The Vancouver Whitecaps fell to the Seattle Sounders by a score of 3-0 in their 2nd game of MLS is Back on Sunday. Here is our match report from that one, as we look at the game that was down in Orlando.
Sometimes in MLS, the big players can make a big difference.
Unfortunately for the Vancouver Whitecaps, that was only true in the case of the Seattle Sounders on Sunday, as their big 3 of Jordan Morris, Nicolas Lodeiro and Raul Ruidiaz each scored en route to an easy 3-0 victory over Vancouver in MLS is Back Group B action.
It’s a story that has often repeated itself when the ‘Caps and the Sounders have met over these past few years, as Seattle has what is now a 9 game unbeaten streak over their Cascadian rivals, with their stars often making the big difference in those games.
For Vancouver, it was a tough way to continue their MLS is Back tournament, as they not only lost on the scoreboard, but much like the past few weeks, they lost off the pitch as well, as it looks like that they may have lost star goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau for the near future due to a second-half injury.
When you compare the performance to the ‘Caps opening match 4-3 loss against the San Jose Earthquakes, there were things that Vancouver did a lot better, such as control the ball more, but they were unable to penetrate the final third at all, and were equally as shaky at the back, which was reflected in the 3-0 scoreline.
With only 1 game to go, in which their tournament hopes will hinge on the balance, they don’t have much time to figure out their woes, as they continue and try to manage what has quickly turned into a tough couple of weeks for the team.
The Sounders sent an early warning to the Whitecaps on Sunday, as they got in behind their defence in the 3rd minute, but Handwalla Bwana’s eventual finish was ruled offside, as Jordan Morris was deemed to be too far behind in the leadup to the goal.
Soon after, Morris would try to atone for his earlier offside, as he got in behind Jhesser Khmiri and volleyed a dangerous strike towards goal, but Maxime Crepeau did well to stop the shot. The rebound was not controlled, however, and the ball rolled right out to Nico Lodeiro, with a gaping cage, but Jake Nerwinski slid in and made an outrageous block on the noted ‘Caps killer, keeping the game tied at 0.
That Seattle pressure would pay off in the 15th minute, though, as soon after Leonard Owusu nodded a header just wide at the other end, Morris sent in a dangerous curling shot towards the ‘Caps goal, which would be blocked by Khmiri’s hand, giving Seattle a spot-kick. Lodeiro then stepped up to take it, and he slotted home carefully to Crepeau’s right to give the Sounders an early lead.
From there, both teams would exchange a pair of harmless chances, as David Milinkovic stung Stefan Frei’s gloves with a hard but central left-footed strike in the 20th minute, before Morris continued his strong half by sending a low strike just wide to Crepeau’s left in the 25th.
Morris’s presence would continue to cause problems for Vancouver, and it paid off once again in the 35th minute.
Raul Ruidiaz and Nico Lodeiro did well to dress Leonard Owusu into making a turnover in Vancouver’s half, before Lodeiro played Morris in over the top, giving the American the time and space to calmly slot in Seattle’s second.
There would be no further action by the time the referee blew for half time, marking the end of a busy half for both teams, even though it was maybe for the wrong reasons in the case of the ‘Caps.
Surprisingly, Vancouver had actually controlled the balance of play, as they had more possession, passes and touches, but Seattle had destroyed them on the counter-attack, giving them a big advantage in shots, chances and most importantly, goals.
If Vancouver was to have any hope of getting back into the game, they needed to get into the final 3rd more, while also keeping the Sounders in check on the counter, which was certainly no easy task if the first 45 minutes were any indication.
But unfortunately for them, they were unable to fulfill the 2nd part of the equation, as less than 7 minutes into the 2nd half, the Sounders added a third. On a corner, Bwana did well to flick a nice Lodeiro ball in from Crepeau’s right, and Ruidiaz did well to poach at the back post, giving the Sounders their third goal of the night
And things would only get worse for the ‘Caps. In the 55th minute, Max Crepeau’s wrist took a nasty stamp from Bwana, and he would be unable to continue, forcing the 21-year-old Thomas Hasal to make his MLS debut.
Despite the tough conditions in which he had to start, he would start off with a bang, however, as he made a nice double save on Ruidiaz and Lodeiro after a tough Jake Nerwinski turnover to keep the ‘Caps alive, marking a strong start to his MLS career.
After that, the game would settle into a lull, as the Sounders seemed content with the result as it stood. The ‘Caps tried to change that, but they couldn’t test Frei in his goal, with their best chance probably being a Yordy Reyna shot that sailed hopelessly over in the 84th minute.
Theo Bair came close in the 90th minute, as he nodded a looping header towards goal, but Frei tipped it just over the bar, keeping things at 0. Reyna also came close again soon after, as he sent a dangerous set-piece from out wide, but his shot simmered just over the bar.
