Sunday, April 17, 2011

Report Card: Whitecaps FC Versus Chivas USA

The Whitecaps earned a single point against Chivas USA on Saturday even though most felt they were deserving of a better result.  While they did not have the majority of possession they certainly out chanced the visitors as they came close to breaking the deadlock.  Included in their chances were three  that just missed wide, a couple that hit woodwork, a clearance off the line and a candidate for save of the week off of Nizar Khalfan.


Eric Hassli- Hassli returned from another suspension with a strong performance as the target forward.  He had a fantastic first touch and was able to hold up the ball for Camilo and Chiumiento in the final third.  Hassli showed excellent touch as well when he delivered a couple of crosses into the box especially to Knight.  He did receive another caution for what seemed like a clean tackle so the French striker will have to be extra cautious as the referees seem to be looking for him.  GRADE:  B+

Camilo- With every game Camilo continues to prove that he is a capable striker for the physical play of the MLS.  He shows that he is not afraid to go at defenders as well as the skill to elude those same defenders.  The Brazilian had some great opportunities in the box including a shot that just missed wide in the first half.  Hassli and Camilo showed great potential as a dangerous striking combo as the season progresses once they get used to each other.  GRADE:  B

Omar Salgado- Making his home debut Salgado came on late in the game and almost became the game’s hero when he just missed on a header that sailed over the crossbar.  The Whitecaps have said they will take it slow with the rookie so don’t expect many starts but more second half substitutions.  He shows good pace and touch on the field in his limited chances and only needs to increase his awareness on the pitch which will come with time.  GRADE:  C+

Long Tan- Another home debut for a young striker, Tan came on as well late in the second half to provide a spark up front.  While he applied pressure effectively, except for a pass into the box that almost setup a goal Tan did not create enough havoc in the box.  The Chinese international will need more time in the reserve league to develop his game.  GRADE:  C


Wes Knight- This may have been the breakout game for Knight as he was always on the attack and came very close to giving the Whitecaps the lead in the first half.  Knight hit a post, had a ball cleared off the line and missed on a header from a cross by Eric Hassli in the second half.  While he played as a fullback last year, Knight has proven to very effective in midfield on the right side.  GRADE:  B

Davide Chiumiento- The Swiss playmaker was switched from the right side to the left for this match and displayed good chemistry with Camilo as they linked up several times in the first half.  The second half saw the Chivas defenders play extra attention to Chiumiento and this seemed to frustrate the midfielder as he was subbed off in the 68th minute.  GRADE:  B-

Nizar Khalfan- Coming on for Chiumiento in the second half, Khalfan provided speed down the left side and was robbed on a shot that would have collected three points for Whitecaps.  Khalfan is a different player when he plays at Empire compared to the road fixtures and it was on display yesterday as he made great runs and didn’t turn over the ball in his twenty plus minutes.  GRADE:  B-

Kevin Harmse- Becoming the 19th player to start for the Whitecaps, Harmse made was fit enough to go the full 90 which was in question by Teitur and the coaching staff.  He had a great opportunity early on in the box to give the Caps a goal but his shot sailed wide.  The MLS veteran seemed to lose steam in the second half as the team was unable to maintain possession and create chances.  GRADE:  C+

Jeb Brovsky- The second round draft pick made his second straight start in the central midfield and did not look completely out of place.  Brovsky showed good touch on some through balls and had some bone crunching tackles which earned a fair number of fouls as well as a yellow card.  Even when the injured players return to health Brovsky should see playing time especially with the fixture congestion of MLS and Nutrilite schedules.  GRADE:  C+


Alain Rochat- The Canadian born defender was brought in to play left back but Vancouver seems to have their best defensive games when Rochat is in the middle of the backline.  Rochat tackles with ease and keeps the backline in control when they are under duress from the opposition.  Despite his great play centrally, the Caps need Rochat at fullback for his attacking style as he moves up in the play and connects with the midfielders.  GRADE:  B+

Jonathan Leathers- I have mentioned it before but very little was expected or even known of Leathers when he was selected in the expansion draft.  He plays with the same consistency game in and game out and is rarely caught out of position defensively.  Leathers is showing offensive skill as he makes great runs which included a accurate cross that almost led to a goal.  GRADE:  B

Micheal Boxall- The supplemental draft pick is making every other team regret not selecting him in the regular Super Draft.  The Whitecaps seemed to find a gem in Boxall who shows great poise in the box and is rarely caught out of position.  There will be growing pains and once DeMerit, Janicki and Akloul return to fitness, there may be a reduction in playing time but Boxall has the ability to become a mainstay in the MLS.  GRADE:  B

Blake Wagner- Those who have read other report cards know that I’m not a huge fan of Wagner at left back.  However due to the injuries, the Caps have been forced to use the Wagner as a starting defender.  He never seems comfortable back there and rarely is effective moving up in an attacking role where most of the time he gives up the ball.  GRADE:  C


Jay Nolly- After giving up three goals to Houston last week, Nolly returned home to earn his and the team’s first cleansheet of the season.  He came big early when he cleared a shot off the line from a corner in the second minute as well as a header from Canadian Ante Jazic.  In addition to those saves, Nolly showed confidence in gathering crosses into the box eliminating chances for Chivas.  GRADE:  A-


The Vancouver Whitecaps remain undefeated at Empire Field as they now have one win and three draws there.  While it is remarkable that they are getting results with seven potential  starters unavailable(six injured and one on international duty)  for selection, these last two draw against the Revolution and Chivas USA could haunt them down the road.  It is clear that there is creativity in their attack but without those chances getting buried the Whitecaps will lose more points in winnable matches.  This may hurt their chances down the road when it comes to playoff time and they look back to these games at opportunities and points lost.

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