Saturday, September 10, 2011

Caps Unable to Handle Ten Man Red Bulls

Despite being up a man for more than 45 minutes, the Vancouver Whitecaps had to settle for a 1-1 draw with the New York Red Bulls.  By the end of the match the Caps could consider themselves lucky to hold onto the single point as they thoroughly outplayed by the home side in the second half.  Scoring his second of the season was Davide Chiumiento while substitute Juan Agudelo responded for New York.

The Caps came out of the gate attacking aggressively and should’ve been up a goal in the first ten minutes if it were not for a poor decision by the referee.  After a sublime give and go between Hassli and Camilo, the Brazilian beat his mark and slipped the ball past the goalkeeper but he was called for a foul when it was clear that the Red Bull player had slipped.  The Red Bulls responded with their chance a minute later when Richards was found open inside the box but after a scramble it was a weak backheel attempt by Henry that all they could come up with.

The Caps continued with their chances as Chiumiento split two defenders for a break on goal but was stopped by Coundoul with a spectacular save.  A second opportunity came in the 23rd minute for the Swiss international and this time he made no mistake.  Camilo started the play with a great run to the byline and then cut the ball back to Chiumiento who flicked the ball in the air, turned and fired it off the bar for the goal. 

Another controversial call came late in the first half when after already receiving a caution, Rafa Marquez escaped a second yellow as he two footed Hassli to the ground.  Injury time saw that call made up as after fouling Camilo on a potential scoring opportunity, Jan Gunnar Solli was shown a straight red reducing the Red Bulls to ten men.

The first ten minutes saw the Caps continue strong possession and led to a few opportunities to double their lead.  However, the visitors seemed to lose their legs and at this point and the Red Bulls started to take over the game.  It clearly tilted in their favour once Agudelo entered the match and he made his appearance count as he scored six minutes later off a cross, from Marquez, into the box.  Desperate for the win to help their playoff hopes, the Red Bulls took chances which led to counter attack opportunities for Vancouver.

The last ten minutes became the time for Joe Cannon to shine as the MLS veteran made two back to back saves and then another spectacular stop off a Henry free kick.  A shot from Camilo, just missing the far post, almost captured the full three points in injury time for the Whitecaps.

The Whitecaps may have played their best 55 minutes of the season to start the game but completely shut it down allowing their opponents to come up with the draw.  Their attack seemed to fizzle as they were unable to maintain possession in the midfield and could push forward in the final third.  It may have been due to Camilo, who had not played in three weeks, losing his legs and Chiumiento leaving the game due to injury.  His replacement, Mustapha Jarju, was unable to maintain the same level that the Swiss playmaker displayed as a withdrawn striker.

By the end of the game it was clearly a mistake to insert John Thorrington on the right side of the backline as the veteran lost Agudelo on the New York goal.  There were a number of other moments when he was drifted into the midfield stretching the backline which opened holes for Richards and Henry to get chances on goal.  Once again the Whitecaps were forced to substitute the midfielder due to another injury and the addition of Leathers was what the backline needed.

While there was some disappointment in the way the game ended, it was the first time the Caps dominated on the road for an extended period.  The trio of Hassli, Chiumiento and Camilo carried the attacking load and their chemistry in the final third was at a very high level.  The Whitecaps will now travel to the west coast to face the Galaxy in LA and hope to extend their strong play for a full 90 minutes in order to pick up their first road win.

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