The Vancouver Whitecaps returned home to Empire Field and recorded their second straight home win with 1-0 result over the Houston Dynamo. Shea Salinas provided the heroics, with a little help from Long Tan, as the American midfielder got the gorilla off his back scoring for the first time this year. Other standout performances in the game against Houston included Koffie in the midfield, Rochat and Demerit on the backline, Hassli up front and Cannon in goal.
Eric Hassli- Considering how much the striker was held by the Dynamo central backs, it was amazing Hassli did not file charges. Another continuing issue is the lack of service the Frenchman receives from the current group of midfielders which forces him to create his chances on his own. GRADE: B+
Long Tan- The Dragon came on in the second half and provided the much needed spark for the Caps attack setting up the winning goal. Besides the assist, Tan was buzzing around the Dynamo box as he aggressively battled for the ball on the ground and in the air. GRADE: B
Mustapha Jarju- There were some thoughts that Jarju would be playing in a central midfield role but he once again started alongside Hassli. The feeling out process continues for the African DP but there were some positives with his header that forced Hall into a save and his setup for Salinas at the end of the first half. GRADE: B
Gershon Koffie- The young midfielder is no longer a teen, just turning twenty, and has gone from an unsung hero to a prominent one with his play this year. Koffie is turning into the Whitecaps best option for the box to box midfielder role as his tackling is near perfect and shows the most potential of the current central midfielders, for creativity in the final third. GRADE: A-
Shea Salinas- Coming on as a first half sub for the injured Thorrington, Salinas allowed the Whitecaps to go back to a conventional 4-4-2 with two true wingers. After missing on chance at the end of the first, Salinas redeemed himself with the winner on a great run on goal. GRADE: B+
Peter Vagenas- It was difficult at times for Vagenas to deal with the bigger and more physical Dynamo central midfield pair. However, the veteran played his regular game of disrupting Houston’s buildup and providing solid distribution himself. GRADE: B
Davide Chiumiento- It was clear that Chiumiento for the first part of the game was given the freedom to roam the pitch in order to create chances. However, he did not seem to be able to keep up with the others and did cause any discomfort to Houston defenders with his flair. GRADE: B
John Thorrington- After looking like he was putting injury concerns to rest, Thorrington seems to have possibly played his last game as a Cap going down with about ten minutes to go in the first half. The vet never seemed comfortable playing the wing as a central defender. GRADE: B-
Jeb Brovsky- The rookie came on in the second half with about five minutes to go in the match to provide a boost of energy from the midfield. Brovsky had an opportunity to score in the box late in the game but was unable to keep the ball on the net. GRADE: INC
Jay DeMerit- The captain put in a normal physical and aggressive performance, including keeping the bigger Costly from making any impact. DeMerit was able to play his game without worrying about other positions on the backline thanks to the return of Rochat. GRADE: B+
Alain Rochat- It was remarkable how much difference one player made to the club’s defensive play but Rochat is that one player. There were small moments where he showed some rustiness in his passing but for the most part he displayed his cool and calm demeanour on the ball. GRADE: B+
Jordan Harvey- Playing less of an attacking role, Harvey concentrated on defense and it showed with the cleansheet. He delivered the initial pass to Salinas that would eventual lead to the goal that won the game for the Whitecaps. GRADE: B
Jonathan Leathers- After spending a game from the bench, Leathers returned to his right back spot for the win against the Dynamo. It was definitely not the smoothest performance of his year but there was more effort and it was learned later he was dealing with a ruptured eardrum which caused some communication issues with his teammates. GRADE: B-
Joe Cannon- A superb display of goalkeeping by the veteran who kept the Whitecaps in the game while the attackers failed to score early on. Cannon had full command of the box while making great reflex and athletic saves which could be up for saves of the week. GRADE: B+
After giving up twelve goals in the last four games it was a much needed 1-0 victory for the Caps and second straight on home turf. The first cleansheet since their win against Philadelphia in June was due to the return of Alain Rochat to the backline giving the club their best combination of defenders this year. There were less scrambles in the defensive third as the Caps showed confidence in clearing second opportunities. The majority of chances for the Dynamo came off set pieces and even there the Whitecaps were solid, something that has been lacking this year. Of course the cleansheet could not be accomplished without the goalkeeping of Joe Cannon who made some spectacular saves.
The Whitecaps struggled once again to provide service to Hassli and the partnership between the two designated players still lacked chemistry. The tactics of the coach have to come in question when he keeps playing three holding midfielders and then a winger to roam about. It didn’t work against D.C., Portland and then for part of the Houston game.
While the Caps are definitely not in playoff contention they still have a chance to have a respectable season and a point total of 29-31 is not out of the question from their remaining eight games, five of which are at home. The Whitecaps can now enjoy a sometime without training as they will not be playing in a match next week. They return to action in two weeks’ time when they travel to the east coast to face the struggling New York Red Bulls and what could be their last chance to win on the road this year. GRADE: B+
This is not the typical 1-10 player rating scale
A: Superstar Level Performance
B: Solid Starter’s Performance
C: Should Be On the Bench
D: Not MLS Quality