Sunday, May 8, 2011

Report Card: Whitecaps FC Versus Chicago Fire

After having to play an intense 120 minutes against a bitter rival and then travelling more than halfway across the continent, there was a little doubt that the Whitecaps would be able to pull out a result.  The Caps had a strong opening to the game as well as controlling the game in the last twenty minutes but allowed the Fire to control the tempo in between.  Vancouver will now return home to Empire Field for another midweek match against the San Jose Earthquakes where they look for their second victory of the season.


Eric Hassli- For the first part of the game Hassli seemed to be invisible on the pitch but that more to do with lack of quality service.  He is still above average in his ability to hold up the ball when he does get it in the right location.  One thing Hassli can’t afford to do is miss on opportunities like his breakaway late in the match that would have given the Caps the full three points.  GRADE:  B

Nizar Khalfan- With Atiba Harris recovering from injury, Khalfan is seeing more time up front and is on the constant search for the net. His best chance was in injury time when Khalfan had a chance for glory as his blast from 25 yards out just missed and sailed over the crossbar.  GRADE: B-

Camilo- It’s becoming clearer that Camilo is becoming frustrated with his play on the pitch as he’s looking for fouls instead of his teammates when in the final third.  If not for a clear foul, which could have been a sending off, the Brazilian could have opened up the scoring as he had a clear path to goal in the first five minutes of the match.  GRADE:  C+


Davide Chiumiento- His fitness level no longer being questioned by the staff, as after he played 120 minutes on Wednesday, Chiumiento put in a full 90 minutes against the Fire.  His best play of the night was his through ball to Hassli which was perfect and should have been an assist for the playmaker.  GRADE:  B

Terry Dunfield- The Canadian international was one of the players that seemed to play a predesigned conservative game as he was rarely seen in the final third.  He still displayed his passing as he was able to connect the backline to the players upfront and his defensive play was also important.  GRADE:  B

Shea Salinas- Coming on as a sub once again, Salinas was once again a spark that helped the Caps apply pressure on the Fire.  His runs down the right side helped open space for his teammates and should be close to being able to make those runs as a member of the starting eleven.  GRADE:  B-

Gershon Koffie- The young Ghanaian seemed to suffer the most from playing the 120 minutes as his normal poise in the central midfield was missing with his passes off the mark when going forward.  As a positive his tackling did not suffer as he was able to take the ball away especially in the second half when he located in front of the backline.  GRADE: C+

Blake Wagner- As a disclaimer I should declare that I’m not the biggest fan of Wagner.  Against the Fire he saw a start in the midfield and was never a threat going forward and gave up the ball too easily when attempting to go on the attack.  It was clear that the Fire were not paying much attention to Wagner and were cheating to the other attackers on the pitch which did change when Salinas came on for him.  GRADE:  C


Alain Rochat- The Swiss import was once again the best player on the pitch for the Whitecaps as he is becoming a threat going forward in addition to his stellar play in his own end.  An example of this are his biggest two plays which were his shot just missing the net and his perfectly timed slide tackle in the box which kept the game scoreless.  GRADE:  B+

Mouloud Akloul- The defender continued his comeback from injury with another solid performance on the backline.  There were some mistimed tackles that put his fellow defenders under distress but his play in the air heading the ball out of danger was close to perfect.  GRADE:  B-

Greg Janicki- The American defender had a bounce back game from Wednesday as he was moving better and was there to cover for Akloul’s previously mentioned tackles.  Janicki was great again in the air clearing the box on a number of occasions.  GRADE:  B-

Jonathan Leathers- Another player who was not making many runs into the attack Leathers also had a better game defensively than how he played against Montreal.  If the Caps can find a match to rest him he could return to his higher level of play from earlier this season.  GRADE:  B-


Jay Nolly- Despite only having to make one major save, in the first  half off of Pappa, Nolly continues to get better with his angles when coming off the line.  When a couple of Fire player were in alone on Nolly, the goalkeeper played big and with confidence which forced Chaves to hit the post and Odoru to miss the net entirely.  GRADE:  B


The match was a difficult one to judge as they were lucky not to lose the game and were unlucky not to be able to pick up the victory.  The Fire were able to find soft spots in between the backline and the midfield and almost converted on a couple of chances.  A halftime adjustment closed those spots down and they were forced to shoot from afar.  The defenders did a solid job of covering for each other when tackles were missed and Nolly played the role of the last line of defense perfectly gaining his second cleansheet of the season.

On the attack the Caps had a few opportunities at bookends of the match but were slowed down for the majority of the match as the Fire controlled the pace of the match and slowed things down.  The central midfield rarely pushed forward and that allowed Chicago to control possession in the middle of the pitch.  The additions of the speedy Shea Salinas and Nizar Khalfan changed the complexion of the game as their pace gave the opposition fits in the last quarter of the game.  There seems to be a lack of chemistry between Camilo and Hassli when the two are paired up front as their runs are rarely proven effective.  GRADE:  B-

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