Sunday, April 3, 2011

Report Card: Whitecaps FC Versus Sporting KC

After providing the home crowd so much excitement in the opening match of the franchise, the Whitecaps followed up with a draw that many (media, players and supporters) claim was more memorable than the win against TFC.  In the final 20 minutes, plus an extraordinary 5 minutes of injury time, the Caps turned a game that would have seen them face criticism and ridicule from the MLS world into a game that will be a highlight of their first season.  Of course the grades below would have been lower if they didn’t score the two goals in injury time and they might be a little higher because of the comeback.


Camilo:  The diminutive Brazilian striker who torched the Maltese League last year announced his arrival in the MLS world with his two injury time goals.  Camilo was involved in the setup of the first goal by Atiba Harris.  His grade would have been high even without the goals as he created some great chances for himself and his teammates that weren’t finished.   GRADE:  A-

Atiba Harris:  Another goal and solid performance by Atiba Harris in his third match with the Whitecaps.  While he doesn’t have the greatest firsttouch, Harris consistently battles up front and is a load for defenders to handle which opens space for teammates.  Even on his goal he made the wise decision by just guiding the ball into the net.  GRADE:  B


Davide Chiumiento:  The Whitecaps most dangerous player was well known to Sporting KC because as soon as Chiumiento came into the match defenders paid more attention to him.  This opened up huge spaces for other Whitecaps like Camilo and Khalfan to make runs towards the net.  Chiumiento showed great vision in his 25+ minutes of play and was a catalyst for the comeback.  GRADE:  B+

Nizar Khalfan:  The Tanzanian international had a bounce back game from his disappointing performance as a starter in the previous against Philadelphia.  Khalfan setup the first goal with an impressive run down the left wing which led to cross that was finished by Harris.  He also setup the tying score with another perfect cross that was headed in by Camilo.  GRADE:  B+

Terry Dunfield:  The captain had another solid game in the central midfield as he was able to shut down attacks down the middle.  Dunfield was above average with his passing going forward and it was a fantastic pass to Chiumiento that led to the second goal for the Caps.  In addition to those attributes his leadership on the pitch was on display as he didn’t let the team get down after falling behind by 3 goals.  GRADE:  B+

Gershon Koffie:  The young midfielder is one the most consistent performers so far this season as he shows great poise in the centre of the pitch.  While he has yet to show what he can do in the final third of the field, which could be by design of their game plan, Koffie makes it difficult on the opposition to build up their through the middle.  GRADE:  B

Wes Knight:  Receiving his first start of his MLS career, Knight was able to put together some solid runs down the right side which created a couple of scoring opportunities.  If those chances were finished the final grade for Knight may have been higher.  The performance of Chiumiento, who took off Knight, also overshadowed what he did in the match.  GRADE:  B-

Blake Wagner:  While he did not make any glaring errors, Wagner was unable to impress with his play in yesterday’s match.  He started at left mid and while he did have a strike on net off a corner kick, Wagner was not dangerous on the wing.  The Janicki for Khalfan substitution moved Wagner to left back where he stayed back and became even less of a threat.   GRADE:  C


Alain Rochat:  While it wasn’t his usual high level of play, Rochat had some real battles with Kei Kamara on the wing as he wore down the Sporting KC winger.  The injury to Greg Janicki and subsequent substitutions moved Rochat to centre half, where he played last week, as he helped shut down Sporting KC’s scoring opportunities going forward.  GRADE:  B

Jonathan Leathers:  The former Wizard continued his workman like performance in the draw yesterday.  He won his share of balls and made some connections with Dunfield and Knight on the right side early in the game.  Leathers was caught out of position on third goal as Sapong was able to make a run and setup Kamara.  GRADE:  B-

Micheal Boxall:  The only rookie in the line-up yesterday played a good game as he won the majority of balls in the air.  He still struggles with closing down on forwards as witnessed by the first Bunbury goal.  Another thing he needs to work on is what he does with the ball in his distribution when going forward on the pitch.  GRADE:  C+

Greg Janicki:  After last week’s impressive performance in Philadelphia there was little worry for what Janicki would bring to Saturday’s match.  It was going well until he hurt himself in a collision with a Kansas City forward.  It was revealed post game that he suffered a hip pointer.  It showed as he admitted himself that he was responsible for all three goals.  GRADE:  C


Jay Nolly:  While it was an exciting match for the players and fans, Nolly or any other goalkeeper wouldn’t enjoy being scored on multiple times.  He made a major mistake in injury time of the 1st half when he threw the ball out of bounds which led to the first goal.  Nolly doesn’t seem to be as vocal in organizing his backline as Cannon is normally which led to breakdowns when defending.  GRADE:  C


The Whitecaps did give up three goals on defensive breakdowns, could have easily folded and looked forward to the Revolution on Wednesday.  Most teams would have chosen that route but the Whitecaps continued to attack and found holes in a shaky Sporting KC defense.  The belief that they could come back combined with their superior endurance fuelled the unbelievable rally.  Of course another big factor in the comeback were the supporters who could have started leaving after going down 3-0 but stayed and made noise that the player admitted help the team push forward.  If the Whitecaps can stay relatively healthy and don’t look past opponents they can be a very dangerous team indeed.  GRADE:  B+

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