Report Card: What’s going on with Takaoka?

Saturday night at BC Place, the Vancouver Whitecaps surrendered the lead twice against DC United, eventually settling for a 2-2 draw. With three of the top teams in the West remaining on their schedule, the Whitecaps will surely be frustrated with their inability to close this match out, as they will need a good points haul over the final three fixtures to secure home playoff dates.

But how did the Whitecaps end up falling short of expectations on Saturday? Let’s dive into the player grades.

Yohei Takaoka – 4.5

Vancouver’s key off-season acquisition has picked a really bad time to start slumping. I wouldn’t be fair unless I pointed out the man has played a ton of matches, and that surely has taken its toll, but nonetheless, it’s simply not good enough at the moment. His pass to Blackmon on the first goal is never on, and while the second goal is a deflection, it wasn’t exactly hit with a ton of pace, and arrived well inside the post. I’m not saying he should have stopped it, but you’d like to see him get his fingers on it at least. As we discussed on the last Third Sub podcast, Takaoka is consistently a liability when it comes to set pieces and crosses, and that’s been true all season. That’s something you can live with, and play around, as long as his shot stopping and his work with the ball at his feet is strong. Right now he’s lost those parts of his game as well, which is tough. The Whitecaps simply need better from him to make a legitimate playoff run.

Tristan Blackmon – 5.5

I’m not going to put much of the first goal on Blackmon, even if he hadn’t slipped, Takaoka put him in a really tough position. Overall though, Blackmon has been a bit of an adventure since Richie Laryea joined the team. With the Canadian marauding up and down the wing, it has left Blackmon in some tricky spots, and he’s not looked 100% confident.

Ranko Veselinovic – 6.0

This Whitecaps team is weird right now where they often conceded multiple goals, but when you look at the overall defensive performance, it’s actually quite good. No one embodies this more than Ranko, who other than keeping the play onside for the first DC goal, was very steady in the middle of the back three. Together, the back three did quite a nice job limiting Benteke in the air, something I would have expected to be a real issue.

Javain Brown – 6.0

I like what I’ve seen from Javain since he’s come back from international duty. He’s been able to put in some quiet performances, which used to be a rarity as he was mostly either brilliant or awful. I think he may lock down that right side going forward unless he falls off.

Andres Cubas – 6.0

We’re still not seeing elite Cubas right now. He was 1 for 7 in his ground duels, and only 1 for 4 in his long balls in this match. Those are stats Cubas crushes when everything is clicking.

Sebastian Berhalter – 7.0

I thought the young American had a very solid match down the right flank. While the final product wasn’t quite there on his crosses, he was consistently positive both on and off the ball, winning duels, carrying the ball forward, and making progressive passes (2 key passes).

Richie Laryea – 6.5

This felt like a step in the right direction for Richie, he made a great run which led to the first goal, and was active down the left side. It’s still a bit sketchy defensively when he roams forward, and I’d like to see him involved a bit more at that end of the pitch, he was zeros across the board in terms of tackles, blocks, interceptions, and clearances.

Alessandro Schopf – 5.5

The Austrian is very rarely a liability, but he does not offer a lot either. This says it all really:

Pedro Vite – 7.0

I liked what I saw from Pedro on both sides of the ball in this match. He made a number of really sharp long passes, and he was stuck in defensively, winning a number of contested balls and showing off his work rate. I see no reason why he shouldn’t be starting match in match out going forward.

Ryan Gauld – 9.0

What more can you say about this man. He showed real grit by playing on a quick turnaround after he looked down for the count in Colorado. His trademark looping cross to the back post was perfect for White on the opening goal, and he was calm and collected over the penalty kick.

Brian White – 9.0

The Gold Boot race is on! White continues to find the back of the net, and his hustle is what created Vancouver’s second goal, earning the spot kick.

Substitutes – 6.5

It was cool to see Vancouver bring four Canadians off the bench in this match. After being scored on in the 62nd, Vancouver lulled for a 10-minute period and it was only when Sartini made some more drastic changes in the 72nd, bringing on Adekugbe and Hoilett, that Vancouver started to play positively once more. In general, it’s easy to wonder if Sartini should have pulled the trigger quicker with his final three changes, especially Ahmed, who only appeared in the 86th minute.

