There’s a sense in which there is no point in analysing the Vancouver Whitecaps’ 2-1 defeat to the New England Revolution at BC Place on Saturday afternoon.
After all the Whitecaps were without three starters due to suspension, had players returning from the COPA America and this was also the first game back from an extended break.
But maybe there is no sense in analysing any game of soccer?
Fabricating a narrative from a series of random occurrences may have helped humanity create cohesive and coherent societies but when applied to people kicking a ball around it seems futile at best.
So let’s go with a Festivus style “Airing of Grievances” instead and pick out individuals to complain about; that seems much more in tune with the current zeitgeist.
Ismail Elfath- Yes it’s tedious to keep going on about MLS refereeing but the current EURO 2016 tournament has been a timely reminder of what good officiating looks like.
Elfath isn’t one of the worst referees in the League but on Saturday he turned a fairly benign affair into a fractious occasion simply because he seemed to be operating an “if in doubt blow the whistle” policy until the shrill sound of his small ball oscillating in air simply became the signal for exasperation and confusion.
Let the players play.
Erik Hurtado- Hurtado has been a pleasant surprise this season proving himself to be a useful member of an MLS squad.
But he just can’t play the lone striker role effectively. His hold up play may have improved but his link up play is still lacking and he should really only be used as either a late substitute or as one of a pair of forwards (as he was with Manneh in Toronto where his own nuisance value created space for his partner).
Actually none of this is his fault and the blame should go to Carl Robinson for the tactical lineup against New England but nobody ever said Festivus was fair!
Russell Teibert- It’s hard to know where Teibert goes from here on in. Like Hurtado he’s a useful member on an MLS squad (which is fine for the Whitecaps) but he’s not progressing as a player.
He may in fact be regressing because his play has become as predictable as his media interviews.
And if we were forced to choose one word to describe Teibert it would have to be “safe” because he almost always opts for the safest pass possible and even his crosses are designed to be lofted into the right area rather than pose any actual danger.
There was a time when Teibert could whip in a genuinely threatening ball, and obviously he still has that ability, but somewhere along the line he appears to have lost the confidence to try it anymore.
There was also a period late in the second half when New England were sitting deep yet both he and Matias Laba were still occupying space closer to the centre circle than the opposition penalty area. The Whitecaps were crying out for an extra body further forward but to no avail.
The blame for that is certainly as much on Laba and Robinson as it is on Teibert but nobody ever said Festivus was fair!
Cristian Techera- Techera may well be taking the prize for “least return for salary spent” in the Whitecaps squad at the moment as he has transformed from a player who last season was a constant goal threat and all around nuisance (in a good way) to a player for whom the most positive thing we can say is that “his set piece delivery isn’t bad”.
In a game where the Whitecaps spent a deal of the second period peppering the opposition penalty area Techera never once came within a sniff of a chance.
That would have been unimaginable last season and he’s surely lost the right to a place in the starting eleven.
Hopefully we all feel better for venting and before we move on to the “Feats of Strength” here are the Soccer Shorts player ratings.
Ousted-6, Smith-5, Parker-6, Jacobson-6, Harvey-6*, Laba-5, Teibert-5, Techera-4, Mezquida-6, Manneh-5, Hurtado-5 (Pérez -5, Bolaños -5)