Whitecaps get their Manneh back

The problem with playing a system that actively allows the opposition to have more possession of the ball is that from time to time you are going to run into a team that actually know how to use that possession effectively.

And that’s what happened to the Vancouver Whitecaps in their 2-2 tie at BC Place with the Columbus Crew on Saturday afternoon.

By the end the Whitecaps were more than happy to come away with a point after seeing Kekuta Manneh return bearing gifts of an assist and a goal to cancel out Fredy Montero’s early strike.

What we saw from Manneh was exactly why he was both exciting and frustrating to watch in a Whitecaps uniform.

Two fantastic moments that turned the game and two moments (a wildly hit shot from twelve yards out in the first half and an errant pass that would have set a teammate free in the second) that probably mean he will never achieve the highest level.

Still, it was nice that he got a round of applause at the start and when being substituted but it was a tad too much for some Whitecaps fans to actually applaud his goal.

I mean, come on!

Overall Carl Robinson will perhaps feel that this game wasn’t so much a case of his system not working as it was a case of his players not playing the system correctly because Tchani and Aly Ghazal frequently left too much space open in the centre of the field and Fredy Montero and Jordy Reyna were often two isolated islands desperately hoping others would join them to form an attacking archipelago.

It wasn’t that Shea and Techera offered nothing going forward, it was just their inability to consistently support the front two created the disconnect we’ve seen so often in the past.

It was still pretty entertaining stuff though and Jordy Reyna was twice denied by the woodwork as he put in a particularly lively second half shift.

But if this game foreshadows the playoffs then there are areas for concern.

Columbus had clearly worked out that closing down the Whitecaps central defenders can disrupt the whole game and that playing between the lines of the midfield and the attack asks questions that Vancouver aren’t always able to answer.

No doubt more than a few MLS coaches will be taking notes on those particular points of interest.

On the positive side the Whitecaps once again demonstrated that almost no game is a lost cause and even though Robinson reverted to the tactical long shots of throwing Erik Hurtado up front and playing Alphonso Davies at left back they somehow managed to eke out the kind of point that could prove vital come season end.

Neither will it do them any harm to carry around the idea that finding a last minute goal is something they are always capable of achieving.

The Whitecaps remain top of the Western Conference and at the start of this run of home games most of us would have taken ten points from the four as a decent haul.

That can be achieved with a victory over the Colorado Rapids next Saturday but they are a team who will happily bunker down and let the Whitecaps come onto them and that’s a different challenge entirely.

Right now it’s all good but it’s still too early to say whether those few clouds on the horizon will dissipate to reveal the sun or begin to accumulate to bring rain.

Stay tuned for the traffic report.

Time for the Soccer Shorts player ratings.

Ousted-6, Nerwinski-6, Parker-5.5, Waston-6, Harvey-6, Ghazal-5.5, Tchani-5.5, Techera-5, Shea-6, Reyna-6.5, Montero-6.5* 


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