Whitecaps early season struggles continue

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Blas Perez celebrates his goal vs Vancouver

This past Saturday the Vancouver Whitecaps were in Texas to take on FC Dallas looking to break their four game winless streak. From the opening kick-off the ‘Caps just did not look like they were ready to face the Dallas attack. Within the first minute of the game FC Dallas had a glorious chance to open the scoring when Blas Perez fired a shot from outside the box, but was steered wide of the goal by Whitecaps keeper Joe Cannon.

Dallas kept the pressure coming and did not let up. The home side completely dominated the first half, generating six corner kicks within the first 30 minutes. FC Dallas was eventually rewarded for their efforts with a goal in the 29th minute off their sixth corner of the game. The ball was sent in to the box and deflected just past the goal-line off the back of Whitecaps defender Brad Rusin. It may have been a lucky one, but nonetheless FC Dallas was up 1-0 and took that lead into halftime.

The Whitecaps did have a chance to tie the game in the 41st minute, however a goal-line clearance denied Matt Watson his first goal of the season. This was the best opportunity the Whitecaps would get all night.

The second half started off the same way the first half ended, it was all Dallas. In the 50th minute a ball crossed into the box was deflected off Whitecaps defender Y.P. Lee and onto the head of Dallas forward Blas Perez who was able to head the ball into the goal. That was all FC Dallas needed to secure their sixth victory of the season beating the Whitecaps 2-0.

From watching the game you could tell that the Whitecaps had no real chance of winning  after the first Dallas goal. FC Dallas just looked like a more controlled and calmer team when in possession. When they came down the pitch they had an idea of what they wanted to do and more often than not, they were able to create a quality scoring chance. The Whitecaps never really got comfortable on the ball. Their passes were sloppy, their control was off and they had no real purpose in their attack. If it wasn’t for the remarkable play of ‘Caps keeper Joe Cannon, the scoreline wouldn’t have been so modest. The Whitecaps were completely outplayed.

After such a promising start to the season, the Whitecaps have now fallen to 2-3-2, good enough for sixth place in the west (just out of a playoff spot) and have extended their winless streak to five games. Granted they are without Captain Jay Demerit, who is recovering from surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles tendon, leading goalscorer Kenny Miller (hamstring), Corey Hertzog (concussion) and Daigo Kobayashi, the Whitecaps are a team that have lost its rhythm and are now sputtering. Though their off-season acquisitions have made them a better squad this year as we have seen in the first couple games the season, they have just not been healthy and in form at the same time to contribute to the team.

Here’s a list of new additions to the team:

  • Tom Heinemann – striker
  • Corey Hertzog – striker
  • Erik Hurtado – forward/midfielder
  • Kekuta Manneh – forward/midfielder
  • Daigo Kobayashi – midfielder
  • Nigel Reo-Coker – midfielder
  • Brad Rusin – defender
  • Johnny Leveron – defender

Last years departures include:

  • Eric Hassli – striker
  • Sebastian Le Toux – striker
  • Atiba Harris – striker
  • Etienne Barbara – striker
  • Long Tan –  striker
  • Dane Richards – midfielder
  • Barry Robson – midfielder
  • Davide Chiumiento – midfielder
  • Michael Nanchoff – midfielder
  • John Thorrington – midfielder
  • Martin Bonjour – defender
  • Michael Boxall – defender

Replacing Chiumiento

The biggest challenge that head coach Martin Rennie faced during the off-season was trying to replace the creativity of midfielder Davide Chiumiento who left the team midway through last season. Barry Robson was supposed to fit this role. Unfortunately, he spent more time committing silly fouls and yelling at his own teammates rather than trying to find them in open areas. He also brought a playing style that English teams have been criticized over for the last decade or so, the infamous “Hollywood ball.” This is where a player sends the ball down field hoping that one of his teammates can run onto it, which is the complete opposite of  the possession and short-pass style of play of Chiumiento.

The ‘Caps think that they have found their replacement for Chiumiento in Daigo Kobayashi. So far it seems that Kobayashi is the man to lead the ‘Caps attack forward due to his impeccable ball control, passing skills and finishing ability. However, Kobayashi has been considered an injury-prone player throughout his career and was not in the lineup for the ‘Caps on Saturday.

Kobayashi’s finishing ability illustrated here:

Cannon key to ‘Caps success

Keeper Joe Cannon has been the M.V.P. for the Whitecaps so far this season due to his spectacular play in goal. The former MLS goalkeeper of the year has kept the Whitecaps in games that they probably should be losing due to the teams recent string of poor performances. He has single-handedly won games for this team and has secured them valuable points ever since arriving in Vancouver back in 2011. Cannon finished last season with 77 saves and has 25 so far this year. It pains me to think about where the ‘Caps would be without him.

Here’s a look at some of his saves from the 2012 MLS Season:

Cannon’s career highlights:

  • 2001 MLS Cup with San Jose
  • Two-time MLS goalkeeper of the year – 2002, 2004
  • Played half a season in Ligue 1 in France with Racing Club de Lens – 2003
  • Drafted eighth round 16th overall by Vancouver in 2010 MLS Expansion Draft
  • Ranked third all-time in MLS in shutouts and second all-time in saves

 

Feature Image: MLS Soccer

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Ryan Lehal Sports Columnist. Kwantlen Journalism Grad.
@ryan19l

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