Report and Reaction: Whitecaps struggle to find chemistry in season opening draw with Charlotte

Report and Reaction: Whitecaps struggle to find chemistry in season opening draw with Charlotte

Vancouver Whitecaps’ long wait for another home opener win will continue for at least one more year following a 1-1 draw with Charlotte FC at BC Place in MLS action on Saturday afternoon.

The Whitecaps haven’t delivered a win in their first home match for a season since 2018 and although they had chances to take all three points in this one, so did the visitors and a draw was probably a fair result in how the whole 90 minutes had played out.

A bumper crowd of nearly 30,000 won’t have been enthralled in an, at-times, somewhat lacklustre match, but Ryan Raposo’s equaliser in the dying embers of first half stoppage time at least cancelled out Iuri Tavares’ 31st minute blast that had given Charlotte the lead. But that was to be all the scoring as both teams had to settle for a share of the points.

The Whitecaps went with a 3-4-3 formation, with Javain Brown coming in at the back for the suspended Mathias Lobarda. The biggest surprise was Alessandro Schopf slotting in to the right wingback role, although that wasn’t to last for long with Pedro Vite sliding over to there early.

Charlotte made the better of the early running with Jere Uronen forcing a near post save from Yohei Takaoka in the 11th minute, before the ‘Caps keeper was called into action eight minutes later to mop up a looping Tavares header.

Ranko Veselinovic had the first Whitecaps chance, with an acrobatic effort in the 21st minute, but moments later the Serbian was adjudged to have brought down Enzo Copetti in the box.

It was a ridiculous call by replacement referee Scott Bowman. VAR agreed and the decision was overturned.

Tristan Blackmon flashed a header wide of the far post in the 29th minute off a whipped in Ryan Gauld free kick.

Two minutes later, Charlotte had the lead after capitalising on a Raposo giveaway.

Brecht Dejaegere sent a low cross into the box, that was superbly dummied by Copetti for Tavares to blast high into the net for his first goal in MLS.

Charlotte should have made it two 10 minutes later when Copetti was played in on goal from a header, but Takaoka was out quickly, producing a great leg save to deny the DP.

And what an important save it proved to be, for instead of heading into the break with a two-goal advantage, Charlotte found themselves going in level.

The ‘Caps had certainly turned up the pressure since going behind, without really creating any clear cut chances.

Five minutes into first half stoppage time the ball came out to Raposo, who hit a weak shot that somehow squeezed in behind Charlotte keeper Kristijan Kahlina and rolled over the line and into the net.

The Whitecaps didn’t deserve to be going in all tied up, but they were naturally delighted that they were.

There needed to be more oomph from Vancouver in the second half in the final third

Schopf had the first real shot in anger after the restart, a long ranger which Kahlina bobbled but got at the second attempt.

The excitement levels had certainly dipped, with a tired looking Charlotte falling out of the game and soaking up Vancouver pressure.

Brown had Kahlina scrambling to his back post to keep out a 74th minute header off a corner and two minutes later, confusion in the Charlotte backline saw them Fafa Picault pounce on a loose ball, but although his shot got under Kahlina, it was cleared away.

The visitors were still a threat and Patrick Agyemang should have done better with a free header in front of goal that Takaoka easily dealt with.

Vancouver were looking the more likely to grab a winner and White flashed a header over with 10 minutes remaining. But that was to be that and a disappointing season opener somewhat fizzled out.

Both teams will be equally happy and unhappy at taking a point but not taking all three. The Whitecaps didn’t deserve to be level at the break but they did deserve to have at least a point from the match come the end of the 90 minutes. The game certainly showed that the ‘Caps still have a work to do to get their talented team firing, especially up front, and their overall squad depth in the middle of the park was highlighted as needing strengthened.

Overall, a point is better than none and with two tough away matches coming up, every one of those is going to be at a premium in the early part of the season.

