield, his play has been a bit underwhelming.

Ryan Gauld (7.5) – It was a very quiet night for the Scottish midfielder up until the late stages, where Vancouver was really able to flip the match in its head. On this occasion, playing Gauld as an inverted wing-back seemed to limit him more than it unlocked his creativity, but Vancouver made some tweaks as the match went on to get him in dangerous areas more often. Gauld’s service gave the Galaxy all kinds of problems on the first goal, and his scissor-flick set up Brian White’s late match-winner.

Brian White (7.0) – Given Vancouver’s limited on-ball effectiveness, the American was quiet most of the night. That being said, he scored again, this time in a clutch moment, and that’s all that really matters for the striker.

Sergio Cordova (6.0) – Though his goal-scoring run came to an end, it was nice to see the same shades of positive play continue from the Venezuelan striker. His compete in 50/50’s and ability in hold-up play is not great, but he’s making more and more dangerous runs that stretch teams defensively.

Karifa Yao (6.0) – This was a big spot for the young Canadian after looking pretty poor recently for the Next Pro team. He came in and held his own, all you could ask for really.

Pedro Vite (7.0) – The attacking mid brought a spark inside the final 30+ minutes as Vancouver tried to find goals. I’ve been impressed by Vite’s growth this season, especially in his duels and his defensive play.

Deiber Caicedo (7.0) – Though his role on the team has been diminished since his return from injury, he’s been a nice spark for Vancouver off the bench. He played a great ball which helped set up the winning goal.

Levonte Johnson (7.0) – As with Caicedo, although his stint was brief, he made a key play on the winning goal. Johnson’s effort to rise high and win a contested header is worth shouting out, without this, perhaps the Whitecaps would’ve had to try their luck at penalties once again.

To summarize my thoughts on the match, perhaps I am less pessimistic than some when it comes to the overall performance. This was a prototypical road match for Vancouver where they did just enough to get the result across the line in a competition where it is questionable if they are taking it all that seriously. Although Vancouver was overwhelmed in terms of possession, they did not concede a lot of high-danger chances, which is encouraging. Equally, I thought that Ngando and the guys off the bench had some good moments, which should be the whole point of Leagues Cup, in my opinion. With the win, the Whitecaps have secured themselves a great opportunity to test themselves against another top side from Liga MX. Will they be able to avenge the ghosts of the 2017 Champions League semifinal, we will see on Friday night, it should be fun!

3 thoughts on “Report Card: They Don’t Ask How…

  1. Speaking of tomorrow and player moves. Seems Caicedo is on his way out, right? Return to Colombia?

  2. well done on your ratings- much like i would have done

    as a side note, some might think you were overly generous with a Cap team that really struggled for the first 75 minutes – but being on the road and winning UGLY means the players should get a .5 or 1 point higher rating- usually we loose these games by 2-3 goals… but we WON- its a good sign for the Team

    i thought Gauld was largely wasted for the first 60-70 minutes- isolating him out-wide is just poor tactics IMO- he drives the team and isolation should not be an option- yet he had a hand in both goals because he was given the room to do so

    i think that Boehmer deserves the game start on Friday, simply because Takaoka was obviously needing a long break, especially after a 19 shot PK drama

    by tomorrow, we will know if any new player(s) are coming in- we can hope its a pacey, experienced LB/CB

    looking forward to Friday’s game – it had been a tough year to even attend games for months, but now, i enjoy watching the Caps play, and its got me to have a better opinion of White and Cordova

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