Wednesday night at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, the Vancouver Whitecaps played out a 2-2 draw with the Colorado Rapids, ending their month away from home. While Vancouver will look back on their road trip positively overall, as 11 points from 7 road matches is still an impressive accomplishment, this was a match where the Whitecaps simply ran out of energy against a much inferior team, turning what could have been an easy win into a rather unsatisfying draw.
Ok, on to player ratings, as always.
Yohei Takaoka – 6.0
The Japanese keeper still does not have the best presence in the box, but that was never his selling point. That said, he made a couple of big stops in this one when the Whitecaps needed them. A nice bounce-back from RSL.
Mathias Laborda – 5.5
He opened his MLS account with an opportunistic goal off a set play which is nice to see. More importantly, he is starting to defend within the structure of the team, which has been a long time coming. Still not 100% there, but you can see the progress.
Ranko Veselinovic – 5.5
The Serbian was solid in the middle without too much to complain about or too much of note.
Tristan Blackmon – 5.0
Blackmon’s form has been pretty mixed recently, he’s been at the centre of a number of moments where the Whitecaps have switched off, and I think all the tweaks positionally have left him a bit lost. Hopefully he can get back on form defensively, because his passing is always sharp.
Andres Cubas – 5.5
Vancouver’s midfield destroyer is obviously at less than 100% at the moment. While the Whitecaps do not allow much through the middle of the park, he’s been late to the party a couple times when he’d normally be there to save the day. The bar is high for Cubas, but they’ll need him at his best for the final playoff push.
Sam Adekugbe – 4.5
Another player who looks less than fully fit. Nonetheless, Sam’s performances have been disappointing so far. On the ball, there’s an argument to be made that Ryan Raposo provides a more impactful threat at the moment. Defensively, he’s yet to provide the steadying presence which was hoped for.
Richie Laryea – 5.0
The potential designated player has created some good opportunities, but he’s not providing the regular impactful offensive contributions that were anticipated. Obviously, a huge moment in this match was the Grade A chance he blasted high of the target which would have seen the Whitecaps go up 2-0 before the half. It’s a different match if he finishes that one.
Ali Ahmed – 5.5
The young Canadian was decent, but the whole midfield lacked identity with the tactical shift. He works much better with Schopf or Vite to compliment him.
Junior Hoilett – 5.0
Maybe this is a hot take, but I thought it was a strange decision to start Hoilett over the other midfield regulars. Junior will have had so little meaningful time at training to build chemistry, and he looked out of sync as the Whitecaps tried to throw a tactical curve-ball at Colorado, which in reality only limited Vancouver’s play. I think Hoilett is great as a super sub, but I find his fit as a starter questionable to say the least.
Ryan Gauld – 6.5
Running until he could no more, Gauld put in another impressive showing which hopefully won’t cost him too much in the long run physically. The Whitecaps will need him at his best for the last couple of matches if he misses out this weekend, which it sounds like he might.
Brian White – 7.0
Another day, another goal for BW. Quietly, White has been one of the most clinical finishers in MLS over the last 20+ matches. He also continues to be great in hold-up play, registering three key passes in this one.
To me, this game was calling for Pedro Vite (6.5) from the outset, and I’m still confused as to why he didn’t start. Seb Berhalter (6.0) and Ryan Raposo (6.0) also brought a nice attacking spark after the Whitecaps looked listless early in the second half. Alessandro Schopf (5.5) was alright, while Simon Becher (5.5) simply doesn’t do it for me when the team needs something to unlock the match. Unless he’s able to poach a goal, there’s a pretty limited upside to his game in my view (I know that’s not a super popular one). To me, that’s the role that Hoilett should be playing.
Vanni Sartini – 4.5
The manager admitted as much after the match, but this is one where unfortunately, the tactics hurt an already weary Vancouver team. Simply put, they didn’t have the time in the lead-up, nor the energy on the pitch, to properly implement a new system. Looking back, they would have been best served sticking to their bread and butter, even though the Rapids would have known what was coming. Ultimately, the Rapids had no response to the Whitecaps in the first half, and if Vancouver had played in their normal system, perhaps they could have built an advantage that took the Rapids completely out of the match, even so, they still had that chance! Anyhow, it will be interesting to see what Vanni Sartini does on the weekend, especially if Ryan Gauld is unavailable. They need to find a way to get Adekugbe and Laryea more involved.
Ok, those were my thoughts, what did you think of how the players fared? Let me know in the comments.