FINAL SCORE: Vancouver Whitecaps 1 – 1 Charlotte FC

ATT: 29,624

31′ – CLT – Iuri Tavares
45’+5 – VAN – Ryan Raposo (Pedro Vite)

Possession: VAN 50% – CLT 50%
Shots: VAN 10 – CLT 8
Shots on Goal: VAN 6 – CLT 5
Saves: VAN 4 – CLT 5
Fouls: VAN 7 – CLT 11
Offsides: VAN 1 – CLT 0
Corners: VAN 5 – CLT 5

44′ – CLT – Ashley Westwood
57′ – VAN – Andrés Cubas
61′ – VAN – Tristan Blackmon
79′ – CLT – Iuri Tavares

VANCOUVER WHITECAPS: 1.Yohei Takaoka; 23.Javain Brown, 4.Ranko Veselinović, 6.Tristan Blackmon; 8.Alessandro Schöpf (16.Sebastian Berhalter 67′), 20.Andrés Cubas, 45.Pedro Vite (22.Ali Ahmed 77′), 7.Ryan Raposo (14.Luís Martins 78′); 19.Damir Kreilach (11.Fafà Picault 67′), 24.Brian White (28.Levonte Johnson 90’+4), 25.Ryan Gauld © [Substitutes not used: 32.Isaac Boehmer, 12.Belal Halbouni, 15.Bjørn Inge Utvik, 92.Jay Herdman]

CHARLOTTE: 1.Kristijan Kahlina; 14.Nathan Byrne, 21.Jere Uronen, 29.Adilson Malanda; 8.Ashley Westwood ©, 10.Brecht Dejaegere (33.Patrick Agyemang 70′), 30.Junior Urso, 34.Andrew Privett; 9.Enzo Copetti (37.Scott Arfield 83′), 18.Kerwin Vargas, 38.Iuri Tavares (27.Nimfasha Berchimas 83′) [Substitutes not used: 22.David Bingham, 6.Bill Tuiloma, 20.João Pedr]


2024 MLS: Vancouver Whitecaps v Charlotte FC (02/03/2024)




On the game:

“Overall we did start a little bit sleepy. A lot of the things that we did plan on doing, we just didn’t execute. Whether it was for a lack of understanding, I’m not sure. We gave them some tactical adjustments, but at the beginning we just looked a little bit sleepy. I thought that they responded after the first 15-20 minutes. We gave them a couple adjustments and they were willing to do it, and it helped. We got a little bit more pressure on their back two and we avoided them to play that long switch into their wide players that was giving us troubles. From there, I thought we slowly moved into the game and started to take over.”

On the fans:

“The fans were amazing. It was the biggest record of fans of any home opener, so we have to thank them. I think the atmosphere was great. I don’t think it was anything to do with the atmosphere that didn’t get us going, I think in general we just looked a little bit sleepy, and we needed a little bit of time to get into the game.”

On a slow start compared with Charlotte having played already:

“I think in hindsight it does [possibly impact the game]. This is the first time we’ve played a game this type of intensity since Tigres and you can try to replicate that as much as you want but preseason friendlies are never quite the same. I can’t say for sure, but that definitely could be something.”

On if the tying goal changed the halftime talk:

“I think we would have came up with the exact same ideas. I mean, nothing really would have changed in terms of the advice or the feedback we wanted to give the players at halftime. We knew what we needed to change, we knew what we wanted to try and adjust, but it definitely gave me a little bit of a feeling that we were back in the game a little bit more. And I think as a player, it’s always in the back of your mind when you’re losing, maybe you get a little bit more anxious, maybe you do the things that maybe you’re not meant to do because you’re thinking about that. But I think that also relieves a little bit of pressure on them. And that’s really important.”


On the first half:

“Definitely a slow start. But I think the guys reacted well, especially in the second half I think we woke up, we showed that we can be a team dictating the play. I think some chances were there for us. Obviously we’re going to be a little bit disappointed that we didn’t come out with the three points especially at home for the first game for our fans, but we’ll look to make things right in the next game, tough game against San Jose, but I’m happy to get out of there with no injuries and keep moving on.”

On the second half:

“I think it’s being at home. We realize this is a game to step up. You know the type of team, especially this year we want to go after games, especially here. I think recollecting in the locker room, talking about things that we could do better, adjusting, bringing other guys onto the field, fresh legs, I think that all helped push the game that way. I think the guys did a good job of showing how we want to go after games in the second half.”

Authored by: Michael McColl

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.