Post-Match Review #20– Vancouver Whitecaps FC vs LAFC: Drubbing at the “Banc”

Coming off a tough loss in Seattle last week, the Vancouver Whitecaps were looking to bounce back against league leaders LAFC in this one, as they made the trek down to the feared Banc of California stadium. Having won in the earlier meeting between these two teams, there was some confidence that they could do the same again, but those thoughts were quickly erased as the Caps fell under siege for most the night, losing 6-1. After a bright start, with Yordy Reyna pouncing on a terrible LAFC mistake to make it 1-0, there was optimism that the Caps could hold on, but eventually, LA took over, showing their class and making it one to forget for Vancouver. The first big loss for Marc Dos Santos, how they bounce back from this one will be huge, as they got a lot of big matches coming up, starting with Cavalry FC midweek in the Canadian Championship. Until then, they mourn this one, so here is how proceedings went down tonight.

Thoughts:

Match:

The Caps were under siege from the get-go, as LAFC came out strong, holding onto the ball nicely. Vancouver was unable to get much of a touch on the ball, and it already felt like it was going to be a long night for Vancouver. When Carlos Vela won an early free-kick and sent in a juicy whipped effort from 25 yards, which was nicely saved by Max Crepeau, it seemed like an ominous sign that the MLS league leaders were not here to play nice. 

But, despite only having 25% possession inside 5 minutes, the Whitecaps were able to turn the match completely on its head. An optimistic ball forward was seemingly headed to what appeared to be the safe foot of LA goalie Pablo Sisniega, but instead he and former Canadian international Dejan Jakovic had a bit of a mix-up, allowing Yordy Reyna to slip in behind and score his 4th of the season, as he slid the ball into an empty cage. It was a dream start for Vancouver, and it gave them the much-needed belief that they could actually find 3 points in the toughest stadium in the league to do so right now. 

It was certainly not going to be made easy for them, either, as LA redoubled their efforts after the embarrassing gaffe, pinning Vancouver deep into their half as they chased an equalizer. They continued to dominate possession, as the Caps could only sit back and absorb what LA was throwing at them, desperately getting the ball forward in the rare occasions they got to touch it. 

The Caps held strong, despite the many attempts at their goal, holding onto to their precarious lead. Despite all the possession by the home side, LA’s best chances after the goal came were not that threatening, with Lee Nguyen striking the ball right at Crepeau, Ada Diomande just heading over after a great cross from out left, and Canadian International Mark-Anthony Kaye hitting one just wide from distance, allowing the Caps to survive the first 20 minutes of the match with their lead intact. 

LA continued to knock on the door, however, with Dimoande coming really close with a great strike from distance, which was just deflected wide. On the subsequent cross, LA whipped the ball to the near post, but the header from Eduard Atuesta was just sent wide. Less than 30 seconds later, Diomande found himself all alone behind the Caps backline, but his (offside) shot was just saved by Crepeau, who was starting to put together a strong performance inside the first 25 minutes. 

Crepeau continued his strong match into the 26th minute, when Kaye had another crack from distance, slamming one that seemed destined for the top corner, before Crepeau flew in with a great stop, keeping the Caps lead unscathed. Even without having played in 3 weeks, “Mad Max” looked as great as ever, giving fans hope that the Caps could leave the “Banc” with all 3 points.

The onslaught continued, as Vancouver was unable to create much of a counter, as the midfield and strikers were not able to generate anything going forward. They got a bit lucky in the 32nd minute, as LAFC struck the bar from in tight off a Tristan Blackmon header, somehow allowing Vancouver to preserve their slim lead. 

All the pressure finally caught up to the Caps in the 35th minute, as LA broke through the White and Blue dam, scoring off a well-delivered Carlos Vela corner, with the ball appearing to go in off of Andy Rose for the own goal. While it was unlucky for Vancouver, it was completely merited for LAFC, who were so dominant the first 35. 

Vancouver started to show some signs of life after the goal, however, as they found some rare spells of posession. While they were unable to make much of it, it gave faint hope of another goal for the Vancouver outfit, as they were finally able to breach the LA half on a couple of occasions. 

But LA, as they do so well, continued to go for the Caps jugular, coming on strong. They continued to press hard, winning corner after corner. After seeing their first goal come off a corner, and how great the quality of service from Vela was, it seemed only a matter of time until their second goal came. 

