After a quick turn around from the match in Montreal, the Whitecaps were back home on the last day of August 2019 for a match against New York City FC. Not much was at stake for the Whitecaps in terms of the league, but the 17,512 fans in attendance were hoping for a pleasant surprise for a Whitecaps team which was definitely not favoured to come away with a win in this one, as the opponent was NYCFC, one of the best teams in the MLS at the moment. They went back to the 4-3-2-1 Christmas tree formation, which Marc deemed as an appropriate plan for a NYCFC side who play much of their football through the middle of the park.
The Whitecaps seemed to be struggling to keep possession of the ball in the early minutes of this one, and things didn’t start off too well with a sloppy giveaway from Jon Erice, which resulted in the Whitecaps defenders getting caught in no man’s land, and having no answer to the strike of the boot from NYCFC’s Héber.
‘Caps fullback Jake Nerwinski got injured and substituted for Scott Sutter, and Marc Dos Santos updated media that Nerwinski was in a boot after the match, which is bad news for Whitecaps fans. Hopefully this injury will be nothing too serious, as Jake Nerwinski has been the main option at right back for the ‘Caps this season, and would be a shame to lose him due to injury.
The ‘Caps then had a swing of momentum, leading to some decent shots from Inbeom Hwang and Fredy Montero, which were close to rippling the netting. The ‘Caps conceded again in the 25th due to a nice NYCFC through ball, and Crépeau got a bit unlucky about saving it. The ‘Caps got close to conceding again, as a shot hit the post. Luckily the shot didn’t get converted, because a 3 goal deficit would have been a tough mountain to climb for the Whitecaps. It was looking like men against boys after 30 minutes.
There seemed to be a big loss of motivation for the Whitecaps, and fans saw Ali Adnan walking around after playing a pass – not the body language you want to see as a fan. Things were looking like they were going to be turned around as a penalty was awarded to the blue and white as New York goalkeeper Sean Johnson seemingly took down Tosaint Ricketts in the box, but the call was sent to be reviewed through VAR, and the call was shortly later over-ridden, to the obvious discontent of fans, players, and staff. Not that this call was necessarily the thing to bother everyone, but the misfortune the Whitecaps have had with VAR over the entirety of the season seemed to culminate in this moment. 2 members of the Whitecaps staff were ejected from the match, and as they were leaving the pitch they tried to rile up the crowd, and get the fans to use their frustration as a source of motivation to fuel the fire. Fans roared, and then fans got restless during an uninspiring 8 minutes of extra time after the VAR shenanigans.
The Whitecaps continued their trend of coming flying out of the gates for the start of the 2nd half. Michael Chirinos got his home debut as he was subbed in for Jon Erice, which may have been because Erice had an underwhelming first half, or because the ‘Caps were looking for more attacking flair. The ‘Caps began to have having some chances. A nice Russell Tiebert attempt, a decent Chirinos effort, a beautifully elegant Fredy Montero bicycle kick, and nice shots from Inbeom Hwang and Fredy Montero, many of which had the goalkeeper working hard to keep the ball out of the net.
All of these chances culminated in a Yordy Reyna golazo, which surely got the fans on their feet. It was a terrific finish from a tight angle, and credit also had to be given to Tosaint Ricketts for staying on his feed through a tackle and executing a great assist to the Peruvian. At this point, the momentum was going the way of the Whitecaps, and fans were probably feeling like the Whitecaps may have a way back into this one.
But not for long. NYCFC’s Mitria scored a great FK from far out, although Max Crépeau probably should have been there to save it. The mood switched in BC Place from the feeling of a potential hopeful comeback, to the feeling of no way back in to this match. The match seemed to fizzle out from there, with nothing too notable other than a few substitutions and yellow cards.
The match ended with a scoreline of 3-1 for New York, and with this loss the Whitecaps are officially and mathematically out of playoff contention.
Man of the Match: Yordy Reyna
Yordy Reyna was definitely the most lively of the ‘Caps today. He seemed to be buzzing all over the pitch, making darting runs with the ball, and was very positive in possession. His goal in this match was his 7th of the season, which means he is now the Whitecaps’ top scorer, with 1 more goal than his fellow teammate Fredy Montero. Yordy was one of the biggest positives from this match, and he has also been a big influencer for much of the season. Hopefully the Whitecaps will be able to retain him over the off-season, and have him as a Whitecap for the 2020 season.
BTSVancity Player to Watch : Ali Adnan
Ali Adnan seemed to be lacking energy today. He was looking lethargic through much of the game, and his body language was not great either. Often times when a call is unfavourable for the Whitecaps, you’ll see Ali Adnan flailing his arms and complaining to the officials. It’s great to see passion for the game, but at what point does this passion towards unfavourable officiating become harmful to the team’s mentality, and start rubbing off on the other players? Perhaps when seeing Ali Adnan frustrated, the other players get frustrated, and begin performing as if the match is not in their control due to officiating. In any case, Ali Adnan will be one to watch for the rest of the season. He was performing extremely well before his contract extension, but it looks as if he has been falling off after it. Can he get back to the level of his Whitecaps prime before the end of the season?
With the Whitecaps now officially out of playoff contention, and no relegation system in this league, there is really not much left to play for. The Whitecaps will have a nice 2 week break from matches during the International break with their next game not until September 14th against the Houston Dynamo. The Canadians will be hard at work with two fixtures against Cuba, so make sure to look out for those two matches, as well as the Whitecaps match at home on September 14th.