The San Jose match is one that most Vancouver Whitecaps fans will soon want to move on from. Luckily for the club and its fans, there’s a match on Tuesday that dwarfs this one in the grand scheme of things. The ‘Caps fielded a “weaker” squad against the Earthquakes, but it didn’t seem the soccer gods were interested in giving them a good result to head into the Tigres match on Tuesday.
Three Things the Vancouver Whitecaps Learned Against San Jose
The ‘Caps Always Had Their Sights Set on Tigres, and Rightly So
It goes without saying that the match on Tuesday in Mexico is arguably the most important match in club history. Because of this, many of the names you’d normally see on the teamsheet were rightfully given a rest in preparation for it.
Defensive mainstay Tim Parker was given a break, giving Christian Dean another start after his stellar play against Philadelphia last weekend. Not only was this a smart move to rest Parker, but Dean was certainly due for another start. It’s always a good idea to let a player in form run with it, hopefully boosting morale and confidence for the season ahead.
On top of Parker, Sheanon Williams was also given a rest to and the young man Jake Nerwinski started. Williams is obviously the best option at this time, but Nerwinski is proving to be a solid rotation option with a good deal of upside for the future. On top of his talent he seems to be one of the most fit players on the pitch at any given point, showing what kind of work ethic the young fullback has.
Robinson also made a smart move by taking off Manneh in the 61st, as well as bringing on Montero for Hurtado at the same time, to give Manneh a rest and Montero a short run out to get his legs under him and hopefully be able to knock a goal or two into the back of the net on Tuesday.
The Depth in Defense is Pivotal
The depth on the back line for Vancouver could very well prove to be a pivotal cog in what is hopefully a successful season. Despite giving up three goals against San Jose, all after going a man down, the defenders all still played quite well.
For the second game in a row Christian Dean was solid in the back. He looked strong against Philadelphia last weekend alongside Parker. He then looked just as competent alongside Waston in San Jose. Some might say this creates a problem on who will be the center back duo, but having three that are all solid and able to play in any combination makes for only great things for the ‘Caps.
Along with the center backs, the fullbacks are also all having a good season thus far, albeit only a few games into the year. Sheanon Williams looks like his ever-dependent self, Nerwinski is fit as heck and looks to have some good upsides to his game. Jordan Harvey has been good in every match. Also, Waston looks to be his normally dominant self on the back line. This depth is going to push the ‘Caps focus to attack, and if they can compliment the defensive output this will surely be a successful season.
MLS Referee Standards Have Dramatically Improved
This may not have something to do directly with the Whitecaps themselves, but they were both hurt and helped by the correct calls from both the center and the assistant referees in San Jose. The referee absolutely made the right call on the Ousted attempted tackle for his sending off. While many would argue that his studs were down and there was no malicious intent, he denied an obvious goalscoring opportunity and was the last man. Definite red card.
Another decision that was made during the game, and another that was correct, was when Chris Wondolowski was called offside in the 37th minute. Although it was the near side of the field and the assistant referee should always get that right, it’s not always a given that they will. Overall, the crew on hand of Drew Fischer, Jeremy Hanson, and Daniel Belleau deserve credit for a game well called.
While it may just be one match over the course of an entire season, this seems to be a growing trend in MLS. Not only has the skill level of the players in the league went up over the last five years, but so too has the knowledge and ability of the men calling the matches every week. Kudos to both MLS and everyone involved in referee development in what can be considered another key step forward for a still young league, relative to others around the world.