And it came in the 43rd minute, as another Vela ball looped around everyone, somehow eluding Max Crepeau before finding Diomande back post, giving LA their first lead of the game. It was a tough mistake from Crepeau, but after all the work he had done it was understandable considering the time off he had, as his timing seemed completely off on the cross. For someone who is usually so reliable on those, it was a tough but acceptable mistake.  

It gave LA a completely merited scoreline, and it left a huge hole for Vancouver to climb out of, as they looked completely unable to create anything against the staunch LAFC midfield. They were lucky to head into the half only down 1, leaving them a faint chance to find a comeback, provided they could find some changes at half time.

Things did not get much better for Vancouver in the second half, however, as LA quickly added to their lead. Kaye got open at the top of the box, and he made no mistake, slamming the ball off the crossbar and in with his left foot, scoring what was a great contender for MLS goal of the week. It was a great strike, but another dagger in the heart of the Whitecaps, as the Canadian continued his great form. 

But, chasing a goal, Reyna found some fire. Firstly it was a bit poorly harnessed, as he unnecessarily fouled Kaye, earning a yellow. He found a way to channel it properly soon after though, as a fiery run nearly ended with a goal, as he struck well from distance. 

The Caps came close on the ensuing corner, with a great ball whipped into the six-yard box, where Jake Nerwinski looking like he was fouled, right before Andy Rose nearly scored a great goal himself, striking the ball just wide. VAR had a look at the Nerwinski foul, but ultimately decided it was not worth the review, letting the game continue without stoppage. 

The rain continued to pour down on Vancouver, at least metaphorically, as LAFC picked up their 4th in the 55th minute. Carlos Vela came in on a break 1-on-1 with Brett Levis, and the favourite to win the MLS MVP award did not disappoint his LA faithful, cutting in and finding the back of the net, albeit via a Doneil Henry deflection. It continued the rout for LA, and it was painful for the Caps supporters, as Vancouver was barely seeing much of the ball for their troubles, making it a frustrating evening both offensively and defensively. 

LAFC continued to dominate after, and it was a miracle the Caps survived until the 69th minute without conceding, as LA pounded shot after shot at Crepeau. He made some nice saves, keeping the score at 4-1, including a great kick stop off of Rodolfo Zelaya that nearly caught him sleeping at the near post. 

But then LA struck again, as an attacking move pinned Vancouver deep once more, where the MLS league-leading scorer Vela added another one, nodding home the ball after a great Crepeau save off of Kaye, bringing his tally to 19 on the season. 

The onslaught continued, as LA continued to hem Vancouver into their end, with the Caps unable to do as much as breach the LA half line. LAFC got the ball into the Vancouver box in the 75th minute, getting a few strikes at goal before young Uruguyan star Diego Rossi found himself open at the penalty spot, and he made no mistake, getting the ball just in off the bar, with Goal Line Technology just confirming the goal after the referee was unable to determine if it was legal or not.  

Things quieted down on the goal front after that, as LAFC came close on a few occasions but ultimately were unable to add to their total. Despite that, things continued to get worse for Vancouver, as Fredy Montero got sent off in the 86th minute, as he put in a high challenge on Kaye, earning a much-deserved red. Montero rarely shows frustration, but the lack of service surely had to get to him, as the Caps were barely able to cross the half line most of the match. 

The match finished without much more excitement, mercifully ending the match for Vancouver. Completely outclassed, they will have a lot to work out this coming week, with a pair of stiff tests looming, first with Cavalry in the Canadian Championship midweek, and secondly in MLS play, when Kansas City makes a visit to BC Place next Saturday in what will not be an easy game for the White and Blue. 

Performances:

Max Crepeau started out bright for Vancouver, keeping their 1-0 lead intact early. He was unluckily beat on the first goal, before getting caught out on the second. After that, it was lots of bad luck for the Canadian, who did what he could on the other goals. It was a forgettable return from the Gold Cup for him, and you know he’ll come out strong for his next outing, as he has a fiercely competitive side that will push him forward, no matter how unlucky he was in the match. 

It was one to forget for the backline, who was under siege all night from LA. Godoy, Henry and Rose were pressed back, defending way too deep, and it seemed a matter of time until they conceded. They could have used some more support from the midfield, but LA was completely overrunning the Caps in that department, allowing them to toy with Vancouver defenders until they were able to create shots. Overall, not the greatest performance this season from the back 3, but a lot of the trouble stemmed from a team-wide issue. 

At full back, Jake Nerwinski and Brett Levis were largely anonymous, with Levis lone memorable moment coming when Vela cut in on him and scored the 4th goal. While they were put in a rather unfavourable position, they didn’t do much with what they had either, making this one to forget for both lads. 

