Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Different Characters But Same Plot For Whitecaps

The Whitecaps came into the mid-week game with a new coach, a new formation and several line-up changes including a couple of debuts but the story remained the same as they drew Chivas USA at The Home Depot Center 1-1.  In his initial match as the Vancouver’s head man Tom Soehn employed a 4-4-1-1 formation with Chiumiento playing behind Hassli and Camilo on the left wing.  In addition to Joe  Cannon taking over in goal, there were a couple of players who made their debut this season as Bilal Duckett came in at right back and Alex Morfaw took Terry Dunfield’s spot in the central midfield. 

The match kicked and for the first twenty minutes or so it was clear that the player for the Caps were still assimilating to the new system as they were unable to build up any play.  The chances for the Whitecaps started after the thirty minute mark when Hassli was sent in alone but could not get off a quality shot as it was directed wide.  After Chiumiento missed on a chance, Hassli almost put the Caps ahead with a curling strike that beat the Chivas goalkeeper but hit the bar.  Despite being dominated by Chivas for possession in the first half it was the Whitecaps with the best chances but they were unable to score going into the half.

It didn’t take Chivas long to capitalize in the second half as Nick Labrocca found space and fired a shot past Cannon in the first minute on their first shot on goal.  Unfortunately for the sparse home crowd the Whitecaps didn’t give them time to cheer too long after a great run by Salinas the ball eventually found its way to Camilo who blasted a shot into the net to even the score.  Four minutes later, after another run by Salinas, Chiumiento had a glorious chance to give the Caps a lead but fired it over the bar. 

Then the game took a turn when after a clumsy challenge by Hassli, where there was little contact made, the referee took and presented a red card to the French striker.  After the sending off, the ten man squad played tried to hold for the draw with Joe Cannon becoming the story.  After making a couple of solid saves, it was in the 83rd minute when Cannon came up big with save on Justin Braun after which DeMerit cleared a strike, from Labrocca, off the line.  Two minutes later Cannon came up big one more time as he was able to tip a shot, heading for the net, over the bar to preserve the draw.

The Whitecaps were hoping to get their first win on the road, second win overall, in this first under new coach Tom Soehn but the same things came into play that have hounded the club in past matches.  It was a lack of that touch and finishes in the final third and one costly defensive error that cost the Caps a chance at three points.  The Whitecaps as usual had great build up through the midfield but when they got around the box they were unable to make that last pass and when they did the shot wasn’t buried.  While their only score was initialized by the Salinas run, the ball made it to Camilo after Chiumiento’s shot was blocked.  On the goal they allowed it they were caught with both central midfielders high which gave Labrocca a lot of space and then the backline didn’t respect the midfielder’s shot as they gave him too much room. 

Then as they were gaining momentum their designated player was shown the gate as Hassli received another red cards for clumsy tackle that should have been at most a yellow card.  The sending off made the Caps change their tactics as Chiumiento was taken off as soon as the card was shown in order to fit the new formation.  The red card of course means that Hassli will be unavailable for their next match on the weekend as he will serve the mandatory one game suspension.

After this draw the Caps have a record of one win, five losses and seven draws for a total of ten points which still puts them last in the Western Conference.  With Hassli unavailable it will be interesting to see what formation Soehn will implement and which players will be rotated out.  The Whitecaps now move on to Utah where they will face the strong Real Salt Lake side even with a number of players missing. 

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