The Vancouver Whitecaps’ playoff chances took a big blow on Wednesday.
Three points back of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference with three matches to play, they desperately needed a win. Playing at home against a tough opponent, Sporting Kansas City, it looked like they might get it.
Felipe scored the first goal of the match in the 42nd minute, giving the Whitecaps a 1-0 advantage heading into halftime.
Then the wheels fell off.
Sporting scored in the 62nd minute to level the match, then got another goal 20 minutes later to take the lead. Instead of pressing for the equalizer, the Whitecaps floundered. They gave up two more goals in added time, losing 4-1.
Striker Kei Kamara, who has been a bright light for the Whitecaps this season, was issued a red card after the final whistle. His undisciplined act will result in a one-game suspension.
Officially Kei Kamara’s Red was for grabbing Johnny Russel’s throat after full time. Needless to say, that lad got under the Whitecaps skin this season.
— Peter Schaad (@PeteSchaad) October 18, 2018
After the match, the Whitecaps’ longest-tenured player apologized for his team’s performance.
An emotional Russell Teibert, who has been with the Whitecaps since their inaugural MLS season in 2011, poured his heart out in the post-game media conference.
“I’ve been a part of this team for quite some time now. This is the first time I want to apologize to the fans and to the people at this club because they don’t deserve what they just saw,” said the Canadian midfielder.
“That was a team that gave in, and that’s not what we’re about here. I want to apologize on behalf of the team, to the people who came to watch, to the people who supported us. That’s not what this team is about.”
Teibert showed leadership in his words, as well as his play. He was the only player hustling back, trying to prevent Kansas City’s fourth goal.
Russell Teibert, busting his ass to get back and try to prevent a goal in the 97th minute with the game already over.
— Farhan Devji (@farhandevji) October 18, 2018
“We’re fortunate that we have two games left and we still have a shot. All of us, the entire locker room, we all need to take a long hard look at ourselves in the mirror and figure what it is, who it is, and what we’re playing for.
“The end of that game, that’s disappointing. Disappointing for us, disappointing for you guys, for the people who support us. It’s unacceptable.”
— Mike Martignago (@MikeMartignago) October 18, 2018
“That being said, we have two games to go. Mathematically, we still have a chance, but they’re two tough games. We know we need to turn that around because the way we ended this game, that can’t happen again. I want to promise you guys that won’t happen again. You won’t see a team that gives up. We’re going to finish the season strong. It’s not part of our makeup to give up, and that team gave up.
“We gave up, and it’s unacceptable.
“So if you want me to give you an answer for why things happened the way they did, I can’t. Sometimes, things cannot be explained.
“But I’m telling you, now is a promise, that’s not going to happen again here at this club.”
Should also know that Teibert wasn’t requested by the media. We were told he was coming into the room. Just speculation but it feels like he asked to address everyone after what he saw on the pitch. #VWFC
— Steve Pandher (@whitecapsbeat) October 18, 2018
It’s been a weird finish to the season for the Whitecaps, who are still in contention for the playoffs if they can string together a pair of wins. The problem is, they don’t have the look of a team that’s capable of it.
The timing of the decision to fire head coach Carl Robinson was unusual. The move, which was criticized by captain Kendall Waston, hasn’t improved their fortunes on the pitch. The Whitecaps have lost two of three matches under interim coach Craig Dalrymple, being outscored 8-3.
With Alphonso Davies and Kendall Waston unavailable due to commitments with their national teams, the Whitecaps were shorthanded on Wednesday. But credit to Teibert, he wasn’t making excuses – nor should he be.
The issues that plagued the Whitecaps against Sporting Kansas City have been the same issues that have plagued the team all year long.
The Whitecaps have been undisciplined all season, and are tied for the league-lead in red cards with seven. They rarely out-possess their opponents (they’re dead-last in MLS possession percentage), and didn’t on against SKC either. They also give up a ton of goals, ranking third-last in the Western Conference with 64 goals conceded this season.
No matter what happens in the final two matches, expect big changes this offseason as the team picks a new manager to lead the club.