A Night Of Missed Opportunities: Three Takeaways from Tigres UANL vs Vancouver Whitecaps

A Night Of Missed Opportunities: Three Takeaways from Tigres UANL vs Vancouver Whitecaps

(Photo Credit: CONCACAF.com)

It was another bitter defeat for the Whitecaps on Wednesday. It wasn’t because they weren’t up to par against a high-flying Tigres UANL side in Monterrey, Mexico, but rather, it was that they could have – and should have – gotten so much more for these two matches.

#1: A Lack of Killer Instinct the Difference

When referee Hector Martinez blew for the half-time whistle, you could feel the tension in El Estadio Universitario. It was mostly because the home fans knew that their team got away with being tied at the break. The Whitecaps dominated early proceedings vs Tigres and, in much the same way as last weekend at Langford, should have had more on the board that what was on there.

The ‘Caps had three brilliant chances in the first half, with one for Damir Kreilach and two for Mathias Laborda. None of them were taken. And it’s always a nerve-wracking position to be in when you know that you should be ahead, but you are not. That is because you know the opposition can take advantage of it to flip the script and that’s exactly what Tigres did.

Three clinical second half goals made it seem like it was easy work for the Mexican side, but it was far from an easy match for them. Even after Tigres scored the first goal, the Whitecaps stayed on top and created more opportunities. But all of them went abegging. And as the old saying goes, “those who do not score the goals, see them roll in”.

Granted, this is still a side in pre-season form. The fact they went toe-to-toe with an in-form Tigres side in early February is still an impressive result. But Sartini will be hopeful that these missed chances become minimized as the MLS season begins.

#2: Substitutions Show Promise for MLS Season

One of the bright spots for the Whitecaps was in the substitutions, primarily in Fafa Picault. Last week against Tigres, Fafa only had a brief cameo as an inside forward, but today we saw a little more of what the Haitian veteran can offer.

He immediately made an attacking impact, forcing Tigres keeper Nahuel Guzman into a save and winning a corner. He should have gotten an assist as he headed down a wonderful Laborda cross to put it on a plate for White, only for him to miss it. Picault had flashes across his cameo that should inspire some confidence for Whitecaps fans. The biggest thing that was missing for the team last season was the ability to bring on some difference-makers off the bench in tough games where their usual stars were faltering. With Kreilach scoring last week and Picault’s positive play this week, they may be the answer to those missing links.

And unless Brian White and Ryan Gauld have another career year, it will be good to have some more firepower bringing in the goals and assists in 2024.

Fafa Picault looks to the skies as Brian White fails to bury his pass across goal
(Photo Credit: CONCACAF.com)

#3: Perfect Preparation for Pre-Season

While the result in the end was understandably disappointing, the performances do spark excitement for what could be ahead for the Whitecaps. Under Vanni Sartini, they have historically been slow out of the gates in MLS play. They went 2-2-6 (eight points out of 30) in the opening 10 matches of the 2022 season, before substantially improving in 2023 with a 3-5-2 record (14 points out of 30). The ‘Caps did have to wait until Matchday 6 to get their first win last season, despite some solid performances.

With these two gigantic matches now under their belt, they might be more prepared than ever to go into the MLS season and start well. Especially since, ultimately, it was that slow start last season that cost the Whitecaps a higher position in the table and therefore an easier route in the playoffs. With lessons learned, Sartini and co. might be able to put on a feat not yet seen from his tenure: starting the season with a win.

A last pre-season trip to California awaits the Whitecaps before the start of the MLS season, where Charlotte FC will visit BC Place on March 2nd. This presents a prime opportunity for the Whitecaps to start as they mean to go on, and make good on all the impressive reactions from local and rivals fans alike after these two matches.

Authored by: Felipe Vallejo

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