It was a rare afternoon kickoff in Vancouver, and MLS Decision Day was raging around the league, with all the teams playing at the same time (for added drama). 18,378 people made their way to BC Place to see the Whitecaps last match of the season against Real Salt Lake. Not much was on the line for the ‘Caps, but the stakes were higher for RSL – a win would help them secure a home game in the playoffs.
Things started off well for the ‘Caps, as Ali Adnan got elbowed in the face which granted the ‘Caps an early deep free kick. Ali Adnan whipped it in well with pace and the ball reached the head of Tosaint Ricketts, who almost gave the ‘Caps an early lead. The ball was saved by the one and only Nick Rimando Between the Sticks™ for RSL, who today was playing his last regular season MLS game.
Rimando is a legend of the game in MLS. He holds the MLS record for career shutouts, wins, saves and appearances, and at the age of 40, he’s been playing in the MLS for 19 years, since 2000. Many regard him as the best goalkeeper to ever play in MLS.
Then, the ‘Caps conceded, which had them down 1-0, to a header from RSL’s Damir Kreilach in the 28th minute. The Whitecaps were lucky to dodge numerous bullets late in the second half, and were lucky to not fall down 2-0, which would have been a tough deficit to recover from. They kept it to 1-0, which kept them in the match, and set up what was sure to be an interesting second half.
In the 47th minute, Ali Adnan took a blistering shot at net, but he couldn’t convert. An incredible chance for the ‘Caps came as a ball was crossed in from Theo Bair, and a back post header from Michael Chirinos was met from a flying Nick Rimando, who seemingly rolled back the years with an acrobatic save.
In the 60th minute, the Whitecaps made not one but 2 substitutions, opting to bring in Yordy Reyna and Fredy Montero in for Theo Bair and Tosaint Ricketts. 8 minutes later, Michaell Chirinos had a massive opportunity thanks to a great run down the left flank from Yordy Reyna. He hit it far post low, but somehow Nick Rimando got fingertips to it, which was just enough to help it onto the inside of the post instead of into the back of the net.
In the 81st minute, we saw Georges Mukumbilwa make his MLS debut. In the end, the Whitecaps couldn’t pull anything back, and had to end their 2019 campaign with a loss.
Seeing Erik Godoy at right back was a different look for ‘Caps fans, and definitely something interesting to consider. Godoy looked pretty comfortable at right back, and seeing him getting forward was was an odd sight after seeing him at centre back in the past. Since he may be less inclined to go forward than Ali Adnan, having Godoy stay back with the centre backs when Ali bombs forward could be a decent option for the ‘Caps, although many would probably argue that he’s best used as a centre back.
Theo Bair didn’t play his best match – surely he’s more useful as a striker instead of a winger. As a striker, Theo is able to cause chaos as a target man with wingers making runs off of the side of him, and playing on the wing likely limits his effectiveness. Elsewhere, Inbeom, Teibert and Rose all performed well in the middle of the park.
The standout performances today came from Yordy Reyna and Michaell Chirinos. Reyna has been consistently amongst the most effective players this season – always causing trouble to the other team’s backline. Hopefully the Whitecaps will be able to retain him this offseason.
BTSVancity Player(s) to Watch + BTS Man of the Match: Michaell Chirinos
Michaell Chirinos was our BTS Player to Watch. We watched, he delivered, and he comes away with the BTS Man of the Match award. Having the chance to play the full 90 minutes, Chirinos had a big opportunity to show the fans and the coaches what he’s really made of. He showed everyone his dribbling + passing skills, his speed on the wing, and even his heading ability(!). One standout moment came from a run down the right side of the pitch, and it was probably the Whitecaps’ best chance of the match. If it weren’t from a superhuman Nick Rimando save, it would have equalized the match at 1-1. We will keep an eye on Chirinos over the offseason, and the ‘Caps will be sure to consider keeping him around for next season.
That’s all for now, ‘Caps fans. Look out for our season recap articles, and we’ll be sure to keep you updated on everything Whitecaps over the offseason, and we will look forward to next season! Thank you for all your support.