Monday, June 20, 2011

Report Card: Whitecaps FC Versus Philadephia Union

While the Whitecaps provided their fans a lot of offense in its first victory on opening day, it was a complete overall effort in all the thirds that led to the 1-0 victory over the Philadelphia Union.  While it was a spectacular shot by Rochat that opened the score, the run by Chiumiento to set up the goal was just as exciting and highlight worthy.  It could have a win by a bigger margin if the shots by the players, especially Hassli, had been more on target.

Disclaimer:  These are not the typical 1-10 scale that players are usually rated with.


Davide Chiumiento- Playing in his fourth match as a withdrawn striker Chiumiento had his best performance in his new role setting up the only goal as he picked up the ball at the center line, then cut across the field to find Rochat.  He seemed to be all over the field and if his teammates could have finished the Swiss playmaker could have had a couple of more assists.  Chiumiento is also proving not to be a liability on the defensive side as his work rate on that side of the ball is steadily improving. GRADE:  A-

Eric Hassli- It may have not been a repeat performance in the goal department but Hassli put in another strong performance against the Union.  He held the ball well and his touch on Chiumiento’s run, which set up Rochat’s goal, was perfect and a couple of opportunities to score his own goal.  Most importantly he maintained his cool while being fouled hard by Valdes and Califf and stayed in the game.  GRADE:  B+


Shea Salinas- Playing against his former team, Salinas looked to have that extra energy has he constantly outworked the opponent for the ball.  His best work was around the 20th minute when he made a great run to catch up to a long ball and set up the ball perfectly for Hassli in the box but the shot was missed wide.  It was also the first game where he did not look worn down late in the match which could mean that his fitness level is at 100%.  GRADE:  B+

Camilo- With every game he plays Camilo is becoming more and more comfortable in his new position on the left wing.  While he rarely makes a cross into the box, the Brazilian finds the necessary space in the final third to get scoring opportunities which he was unable to covert in this game.  He is even getting better defensively which is an added bonus for the club.   GRADE:  B

Jeb Brovsky- In his second straight start, Brovsky may have played his best overall game to date as he played well defensively and found the right players with his passes going forward.  The rookie also avoided turning the ball over to the opponents in dangerous spots which has been issue in past games.  GRADE:  B

Terry Dunfield- While most fans may dwell on the turnover late in the game that almost led to a goal, Dunfield made his share of plays earlier in the game that halted the Union attacks through the middle.  This was also Dunfield’s fourth start in eleven days as he had played almost every minute for Canada in the Gold Cup and it was clear that fatigue was affecting his play before he came off the pitch.  GRADE:  B

Nizar Khalfan- Returning from international duty, Khalfan came on with about fifteen minutes to go and provided some good pressure on the desperate Union players.  The Tanzanian also caught Philly goalkeeper Mondragon out of his box and had a chance to double the lead but the shot was blocked.  GRADE:  B-

Gershon Koffie- With Dunfield’s return to the club and starting eleven it was Koffie who found himself on the bench.  He came on with less than ten minutes to go and while he may have provided energy it was uncontrolled as he gave three free kicks in dangerous spots to the Union.  GRADE:  C+


Alain Rochat- For the past few games there has been unwillingness in Rochat’s game to come forward in an attacking role but the Swiss trained left back turned that around with his goal in the 12th minute.  As per usual there were little error in his defensive play and it actually seemed to better after he scored his second of the season.  GRADE:  A-

Jay DeMerit- It seems like a broken record but DeMerit continues to impress with his play in the defensive half as well as around the box.  It’s very safe to assume that his lack of presence on the pitch due to injury cost the team a fair amount of points and spots in the standings.  He also assisted his fellow defenders and covered for them when there was the odd breakdown in coverage.  GRADE:  B+

Jonathan Leathers- What Leathers lacks for in pace, he was beaten to the ball a few times, he makes up with positioning, toughness and a high work rate.  He is connecting well with Salinas on the right side as his perfectly weighted long ball led to a scoring opportunity that could’ve double their lead.   GRADE:  B

Michael Boxall- Making his first start since the April 23rd loss to FC Dallas, Boxall showed improvements in his game as he easily cleared the ball out of danger by using his physical play to gain advantage against the Philadelphia strikers.  There were a couple of instances where the rookie failed to make the right decision going forward and gave the ball away which luckily didn’t lead to anything.   GRADE:  B


Joe Cannon- Making his fourth straight start, Cannon secured the club’s first cleansheet victory in the MLS thanks to the play of his backline.  The MLS veteran was forced to make a couple of saves and only one of them really tested him but his organization of his defenders was the main reason that kept the Philadelphia away.  GRADE:  B


In claiming their second victory of their rookie MLS season, there was no one player that could be isolated in the win as it was a complete team effort.  The backline played their most flawless game as they kept the ball wide and rarely allowed Philadelphia to attack down the middle of the pitch.  When the ball did enter the box it was promptly cleared and the danger was averted in front of Cannon’s net.  The central midfield duo of Dunfield and Brovsky did a solid job of tracking back to find the ball and push it forward before pressure could be applied.  With this pair there seemed to be clearly defined roles as Dunfield was playing more a holding spot and Brovsky would join the attack more often.

The pace of the wingers, especially Salinas, stretched Philadelphia throughout the match which allowed space for others to join the attack.  The combination of Hassli and Chiumiento are finding their rhythm and are connecting better with each match.  A very positive sign is seeing Rochat joining the attack which has been missing for a number of games.  The gameplan that Tom Soehn has put together worked for the full 90 minutes as the team attacked as a unit and defended as a unit which frustrated the Union.  Even though he was being physically abused by both Valdes and Califf, Hassli kept his cool and remained cardless unlike their first meeting.

The organization, its players and supporters are hoping that this game is the proof that the Whitecaps are capable of turning their season around in a charge to make the playoffs.  Despite their horrible start due to injuries and lack of focus the Caps are only four points out of the play in spot.  If they can duplicate their play against the Union and just finish their chances on net, a spot in the post season is not beyond the realms of possibility.   GRADE:  A-

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