Second Half Suffering for Vancouver at RSL

After the Whitecaps’ recent scintillating road form led many to believe this team could finish second in the West, a midweek hiccup against Houston brought the Whitecaps down to earth. It was a demoralizing defeat for a team that recently had been taking points from most teams they faced. As such, coming into Saturday’s game, there was an expectation of the Whitecaps steering the ship back on course, if they wanted to cement their place as a heavy hitter this season. While the Whitecaps did bring some cause for belief again, things went terribly wrong in crucial moments, which ultimately led to a similar result.

The Whitecaps started the game strong, with a Ryan Gauld cross finding Brian White for the game’s opening goal. This took White’s tally to twelve goals this season, and Gauld’s assist count to ten, great form for two of the Whitecaps’ key players. The goal gave the team hope that they could hang with the big boys of the west this season and maybe confirm their spot in the playoffs early, they just had to defend their lead either or try to add on to it.

To their credit, the Whitecaps have at times put up intense defending displays that stifle even some of their most ardent rivals, and they were able to shut down Real Salt Lake in open play for the most part. It was telling though, that by the end of the first half, the Whitecaps only had shot twice more at the net, while RSL was invited to take six shots on Takaoka since the Brian White goal. The team looked like it was trying desperately to hold onto their lead, and playing like this would get taxing, so a tactical refresh would be needed at the half.

Coming into the second half, there was an air of smash and grab to the Whitecaps’ play. While the top two players were having a decent game between them, the rest of the team was not quite on the same level. Richie Laryea, who often is a team’s best performer, was largely ineffective this match, running the ball out of play and dribbling it for too long at times. Schopf wasn’t doing much better, and the Austrian has really struggled to make an impact this season overall. These were two key midfield pieces and creators that the Whitecaps could have used to help them get ahead, but no such moment came to pass.

Before any player could even settle into the second half, RSL got a free kick from distance, which Brayan Vera happily slotted home past a Takaoka who was way out of position. This goal shocked Vancouver into action, as they were now trying to chase a lead once more. However, they couldn’t muster any sort of threat, as RSL continued to attack the net, and on a particularly dangerous play that left the defense scrambling, Justen Glad doubled RSL’s tally. Suddenly, the Whitecaps were in real trouble.

From there on, it looked like a game out of 2020’s playbook, where the Whitecaps were constantly chasing a lead, but it was pretty much too little too late. Despite smart substitutions in Junior Hoilett and Simon Becher, the Whitecaps remained scoreless. There were calls for a Vancouver penalty as Glad clattered into Tristan Blackmon inside the area, but those calls were left wanting and the Whitecaps left their former temporary home empty handed.

The final game on their road stint is a visit to Western Conference basement dwellers Colorado. Getting three points there will be crucial in the hunt for finishing within top four in the West.

What did you think about the Whitecaps’ performance Saturday? Sound off in the comments below!

6 thoughts on “Second Half Suffering for Vancouver at RSL

  1. Considering that was our 6th road game and on short rest it was a decent road performance BUT Takaoka has to stop those. On the first not only is he out of position but if he sets a two person wall 10 yards off the ball that doesn’t happen. Sam also just doesn’t look right, he was so passive it was frustrating to watch. Another mid week game up next so here’s hoping they can get their legs under them.

  2. I was thinking pretty good 1st half for the caps with a 1 goal lead but knew that salt lake was going to come out with a much more assertive approach and how would the caps deal with that. I would have brought on Ahmed right away as he causes a lot of problems for our opponents. Perhaps if Takaoka stops that free kick then we at least get a draw. We certainly played well after going down a goal but the final finish wasn’t there. Becher had a great chance but he’s rusty after being frozen out for so long. Hoillet looks good but his minutes take away from younger players. Not sure if this is the way

  3. My thoughts:

    – Takaoka has been in a slump for a while now. His performance is almost unrecognizable from earlier this season. It’s not all his fault as the Caps’ defence has never been their strong point, but he’s making fundamental mistakes. Hope he can turn it around.

    – Somebody needs to tell the team they have permission to score even if they are not Brian White or Ryan Gauld and not every goal needs to be a Brian White header. Too often chances in the box go squandered due to hesitation, lack of confidence, and not taking a shot and instead looking for someone to pass to finish it.

    – I’m still confused with Vanni’s starting XI and subs most of the time. I still don’t know if there is a method to his madness or it’s just throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks.

  4. Gomez Goons Gauld (film at 11). For the ref to “give a stern warning” to Gomez on his THIRD cheap shot and ZERO yellow cards for him is a typical MLS officiating joke.

    I’m not too disappointed (except by “Pass Back Sam”) with our play. We are really moving the ball. Given that it is the 6th game on the road and at high altitude our second half was understandable. We have until Wednesday to recharge because Colorado is also at altitude.

    I was really hoping to see Sam attack the left like he used to but he just never got out of first gear last night. Hopefully he gets going soon.

  5. just 4 thoughts:

    1. our MF was not very effective tonight- Ahmed should have been brought in much sooner to add some spark to an anemic MF performance (why does Raposo constantly ‘fall off the map’ after playing the previous game in a a very good way?)

    2. Takaoka should have stopped both goals- the first one is obvious; on the winning RSL goal, he should have come out to punch the ball away- his stature is an issue on cross balls and teams know that

    3. a 7 game road trip should never happen again- is it MLS bad planning or BC Place doing other things in the stadium?

    4. BEST PLAY OF THE NIGHT- the goal by White was a training practice reward- terrific movement and connection with Gauld on the corner kick- is there any better combo in MLS right now ?

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