It was a game that had everything – goals, debuts, missed penalties, and botched referee calls. However, at the end of the day it was a bad day in the office for the Whitecaps and they lost their lead and settle on a score that divide the points evenly with the low-flying Orlando City SC.
Perhaps due to the fact that the Blue and White were playing their third game in eight days, Carl Robinson’s team looked tired at times. Coming out flat from the dressing room allowed Orlando to take over the match and the visitor’s efforts were rewarded at the 12th when Julio “The Beast” Baptista rifled a shot from outside the box and squeaked in through David Ousted’s legs.
The goal seemed to wake the Whitecaps up and they played their best football of the evening in the following thirty minutes. They were able to tie the game via a Nicolas Mezquida header in the 35th minute and take the lead with a Masato Kudo header off of a great set piece delivery by Pedro Morales.
— Vancouver Whitecaps (@WhitecapsFC) July 17, 2016
Alas, as we have seen time and time again in 2016, the Whitecaps were unable to keep their defensive efforts tight and Canadian striker Cyle Larin would head in the tying, and eventually final, goal of the night shortly after the second half got under way.
It is worth noting that Robinson gave Alphonso Davies his first MLS minutes of the season a day after signing his brand new MLS contract. The 15 year old injected some energy into the Whitecaps attack and brought the crowd to their feet with a cavalier run down the field after recovering the ball just outside Vancouver’s box.
And there he goes. Fifteen years old… A one man (kid) wrecking ball. pic.twitter.com/pPNJS4XOQB
— Total MLS (@TotalMLS) July 17, 2016
After a nightmare match in Kansas City back in March 12th that saw him receive a red card just before halftime, Costa Rican right back Jordan Smith saw very little playing time until a recent injury sidelined Fraser Aird.
It is no secret that I am a Jordan Smith apologist. The imposing Tico is often the recipient of heavy criticism due to his poor defending and lack of positional awareness. I am, however, a believer that his contributions to the attack are worth it. Not to mention that his defending has improved over the last few games.
Today’s match will make it considerably more difficult for me to continue my “pro-Smith” narrative. The right back had one of his worst showings as a Whitecap. His positioning was indeed poor, his distribution was inaccurate, and his service into the box was deficient.
Orlando scouted their opposition well and they exploited Vancouver’s weak link sending Kevin Molino down the left flank to service Larin dangerous balls in the box time and time again.
To top it all off, he committed a foul that gifted Orlando a penalty kick. Thankfully for the Blue and White, “the Beast” hulked his shot and the ball kid is still waiting for it to land.
— Vancouver Whitecaps (@WhitecapsFC) July 17, 2016
The question going forward is whether or not it is time for Robinson to seriously consider moving Smith down the depth chart. Is it time to use Tim Parker or newcomer David Edgar as the natural replacements for Fraser Aird as he regains fitness after his injury? Or, was this terrible game a hiccup in Smith’s improvement that will see him back to the form we saw in other recent outings?
The New Maestro
Speaking of Ticos, the Vancouver Whitecaps have a new maestro. When Pedro Morales is not directing the orchestra, this team plays to the rhythm of Christian Bolaños. After a few early adaption weeks when “Bola” seemed to be invisible at times, the two-time World Cup veteran has come into his own and become an important (if not the most important) player in the Whitecaps squad.
His ability to dictate the tempo of the game combined with his off the ball movement, capacity to find channels, crisp service, and high football IQ has made Bolaños the linchpin in the team’s scoring machine.
It was Bolaños who pulled a rabbit out of the hat and created the chance that caused the own goal against RSL on Wednesday. It was Bolaños’ trickery inside the box that led to Mezquida’s first goal today. It was also Bolaños who earned the smart foul that allowed the Whitecaps to score the go-ahead goal this afternoon.
It was Bolaños, it was Bolaños, it was Bolaños.
The Tico’s signing may not have come with flashing lights and drum rolls but it is, perhaps, one of the shrewdest that this team has concocted in its history.
Is Kudo the real deal?
This was Masato Kudo’s second game after returning from an injury that sidelined him for two months and the Japanese striker scored his second goal in a Whitecaps jersey. It is clear that Kudo possess a finely trained nose that allows him to find pockets of space in front of goal, peel off defenders’ shoulders, and locate channels with acres of space to carry the ball forward.
— Farhan Devji (@farhandevji) July 17, 2016
After Octavio Rivero’s departure to Colo Colo, Whitecaps supporters have demanded the signing of a notable forward to replace the Uruguayan. However, with the possible signing of Mexican striker Enrique Esqueda, it seems that Robinson and his staff are putting all (or most) of their marbles in Masato’s basket as their new number one guy.
And, at least, for now, it seems that Kudo is showing promise.
The Whitecaps will now embark on a four game road stretch that will see them play in Texas twice (against the Dyname and FC Dallas), in Trinidad and Tobago (for the first game of the CONCACAF Champions League), and in Colorado (to face the league-leading Rapids).
Things are not going to get any easier for the Blue and White and adding points in the next month will be a tall task. This is why it was imperative for them to earn full points in their most recent home stand. Five out of the nine points available was not an ideal take-away.
— Jarred (@jarred1886) July 17, 2016
Man of the Match: Masato Kudo
Referee: Hilario Grajeda
14′ – ORL – Julio Baptista (Luke Boden)
35′ – VAN – Nicolas Mezquida
43′ – VAN – Masato Kudo (Pedro Morales)
50′ – ORL – Cyle Larin (Kevin Molino, Darwin Ceren)
Possession: Vancouver 47.9 % – Orlando 52.1 %
Shots: Vancouver 14 – Orlando 12
Shots on Goal: Vancouver 4 – Orlando 5
Saves: Vancouver 2 – Orlando 2
Fouls: Vancouver 17 – Orlando 9
Offsides: Vancouver 1 – Orlando 1
Corners: Vancouver 6 – Orlando 6
69′ – ORL – Servando Carrasco
90′ + 2′ – VAN – Andrew Jacobson
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
1.David Ousted; 6.Jordan Smith, 4.Kendall Waston, 26.Tim Parker, 2.Jordan Harvey; 17.Andrew Jacobson, 15.Matías Laba (13.Cristian Techera 63′); 7.Christian Bolaños, 11.Nicolás Mezquida (67.Alphonso Davies 77′), 77.Pedro Morales ©; 9.Masato Kudo (19.Erik Hurtado 83′)
Substitutes not used
70.Paolo Tornaghi, 14.Cole Seiler, 30.Ben McKendry, 33.Marcel de Jong
Orlando City SC
1.Joe Bendik; 12.Kevin Alston, 3.Seb Hines ©, 44.David Mateos, 14.Luke Boden; 17.Darwin Ceren, 5.Servando Carrasco; 13.Hadji Barry (22.Antonio Nocerino 84′), 19.Julio Baptista (7.Cristian Higuita 79′), 18.Kevin Molino; 9.Cyle Larin
Substitutes not used
36.Earl Edwards, 2.Tyler Turner, 16.Devron Garcia, 23.Conor Donovan