In the middle, it was a struggle for Jon Erice, Hwang and Russell Teibert, who were dominated by LA going both ways, unable to generate offence as well as unable to stem the tide defensively.  It reinforced the Caps need for a dynamic midfielder, as Vancouver needed a spark to liven things up, instead of just submitting themselves to what LAFC was doing. 

Up top, Yordy Reyna had a decent game, scoring the lone goal and pressing decently, despite not really getting the ball at all. He was probably the lone Caps player that could feel somewhat adequate with his performance, as he looked good in the limited occasions in which he was able to touch the ball. Beside him, Lucas Venuto was anonymous, not contributing much negatively nor positively, rarely threatening LA’s backline but pressing decently. 

Off the bench, Fredy Montero, Theo Bair and PC came in, with Bair and PC performing decently enough, despite not getting on the ball much. They entered much too late to have much of a difference but didn’t offer that much to suggest they deserved to start either. Bair should probably start against Cavalry, as he has slowly been improving, but this game was definitely not the greatest time to have him in, as he barely got a chance to get involved in the action. Montero was anonymous as well, and got way too frustrated about it, lashing out and receiving a deserved red, ending his night early. It was another forgettable performance for the Colombian, as he looked completely off once again. With Ardaiz, not Montero, getting bought down to fit in Adnan, people are starting to suspect that Montero could be soon on the move, especially with the rumours of a new Caps striker coming in. 

Overall, shocking performance from the Caps, and not much to write home about. It should give them plenty of incentive heading into Calgary for the Canadian Champ, as they desperately need to keep their season on the rails. Despite staying in the playoff race all season, they have played more games than everyone else, so all these losses are just further complicating what is as of now some very slim postseason hopes for them. 

Man of the Match: Yordy Reyna

Hard to give out a Man of the Match in these circumstances, but Reyna did well enough to be bestowed this honour for today. As mentioned, he was lively when on the ball, just lacking any semblance of support offensively. He looks to be a permanent fixture in MDS’s striking duo as of now, it’s just time to figure out who is going to partner him in the future.  

BTSVancity Player of the Watch: Max Crepeau

Crepeau had a solid match, really just messing up bad on the second goal. On the rest, he wasn’t really at fault, as there were some weird bounces and poor defending, as the Caps were often unable to clear the ball. He still made some great saves despite that and will be more than hungry to pick up a win next week against Kansas. Just was one of those nights for him….

Tweet of the Match:

The Caps offensive night summed up well by our friends over at 86Forever. Hopefully that kind of attacking display never happens again, yikes. The Caps only offensive action in the first half was their goal, which they were gifted, marking this one as a game to forget. Things werent much better in the second half, either, so there will be a lot to improve upon come Wednesday and Saturday. 

Stat of the Match:

Not much of a specific stat, per say, but the counting stats in general sum up what was a terrible night for the Caps. Dominated in every facet of the game, it was by far the worst performance in the Marc Dos Santos era. This should be a one-off, as it was only Vancouver’s second loss by more than a goal this season, but man was it ever painful to witness. 

Frustration Moment: 

Terrible from Montero. It was obviously a frustrating match for the striker, as the Caps couldn’t get the ball forward, but there was no reason to go in so high that late in a drubbing. While he has looked good of late, this will not do much to win over an already frustrated fanbase, with many ready to already move on after a half-season. Who knows, maybe this becomes his wake-up call for the rest of the season, or for all we know we have seen the last of the Colombian in a hoop kit this season. Will be an interesting one to monitor, as he has already lived through a rough start to the season before his recent good form. 

Looking Forward: 

A little more condensed review than usual, but it’s probably for the best after that one. Vancouver was outplayed top to bottom and considering they nearly had a full team, that’s scary. Obviously, a player like Adnan would have helped a lot, but getting beat this bad is a big hit for anyone hoping for any sort of playoff success this season, as they would likely face a team like LAFC early, if they were to grind their way in as a low seed. 

They get right back at it Wednesday, against Cavalry, so it will be interesting to see who they come out with for that one, considering Dos Santos’s ambitions to win the competition, as well as the frustration carrying over from this match. Expect the Caps to go for the jugular in that one, with the Canadian Cup, and the Champions League berth it brings along with it, making it look so valuable for a Vancouver squad in need of a lift. 

Vancouver Whitecaps FC vs Cavalry FC, July 10th, 2019, 18:30 PST, Spruce Meadows, Calgary 

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