Monday, August 8, 2011

Report Card: Whitecaps FC Versus Chicago Fire

There was a sense of dread going into the Chicago Fire match after the result from the previous weekend against the Galaxy.  There was some relief when Hassli scored less than a minute into the game but concern returned when the Fire even the score.  Fortunately for the supporters the Whitecaps added three more goals and were able to seal the match with a 4-2 victory.


Camilo- While many had Hassli named as man of the match, Camilo actually was equal if not better than the Frenchman when it came it to the impact on the game.  In addition to his beautiful goal, the Brazilian drew a penalty as well as numerous other fouls, took the a great free kick that led to the fourth goal, and won the ball in the air which was instrumental in Koffie’s goal.  GRADE:  A-

Eric Hassli- The striker was a converted penalty kick away from having a perfect game.  Hassli caused the Chicago’s backline so many problems with his size and skill as he held up the ball with ease.  While his first goal had the typical world class finish that we are used to, it was his second that was more promising with it being his first ‘garbage’ one as he was able to convert on a scramble in the box.   GRADE:  A-


Gershon Koffie- The Ghanaian midfielder is becoming a force in the midfield for Whitecaps with the offensive side of his game showing the biggest improvement.  Koffie’s long distance strike was his first in MLS and returned the lead back to the home side after giving up the lead.  There was no drop off in his defensive prowess as his tackling and pressure disrupted Chicago’s ability to build up the attack.   GRADE:  B+

Shea Salinas- It was another solid performance by Salinas on the right side of the midfield who found Camilo for the third goal.  While none of his runs led to any scoring, they did create scoring chances and kept the defenders on their backheel.  Salinas played mostly on the left side when Teibert came in to play left back as his defensive play helped the youngster in his first appearance at that position.  GRADE:  B

Peter Vagenas- The evolution of Koffie can be contributed to the strong play of Vagenas in the central midfield.  The veteran’s strong play on the ball and distribution helped the Whitecaps maintain possession of the ball.  GRADE:  B

Davide Chiumiento- Nursing a minor calf injury, Chiumiento came on as a halftime sub for Thorrington playing mostly the right wing spot.  He was unable to get into the flow of the game, despite some fancy footwork.  GRADE:  B-

John Thorrington- The MLS veteran made his first start and only second appearance of the season as he had to battle through a number of injuries.  While he did not make an impact on the game, spending most of his time on the right side of the midfield, it was a positive to see him last a half.   GRADE:  B-

Jeb Brovsky- The midfielder came on late in the game for Hassli as an energy replacement as he applied high pressure on the Chicago defenders and midfielders.  He did not have enough time to make an impact but did what he was asked to do.  GRADE:  C+


Alain Rochat- It was another muted but solid game for the defender who once again played centrally on the backline.  With DeMerit missing from the starting eleven, Rochat has had to play a more defensive role and rarely ventures forward.  He was forced out of the game in the second ha;f with what looked to be a minor injury problem.  GRADE:  B

Jonathan Leathers- It was another solid performance by the American defender who, along with entire backline, struggled in the previous week.  Leathers played more defensively and rarely ventured forward in the attacking zone.  GRADE:  B

Michael Boxall- After possibly his worst performance of his professional career, Boxall came back with a solid match on the backline.  Boxall used his physical style to help clear the ball and establish dominance on the smaller Fire forwards.  GRADE:  B

Jordan Harvey- It was a much better performance for Harvey after he struggled in his home debut against the Galaxy as he handled Pappa on the left side.  He played a more attacking role in the first half when he played at left back and then hung back when he switched to the center of the backline in place of Rochat.  GRADE:  B

Russell Teibert- Normally playing as a midfielder, Teibert made his debut at the left back position when he came on for Rochat.  The youngster had a decent first game at a new position as he was able to make some key interceptions but this experiment is a definite work in progress.  GRADE:  C+


Jay Nolly- It was his second start in twelve games for Nolly and he was able to pick up his second win of the season.  While he had very little chance on the two goals he allowed, it was Nolly’s big save off Barouch that preserved the two goal lead.  He was also very confident coming off the line to punch and clear the ball away.  GRADE:  B


The Vancouver Whitecaps needed a victory after their loss to the Galaxy and while they only had to wait a week, it was a week that caused many in the local soccer community to question whether the team could compete in the MLS.  The three points did come against another bottom feeder but the way the win was accomplished is very encouraging for the team.  They did not allow negatives to shake them and cause a collapse, especially when the Fire tied it up and Hassli missed the penalty.  In both instances the Whitecaps responded with goals which took away the momentum that the Fire had seemed to build up.

There was also no nursing a one goal lead in this game as the Caps continued to apply pressure in the final third which would lead to a three goal margin in the second half.  Despite giving up two goals, which were given up on counter attacks, the backline kept the box clean of chances and stopped the Fire build up through the midfield.  The Whitecaps now will try to carry the momentum onto the road as they travel to the East and face D.C. United next week.  GRADE:  B+

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