Whitecaps return to BC Place after disappointing 2-2 draw

A marathon road trip ended in disappointment Wednesday, with the Whitecaps managing only a 2-2 draw against the last-place Colorado Rapids and putting in serious jeopardy their hopes of a home playoff match.

The Caps appeared to be destined to throw away points from a winning position for a second match in a row but a Brian White header allowed them to ensure they claimed at least a point before returning to BC Place.

Vanni Sartini made some tweaks, pivoting back to the Christmas tree and a four man backline. Mathias Laborda slotted in at right back, pushing Richie Laryea further forward. Sam Adekugbe made his return to the lineup, meanwhile, and his Canadian National Team comrade Junior Hoilett made his first start as a Caps player.

Stop me if you’ve heard this before but the Caps got a first half goal off a set piece. Vancouver’s first foray offensively off a Rapids’ turnover was blocked out for a corner. But the Caps have proven their danger on these chances, with a long looping ball from Gauld sent back into the danger area by a Tristan Blackmon header, where Mathias Laborda got on the end of it for his first career MLS goal.

To further reprise Saturday, Brian White had a header cleared off the line by a Marko Illic save. Beyond that, the Caps were content to try and settle things down and slowly pull the Rapids out of their shape. Laryea generally sat inside, allowing Hoilett to push up further and link up with Brian White and Ryan Gauld.

Meanwhile, the midfield liked to push forward in those transition moments, daring the Rapids to try and create something offensively. The home side’s best chance of the half was a set piece let off, with a well hit Connor Ronan free kick finding its way all the way through to a surprised Andreas Maxso, who couldn’t redirect it across the face of goal.

The Caps found plenty of space on the counter, however, and Richie Laryea was teed up for an absolute sitter on the stroke of halftime. Despite some nice build up from Gauld and Ali Ahmed, Laryea could only sky it and hold his head in his hands in frustration.

Out of possession, the Caps almost played with three across the top of the attacking line but their formation evolved into more of a 4-4-2 diamond as they broke forward. It was a bit of a new wrinkle but it didn’t lead to a prolific number of chances.

Coming out of the break, the Rapids made two changes and it gave them an instant lift and you could feel their mentality shift. Substitute Calvin Harris nicely cut back a pass from the endline and while Diego Rubio missed the first shot, he didn’t make any mistake on the second, pushing a shot past an off-guard Yohei Takaoka and some sketchy marking.

As the Rapids regained their foothold in the match with a couple dangerous counters, Vanni Sartini opted to remove a tired Gauld for Pedro Vite in hopes of manufacturing some energy. As part of that, Sartini instructed Laryea and Adekugbe to push forward as wingbacks and moved to a back three.

Instead Colorado just kept rolling. First, Takaoka was called upon to make another key save. Then another set piece catastrophe for Vancouver led to Cole Bassett finishing off a Ronan corner kick to vault Colorado in front. Given the organization of Vancouver for the second half, it was difficult not to see that moment coming.

Vancouver didn’t really seem to be getting any momentum back, despite a line change of subs. But like many times this season, a Brian White header changed things, with the striker beating Danny Wilson to meet a great Sebastian Berhalter corner and put the Caps back on level terms.

The match was end-to-end for almost the entire second half. In stoppage time, Takaoka came up big to deny Jonathan Lewis on one end, before a vintage Caps’ break and an Alessandro Schopf shot was denied by Illic.

