Good Monday morning Caps fans, hope you all had a relaxing weekend and that your blood pressure only rose a little bit at the Whitecaps’ playoff defeat on Saturday.
It wasn’t necessarily that Vancouver lost 5-2 to LAFC to dig themselves in a hole for their best-of-three series but it was how they did so: a series of utterly predictably capitulations on set pieces that effectively gifted the game to LA.
Vancouver has been bad at defending set pieces all year, we all know this. Statistically, the only team that is worse at doing so is Inter Miami (the one thing Messi can’t really do). And the fact that this issue has been allowed to linger unaddressed is borderline criminal. This is in part on Vanni Sartini for sticking with a zonal marking system on set pieces that is infuriating and for sticking with a centerback trio who has not been especially effective in the air (aside from Ranko Veselinovic).
But at some point the players need to step up as well. Some of the errors were not even down to zonal marking but the Caps’ players simply letting LAFC be the first to respond, not closing down and not attempting to clear the ball. Not great, Bob.
What makes it even more frustrating is that, aside from this crucial area, the Caps were quite competitive for the first half, coming back to level things twice and causing their own problems for LAFC in the air and forcing their backline into chaos. This was a match that could have been there for the taking but, alas, it wasn’t.
The 5-2 scoreline has no material impact on the state of the series; it is functionally the same as if the game had ended 0-0 and LAFC won on penalties. But the psychological blow that comes from conceding five goals to a team that also had Vancouver’s number in another knockout competition is not inconsiderable.
Vancouver played the first hour of the match with the sincere belief that they could win, that they deserved to win and that they were the better team. Possibly some of this seeped over into the set piece problems but this is exactly the type of mentality they will need at BC Place to level this series up. Fans will deservedly be frustrated with Saturday’s performance but they too will need to have short memories — there will be plenty of time for post-mortems when the season is over but for now, the focus will be on Sunday.
Shameless Self Promotion
If you missed any of the action on Saturday (and you may count yourself lucky if so), we get you caught up in our match recap.
Best of the Rest
After Saturday, the Whitecaps have suddenly found themselves to be very big fans of the new playoff format
In the shock result of the first round, Sporting KC rose to the derby environment and battered St. Louis City SC 4-1 on the road
After trading a series of increasing incredible goals, Forge outlasted Cavalry in the Canadian Premier League final in the most dramatic championship game yet
Meanwhile at the international level, Brazil scored late to edge out the Canadian Women’s National Team