There were very few negatives for the Vancouver Whitecaps in their first game as a MLS franchise versus national rivals TFC. The midfield and forward positions played an almost flawless game offensively creating and finishing their opportunities. The backline had a couple of breakdowns which Toronto FC took full advantage of by converting them into goals. Here is a quick rundown individually and by position of how the Whitecaps rated in their first match.
The central midfield was covered and shut down by youngster Gershon Koffie (B) and local Vancouverite Terry Dunfield (A-). Both players were all over the field, especially Dunfield who snuck into the box between two defenders, took a pass from Chiumiento and converted the Caps second goal of the game. Before that Dunfield sent in Chiumiento with a perfect pass which led to the cross that set up the 1st goal. He of course drew a yellow card right after as he lost it for a second and dove into the crowd with his family and friends. Dunfield also made a key block off a TFC player in the box to keep from the opponents from gaining momentum. Koffie could be labeled as the unsung hero of the game as he shut down the midfield which limited TFC’s scoring chances. It seems like it will be hard for John Thorrington to take Koffie out of the lineup when he returns to full health.
On the left side, teenager Russell Teibert (B+) carried over his strong preseason play as he did not look out of place in his first MLS match. Like Chiumiento he provided some solid runs down the left side, including some quality service into the box for the strikers. He also came close to setting up some quality chances off free kick and corners but his teammates were unable to connect. In the second half Teibert came up lame and was replaced by defender Wes Knight (B+) who is capable of playing the midfield. Knight made a great run, staying onside, and was able to set Hassli up for his second by drawing out Stephane Frei and making an easy pass for the 4th goal. GRADE: B+
After a minor mistake in the first half, which was cleaned up by DeMerit, left back Alain Rochat (B) settled in and a solid game at left back. While he did not make many impressive runs into the the final third, Rochat supported the left midfielders (Teibert, Khalfan). Early in the 1st half Jonathan Leathers (B-) had a difficult time with new TFC left winger Martins but as the half wore on Leathers was able to get the better of the battle. He almost setup a goal early in the 2nd half when he crossed the ball into the box to Hassli who scored a goal that was called back because of a foul. GRADE: B-
Jay Nolly’s first MLS start in four years saw the Whitecap goalkeeper put in an adequate performance in the victory. There was very little chance for Nolly on either DeRosario goal or the Santos rocket from outside the box in the second half. He did make a great play off the line in order to deny Jacob Peterson on a break that helped the Caps maintain their two goal lead. At this point it is up in the air whether Nolly has secured a starting role when Joe Cannon returns to full match fitness. GRADE: B-