Stray Thoughts

  • After his positive sub appearance in Houston, Junior Hoilett has really struggled. Ditto Richie Laryea, who seemed to take one step forward and two steps back in this one, where he had some good moments going forward but missed some open passes and shots. Sam Adekugbe has been outpaced by Ryan Raposo as of late. The last couple of matches have been a bad advertisement for Laryea as a DP and a bad advertisement for the summer transfer business. Doesn’t mean these guys are bums but the Caps haven’t been getting the consistent, 90 minute performances that you’d expect given the experience and quality of those three.
  • Maybe someday we’ll effectively execute zonal marking on set pieces. Wednesday was not the night.
  • Brian White has been the Caps’ talisman all year and while this wasn’t necessarily his most vital goal of the year, it came as Vancouver chased a result they absolutely had to have and the striker came through. White won’t catch those atop the Golden Boot race but he isn’t far off, with his header Wednesday being his 13th goal of the season.
  • Takaoka has been getting a lot of stick (not without reason) and he wasn’t perfect in this one. But he came up with a couple of big saves when Vancouver needed him to and it helped them get something out of this one.
  • You could say a lot about this one. You could mutter expletives about monster truck rallies at BC Place. You could curse the schedule makers for sending Vancouver to elevation to end their massive road trip. And you could finger another poor defensive showing and wonder whether the Caps’ backline will make it through the playoffs (a fair question).
  • But this match was troubling because the Caps got out worked and had an inferior mentality to a Rapids team that has little to play for and has been terrible for much of the season. Vancouver thought Colorado would roll over for them and they didn’t. Throwing away points from winning positions has been a constant problem this season and is probably the gravest threat to any chance of a playoff run. There is ample chance for a response at BC Place on Saturday but this was a concerning result. The RSL match could be chalked up to fatigue but this seems to be a symptom of a deeper problem.

Man of the Match

White is the only real choice here and he was working hard and didn’t switch off, even before the goal.

5 thoughts on “Whitecaps return to BC Place after disappointing 2-2 draw

  1. Good points made by all. After the 1st half I was thinking good/solid half. We’re up a goal but beware Colorado is going to come out with a different game plan to take the game to us. So the 2nd half starts and I’m looking at our formation and it looks like we’ve gone to a back 3. I’m wondering why. Then we concede with our own left flank being exposed and it’s WTF. I don’t know this for sure but my eyes are telling me this doesn’t make sense. And a deeper thought has me wondering the why the experimental lineup in the first place. Both Richie and Sam are a bit disappointing right now as they don’t seem interested in attacking with any conviction. Receiving a pass, then a couple of touches, then a back pass is not what i expected from these 2. Kind of reminds of the way Rusty plays and i thought, thankfully, we had moved on from that. Even if their play improves there’s no way they should become DP players. IMO

    1. I take the point made (and by others currently, also) about Lareya & Adekgube further: Neither is up to standard as a starter in MLS, let alone as a top-end wage signing. Both are PR signings, by Schuster’s own words, and neither are showing they’re either interested in or capable of putting forth the effort necessary to justify their wage and minutes. We should expect better at this point from such moves, and yet, it’s more of what’s come before.

      And Hoilett looks every bit a player in his early/mid-thirties without a club. Not a compliment to that signing, either.

  2. Gauld was subbed out with a foot injury, by Sartini’s admission post-match is questionable for Saturday. Also, gassed, but he’s looked the latter for three matches now as he’s simply been played too much.

    Fortunate to get the draw. Poor performance overall, concerning that the goals in recent matches are essentially all set-piece goals, more concerning that many individual performances are regressing match over match.

    Given the strength of the last four opponents, home or away regardless, the side is not in good form and it’s looking finishing higher than 9th might be beyond it.

  3. i think the elevation and the long road fatique set in 2 games ago- its a lot to ask for and hopefully we never see a repeat of this scheduling

    i also- like you- have been questioning whether or not Lareya is a worthy DP- his play has been spotty and he slows down the pace of the attack which isnt good for the Caps game tactics- at this point, i would say that Richie isnt a DP quality

    Takaoka made some solid saves and controlled the crosses quite well- but he almost gave up another goal on the short side when he was out of a position, looking for a cross that never came

    how will the caps respond on saturday is a HUGE question- will they have the energy and desire after a disappointing last 3 games ? can we expect Ryan Gauld to keep on being the drive as its a lot to ask any player game in- game out ?

    having said all of this, the TEAM still came back with 3W, 2T and 2L- 11-21 points- it could have been much worse

Join the Conversation!