Ultimately, that would be all that the game would have to offer, as neither team would muster much up more in terms of chances for the rest of the game.
For Vancouver, it was a tough loss, as they ultimately were just never able to truly threaten the Sounders defensively throughout the 90 minutes. Combined with Seattle’s ability to make things happen in transition, it was a tough recipe for the ‘Caps to handle, and that showed in the score.
They haven’t played that bad over the course of these first 2 games at MLS is Back, at least when looking at the big picture, but they’ve just been unable to take over extended stretches of play so far, and that’s been reflected in the scorelines.
Without a doubt, they could use some of the players that they’re missing, as depth certainly has been an issue, but one would have thought that they’d have done better than this, but alas, they’ve just been unable to be clinical in the big moments, at both ends of the pitch.
Luckily, thanks to the tournament format, they have all to play for on Thursday, but if these first 2 games are anything to go off of, they’ve got some polishing to do if they’re to hope to progress with a big win over the Fire in their 3rd game.
Man of the Match: Thomas Hasal
(HM: Jake Nerwinski, Hwang In Beom, Cristian Dajome)
It’s hard to pick a man of the match like this, as it felt like there were lots of individual flashes but no clear standout for Vancouver, who struggled in the key areas of the pitch.
So our Man of the Match award goes to Hasal, who kept a clean sheet in 40 minutes of action replacing Crepeau, marking a really solid MLS debut for the Saskatoon native. He showed that he can be commanding of his back 4, but also be calm and cool in his goal, making him look like a 10 year veteran of the league.
If Crepeau is indeed out for the tournament, which his initial reaction certainly gave us an inkling towards being the case, having a solid performance from Hasal in the last game is going to be huge if the ‘Caps are going to have any chance to advance.
Based on what we saw today, he can deliver that, slightly softening the catastrophic blow that losing Crepeau would be for Vancouver.
BTSVancity Player to Watch: Russell Teibert
We picked Teibert as our player to watch today, and he quickly lived up to that moniker, as he was surprisingly selected to start out at left wing, which was certainly a throwback to his earlier MLS days.
He wasn’t bad out on the wing, but you could tell he was missing playing in the middle, as he looked livelier when put back into the heart of midfield
As indicated by his 2 key passes, 85% pass percentage and 1 interception, it was a solid ‘Teibert-esque’ performance, as he wasn’t flashy, but he wasn’t a liability, either, which is a big improvement from an uncharacteristically quiet game on Wednesday.
Stat of the Match:
To give an idea of how the ‘Caps fared, this tweet from Caleb sums up what Whoscored thought of them, as their rating system wasn’t too kind on their players.
They aren’t wrong, as it felt like a game where no particular individual was dominating the match, but boy is it tough to see it in writing like that.
Heatmap of the Match:
After being aghast by the ghost that was the Whitecaps heat map against the ‘Quakes, we must give credit where credit is due: this is better.
Yes, there is a giant hole around Frei’s goal, but it’s progress, and you do hope that when someone like Lucas Cavallini is on the pitch, that changes.
Now we’ll see if that changes without him, as the ‘Caps still have at least one more game in Orlando, this upcoming Thursday.
Best pre-game banter:
The Whitecaps brought the heat with their pre-game social media banter, as their use of the Bernie Sanders meme quickly got fans around the league chuckling, with the ‘Caps electing to go for the self-aware humour.
Best post-game banter:
But as funny as the ‘Caps banter was, they set themselves up to get dunked on, and in a jump of Larry Nance Jr-esque proportions, the Sounders did just that after the game, posting an edited clip of Sanders, which mocks Vancouver with just the right amount of sass and snarl.
Score another point to the Sounders for that one, unfortunately…
The ‘Caps wrap up their group stage portion of the MLS is Back tournament on Thursday, at the ripe time of 6:00 AM, which will certainly be daunting for some supporters after this result.
Thanks to a forgiving tournament format, they’re still alive, but it’s going to take a big match, which based on what we’ve seen so far, is going to take a lot of work in order to conjure up.
There have been flashes, but not enough to grab 3 points, which is what they’re going to need at the bare minimum to even have a chance at advancing on Thursday.
If they can find their offence from Wednesday, while showing some of the defensive spine that they showed back in March against the Galaxy, there can be hope for them, but we’ll have to see that over the course of 90 minutes on Thursday for that to happen.
At the very least, hopefully they can show some growth, as they try to show that what has happened so far isn’t indicative of what Marc Dos Santos and Axel Schuster are building long-term for the ‘Caps.
Up next: Vancouver Whitecaps FC vs Chicago Fire FC, Thursday, July 23rd, 6:00AM
Cover Photo: Matthew Stith/MLS