Saturday, April 30, 2011

Caps Attempt Late Rally But Come Up Short Against The Crew

Despite a late flourish in the second half the Vancouver Whitecaps were unable to find an equalizer as they dropped their third straight MLS road match to the Columbus Crew 2-1.  The coaching staff employed a similar tactic as in their midweek victory over the Impact where they seemed to conserve energy in the first half and then were looking to push forward in the second.  Unfortunately a couple of individual mistakes allowed the Crew to capitalize and put the Whitecaps in a hole they were unable to climb out of.

The first ten minutes of the first half saw the Whitecaps open with some pressure as Chiumiento opened the game with a couple of chances including one from 20 yards that just went over the box.  Columbus then took over the last 30 minutes of the half as the Whitecaps seemed to play back and allow the home side possession.  Near the end of the half, the Caps defenders were barely able to hang on as the Crew applied heavy pressure and were given a couple of dangerous free kicks in the final third.  The Columbus Crew's multiple free kicks were not converted as both teams went into the half scoreless.

A very lucky bounce off of the outside Leather’s foot caused the ball to go free in the box where Jay Nolly lost the race and fouled Emilio Renteria who was awarded a penalty.  Less than ten minutes after the penalty was converted Renteria struck again as he was put through into the box and chipped a shot past Nolly.  The second goal allowed seemed to spur Vancouver’s attack as in the 69th Omar Salgado opened his MLS account as converted a header from a perfectly crossed ball from captain Terry Dunfield.  The Whitecaps continued to pour the pressure in the final twenty and came close on a couple of occasions, including a ball cleared off the line from the foot of Khalfan, but came up empty as they lost another on the road.

In the post-game scrum, Teitur Tohoradson admitted it was a tactical choice to play a tight game and conserve energy because of their fixture congestion.  It almost worked if it wasn’t for a couple of individual breakdowns and unlucky bounces.  After a couple of key substitutions the Caps were able to carry the play in the last 30 minutes and were very close to completing a comeback to draw the game and obtain a result.  

There were some positives coming out of this match as we saw the pairing of the Janicki, who returned from injury, and Akloul, his initial start at CB, and for a first time there were no major mistakes.  The first overall pick in the SuperDraft, Omar Salgado, saw his first start in the MLS and scored his first goal.  Shea Salinas, the most impressive player in the preseason, made his first appearance in the league and showed good form on the right side of the midfield.  After missing four games Gershon Koffie returned from international duty and helped solidify the central midfield with Terry Dunfield.  The Caps now return to Empire for a midweek match with Canadian rival Montreal as they try to advance to the Nutrilite Finals. 

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