Report Card: Out of Gas in Colorado

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.

6 thoughts on “Report Card: Out of Gas in Colorado

  1. Lareya looked gassed in this game and he just did not have any push . Adekugbe has not shown any of being a defensive force or an offensive overlap threat that he did with CMNT . He looks afraid to go forward and almost always just passes back . Not sure what roam or
    responsabilities he had been given . Both will be and are good pick ups . May have been previous talk , but I surely think having a Cordova still here in the very fit shape he became would be another great help letting Gauld come back under so he does not run himself ragged from
    the front line .

  2. 1. I assumed Hoillett starting was b/c with the fatigue 7 game Odyssey AND the elevation in Colorado, he was the better option to potentially go 90 than most of the regular midfield starters.

    Sure, he wasn’t actively playing when we signed him as a FA, but given all I’ve read about him going back to his start with the CMNT, I’m assuming he was killing it in training to be in the best shape possible when he did get picked up in England, or with the Caps as it turned out.

    2. Overall, I agree with the grades in isolation, but honestly if you’d graded on a curve with all the other factors and bumped everyone up 1 or 1.5 points I wouldn’t have complained.

    3. I had a conversation with my brother (before the midweek game if it matters) about Laborda, and… objectively, how do you think he compares to Ranko in his first season with the Caps?

    IMHO, they are around the same, with the issue being mental not physical, plus adapting to a new language from your teammates and moving overseas for the first time, etc

    Ranko too a huge step forward after that first year, and I’m optimistic that Laborda will as well, assuming he keeps getting game time. Still not sold on him over Brown, although Brown also got a lot better after his first year, and it never helps to have depth…

    But I also didn’t go back to look through old game ratings, so…

    1. Oh, and one last thing.

      Did anyone else see the 4 Canadian starters, and start salivating about potentially running out a majority Canadian starting 11 when defending the Voyageur’s Cup next year?

      Adekugbe, Ahmed, Laryea, Hoillett, plus maybe Raposo and Teibert. (I think Teibert moves on after this season to a CPL team, but I’m not sure about Raposo staying given the other signings)

      Toss in some of the younger Canadians from the second team…

  3. I thought Hoilett deserved a bit higher, but this is pretty spot on otherwise imo. Particularly your comments on Vite and Becher. The latter’s goal pace from early in the season was obviously unsustainable, but he really does nothing else right now. A net-negative on the ball.

    No one can replace Gauld but Vite is the next best in terms of ability to unlock a defense. It’s all about who can play with some freshness and sharpness right now; Vite has to start these next few games

  4. i think you fairly well nailed it !!

    i must admit that i wasnt a brian white fan, but you said the goals would come… and you were right- if he had notched more in the first 2 months, he could be in the lead for the Golden Boot

    really concerned about Ryan Gauld, but i did fear this would be coming with the amount of energy he was expending every game – such a GREAT PROFESSIONAL AND LEADER FOR THE CAPS

    as i said in another column, Lareya is not worth a DP place for 2024- he just slows down the Caps game of movement and fast pace going on attack

    i dont think that getting Lareya, Hoilett and Adekugbe was a bad decision as it has added more depth, but it does take time to fit into the team

    why Vanni fell back into old tactics by changing a team plan that didnt work is a mystery, but he will bounce back- KEEP THINGS SIMPLE AT THIS POINT OF THE SEASON

    the BIG QUESTION is- can the players bounce back for another game in 2 days ?

    1. It seemed to me we switched to 3 at the back for the 2nd half and that cost us the 1st goal. We’ve got to get Cubas and Gauld back to 100 %. Berhalter filled in for Cubas earlier and did well. No one can replace Gauld. White’s play may slip a little. Sartini has to figure out how to rotate his squad but still field a winning team. I think it’s doable. Sam and Richie have to up their intensity. They don’t look anything like they did when they were playing for the cnmt.

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