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:
Alessandro Schopf play an incisive pass in transition challenge: Impossible. #vwfc
— Caleb Wilkins (@wilkins_caleb24) October 1, 2023
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!