Vancouver Whitecaps wrapped up their pre-season games this afternoon with a 1-0 loss against reigning MLS Cup champs Colorado Rapids.
The game was played before an invite only crowd of a few thousand and those that braved the wet and dismal Vancouver weather didn’t really have a great game to warm their cockles.
We’ve criticised the Caps FO for the ticketing shambles in the build up to this season, but we always want to give credit where credit’s due here at AFTN and we have to give a big well done to the FO for providing a number of fans with tickets as a thank you gesture for things that had gone awry with them. As we’ve said here before, we would much rather have a FO that reacts positively to criticism and solves and defuses the problems, than one who just carries on regardless.
It was exciting to be inside a blue and white bedecked Empire Field though and that more than made up for the action on the pitch.
The Whitecaps had the better first half chances and it was new DP Eric Hassli that was at the centre of much of them. He’s still finding his feet with his new team and surroundings but the signs are definitely there that he could be a very useful asset in this League.
His size and deft touches impressed those in attendance and I’d love to see what kind of a striking partnership he would form with Omar Salgado. Unfortunately we never got to find out, as the wonderkid replaced Hassli in the 58th minute.
A Hassli/Sanvezzo partnership is another I would like to see. The pace of the two could have devastating results in MLS, but the Brazilian didn’t feature at all today.
As it was, Atiba Harris shared the striking duties this afternoon. Harris is already proving a frustrating player. He’s showing some quality in bursts, but his ball control and shooting accuracy hasn’t impressed in the games I’ve seen him play in so far. Hopefully pre-season rustyness, but he wouldn’t be my number one starting choice up front.
It was a more experienced starting line up for the Caps from last week’s exciting game against Seattle and I have to say, it wasn’t anywhere near that impressive a performance.
The Caps certainly edged the scoreless first half and had the best chance of the game on 55 minutes when Russell Teibert made a great run to the byeline and flashed a shot across goal that forced the Rapids’ Matt Pickens into a diving save. The rebound fell to Terry Dunfield but he hit the ball high and over with the goal at his mercy.
Neither team really threatened to do much damage, but the pace of the Colorado attack was starting to cause the Caps defence more and more problems as the game went on.
Alain Rochat produced what must already be one of the tackles of the season to thwart one particular attack.
The only goal of the game came with eleven minutes remaining after some sloppy Caps defending allowed Sanna Nyassi to break into the box. Nyassi then found the unmarked Jamie Smith and the Scot had time to pick his spot and curl home what proved to be the winner.
It was hard to take too much out of the game and the numerous substitutions definitely played a part in breaking up the flow of the game and the team. The Rapids had pretty much what we would expect to be their first team out there and the Caps more than held their own for most of the match. Very promising stuff indeed.
I think we can probably have a rough idea of who Teitur will now go with as his starting eleven come the 19th, but there are still a few positions that could go either way.
From the three games I’ve seen in person I’d like to see Morfaw, Teibert and Sanvezzo make the first eleven. The AFTN jury is still out on a few, but in Teitur we trust.
Just one more week of training before the season finally starts. It’s felt like an age, but we’re so close you can smell the pulled pork.
Tomorrow, we’ll look at some of the logistics we picked up from being inside Empire today and we’ll have some more pics as well.
Mon the Caps.
FINAL SCORE: Vancouver Whitecaps 0 – 1 Colorado Rapids
VANCOUVER: Jay Nolly (Joe Cannon 45); Jonathan Leathers, Greg Janicki, Michael Boxall, Alain Rochat (Jeb Brovsky 75); Nizar Khalfan (Wes Knight 58), Gershon Koffie (Alexandre Morfaw 58, Philippe Davies 90), Terry Dunfield, Russell Teibert (Blake Wagner 60); Atiba Harris (Long Tan 75), Eric Hassli (Omar Salgado 58)