The Vancouver Whitecaps 2019 season took another hit on Wednesday, as they bowed meekly out of the Canadian Championship in the third round, failing to reach the semi-finals in that competition for the first time ever, falling 2-1 to a powerful Cavalry side.
While it was expected that playing a Canadian Premier League side at home could provide a boost for Marc Dos Santos’s men, winless since May in all competitions, it instead just compiled more misery for a team struggling to both score and keep balls out of the net.
“It was a night that I feel that we could have stayed out there for another two hours and it would have been difficult to score” Coach Marc Dos Santos said post-match.
“We were the better team, more possession, more in their half, pushed, created, but we missed some empty goals that were almost difficult to miss. When those balls don’t go your way, it feels like everything is piling on”
Things started out fast and furious on the pitch, with both teams coming out hard, as furious tackles were being thrown by both sides.
But, despite the Caps controlling the early run of play, Cavalry found the first goal in the 7th, as their number 9, Jordan Brown, found himself chasing a probing long ball after a poor Ali Adnan turnover, which ended up in between Doneil Henry and Erik Godoy, bouncing up for Brown to volley, and he made no mistake with the strike, firing home the opener and silencing the already sparse BC Place crowd. With the goal, it meant that Vancouver would now need two goals to advance, making an already daunting task seem impossible.
The Caps would get a chance to equalize soon after, but Erik Godoy sent Ali Adnan’s beautifully curled corner right over the bar, as he got under the ball from close range, keeping the game at 1-0.
Vancouver continued to knock on the door during the second half, with the insertion of Joaquin Ardaiz injecting some much-needed life into the team up front. After a lengthy break for an injury to Cavalry’s Jose Escalante, the Caps found some life, as Ardaiz latched onto a failed clearance after a dangerous Ali Adnan cross, but he sent the ball well wide off the volley.
The Caps found a goal out of seemingly nowhere in the 67th minute, as Hwang In Beom found the ball in space at the top of the box after Theo Bair’s shot was blocked in tight, and the South Korean international made no mistake, slotting the ball past Marco Carducci, with a deflection playing a helping hand in getting the South Korean his second goal in Caps colours.
Vancouver looked motivated for a short spell, but it was short-lived, as Cavalry would take the lead once again in the 70th minute, as former WFC2 defender Dominick Zator rose at the back post off a corner, nodding home what appeared to be Cavalry’s ticket to the next round, with the Caps once again falling into a 2 goal hole thanks to Cavalry’s away goals. The Caps were getting outworked by their CPL counterparts, and it showed.
“Sometimes it’s desire, and sometimes it’s profile,” Marc Dos Santos said of his team’s mentality. “Maybe it’s the profile of the guys we have right now”
Despite some late chances to try and make the game interesting, including a shocking miss from Yordy Reyna in the 75th minute after a Carducci turnover, and a curling Hwang strike that just struck the outside of the goal in the 80th, the Caps were unable to find the goals they would need, as they would end up falling short by the end of the 90. It leaves many questions to be asked about the Caps, as they looked listless and unable to deliver in the key moments, falling short to a team that didn’t exist half a year ago.
“I don’t want to share too much, and I hope you guys understand that,” Dos Santos said. “We’re a young team, and I feel like in key moments we need to be more mature”
Fans were understandably restless by the time the final whistle blew, as the curtains closed on their Canadian Championship campaign, erasing all hopes of qualifying for the CONCACAF Champions League. With their league campaign also on the brink of extinction, it leaves Dos Santos and company searching for answers heading into the last 12 or so matches.
The first step to getting there is Saturday, with a stiff test in Minnesota awaiting them. With their club identity in tatters, players looking demotivated and no big saviour on the horizon, it’s up to Dos Santos and his crew to start building out of this hole.
“We as a club have to decide what we want to be one day,” Dos Santos said.
“I’m very motivated for the Minnesota game. I think it’s very personal, you have to read who the players are that are willing to get the club out of this, who are the players who are willing to sacrifice and take the next step”
Up Next: Vancouver Whitecaps FC vs Minnesota United FC (July 27th, 2019) Allianz Field