If you had even half an eye on the news cycle this weekend, you couldn’t miss the media hype being built around Sunday’s Whitecaps season opener.
Interviews with Carl Robinson, Jordan Harvey, and David Ousted were played and replayed. Clips of the supporters doing what supporters do best – sing, march and cheer – intercut with a selection of pretty goals and other highlights painted Sunday’s game as the place to be for entertainment both on and off the pitch.
Well, if you were a neutral, yesterday’s game certainly didn’t lack for entertainment on the pitch. If you were a Montreal supporter (boo), you probably attempted to convince your spouse “Ignacio” is a great baby name.
As for the rest of the sellout crowd at BC Place, the casuals were already halfway to the Skytrain by the time Kendall Waston headed home a stoppage time goal to cut the Impact’s lead to one and give the die-hards fleeting memories of the smash-and-grab moments from seasons past.
Alas, there was no snatching of points on this day. Montreal won 3-2, with all three points going to the visitors from Quebec thanks to three goals scored not so much on ability (Igancio Piatti’s jock-twisting run on the first goal notwithstanding) but on uncharacteristic mistakes from the most unlikely of places: David Ousted.
Let’s be fair to the Danish goalkeeper; Ousted cannot be faulted on the first goal.
Kianz Froese, Christian Bolaños, Fraser Aird, and Kendall Waston share the blame for that one, looking absolutely lost and confused as Piatti waltzed into the box. Bolaños and Aird in particular stood out as making some highly questionable calls as to how and where to defend Piatti’s run, with Bolaños’ decision to run away from the attacking Argentine particularly troubling.
Up until now, I was certain the “kicking the ball” part of soccer was something most professionals had figured out by the U-6 or U-8 level. Ousted’s swing-and-a-miss on a routine play for Montreal’s second goal suggests otherwise.
It’s an appalling gaffe from a goalkeeper whose consistency, reliability, and penchant for game-saving moments defined the 2015 Whitecaps when their goal-scoring woes popped up. Instead, the ‘Caps are now down 2-0 in the first half of their home opener with all the hype and energy dissipated like clouds on a sunny March day. (Speaking of, at least the weather in the Lower Mainland was decent today. That’s something, right?)
The third goal – a counter-attack by the Impact made possible by the Whitecaps throwing the kitchen sink at Evan Bush’s net in hopes that something might sneak by for an equalizer – may seem harsh to pin on Ousted.
An odd-man rush, a defender gobbled up by the turf monster and the only man tracking back at pace is your long-ball playmaker does not add up to a solid defensive situation.
Pedro Morales turned on the jets to at least pressure Piatti, who showed no signs whatsoever of noticing or caring. That left it all up to Ousted, whose reaction to Piatti’s calmly placed ball left much to be desired. With his team madly trying to salvage at least a point, Ousted needed to do his part. He didn’t.
To Ousted’s credit, he owned it after the game.
Absolutely gutted by the loss today. Not the way I wanted to start. Nothing to do but to get back to work and look ahead.
— David Ousted (@David_Ousted) March 7, 2016
It’s almost a complete flip-flop from last season, where Ousted was the player of the match bailing out an anemic offence.
Ousted and his Whitecaps teammates will get a chance to bounce back from this performance on Saturday in Kansas City.