Vanni Sartini – 6.0

Unlike the last match, it felt like the game plan was correct in this one – at least in terms of their initial approach. They dealt with Benteke effectively, and created enough scoring opportunities from Gauld and White, as well as from wide areas. Ultimately, this was down to bad execution in some key moments, and a bit of bad luck. As noted above, if the subs had come on a bit quicker, perhaps the Whitecaps could have pushed for a third goal more effectively, so that’s the one area where Sartini fell a bit short.

Those were my thoughts from Saturday night at BC Place. Let me know yours in the comments!

11 thoughts on “Report Card: What’s going on with Takaoka?

  1. Agree that Tak looked bad but Blackmon continues to be a ? In my mind. He’s had some really strong performances but remember when he single-handedly lost the game against Seattle. That point could be much-needed by the time we’re done.

    Re: fan support and scheduling, Whitecaps were truly shafted Saturday, up against a Canucks game, but there was still a pretty good crowd. Given recent performance I think it’s fair to say casual fans are in “show me” mode.

    On the surface, adding the CanMNT players seems like a good idea but we’re only going as far as Gauld and White take us.

    Go Caps!

    1. The defence is as bad today as it was on day one. They need a coach that can teach them WHAT TO DO….TO MUCH STANDING IN SPACE NOT MARKING OPPONENTS.. they need to be taught the basics of defending…Laryea is terrible. He is selfish, holds the ball to long and has no vision. To many players lack touch. 6 to 10 yard passes are not difficult to complete…simple passing drills need to be incorporated in practice until they get it right.they have the players but lack a quality coach that can identify the little things and fix them…I am a 73 year old that was with the national team for a period in 1968…if I can see these problems every game I dont understand why none of the coaches can see them

  2. I’m a huge WCaps fan but it seems to me that the team is lost in this market.I hardly hear about them in the media, I hear about the BC Lions all the time.Its like these guys don’t even exist. Nothing is ever mentioned of the league..the Vancouver Province has no articles at all..the league is doing really well in most cities..they all have their own stadiums, great packed atmospheres, LAFC,St Louis, Cincinnati, Nashville, Austin Portland. etc etc –all fantastic…..attendance here has gone the other way —-for a great soccer city, it’s disheartening considering the fact that there are no major league sports teams here–MLB,NBA or NFL…and dont say hockey as it is lagging behind MLS now…would really like to see more interest generated by management

    1. Yeah, that lack of articles in the province is really strange to me, my parents have a subscription and I’ve been by a couple times and checked out the paper the day after a game and have been surprised to not see anything about the game there… the weird thing is that they have writers writing articles about them, you can see the articles about them online, but for some reason they don’t run them in the print editions? Instead there’s random NFL stuff and golf stuff, etc… I’m not sure if they ever do run it in the print editions and I’m just unlucky when I’ve been there or what, but it’s weird to me… they should get someone in touch with the province and see why they don’t print the articles

  3. just wondering how you tweak energy- but i think all the games from summer to the play-offs is wearing out the players and coaching staff- its a major problem for MLS

    part of the problem for the Caps is that BC Place has many special shows and they probably bring in more revenue, so the team gets bumped- this year it was September

    further, we get front-loaded with games in cold weather because its an indoor stadium

    give us another DP of Gauld’s level and salary for 2024 and its game-on for a much better season (no more wasted DP signings)

  4. Once again, the Caps are like to miss the playoffs. The MLS scheduling department absolutely screwed them with a 7 game road trip across half the continent, followed by games against the upper echelon of the West to close out the season. I think they’ll need 4 points from the remaining games to grab the last playoff and I don’t think they will pull it off. Hopefully I have it all wrong and they win out!

  5. Playing Cubas as a single holding mid with Berhalter out wide didn’t work. That left Takaoka with fewer options to play out of the back; DC had less field to cover and an easier time on the high press. That is the main reason for the first goal. Should have stayed with the tried and true formation with 3 backs, 2 holding midfielders 2 wing backs.

    It seemed like a fatigued team that was missing precision on progressive passes through the midfield.

    I expect to see the regular Whitecaps on Wednesday after a few days on home cooking, a few practices and a full tank of gas for the home stretch.

  6. It’s Takaoka or bust right now. The chance to play Boehmer has passed. Hevis strictly seen as an emergency/injury back up. He should have started one of the road games, at least, butbthat’s 20-20 hindsight.

Join the Conversation!