The Vancouver Whitecaps and Toronto FC faced off in an All-Canadian match-up, and much was left to be desired. The first half was nothing short of a chess match, with neither side willing to venture forward enough to make an impact or show their hand. Although the second half showcased a few goals, ‘Caps fans are surely taking another loss with a grain of salt, much like that of the loss against San Jose.
Three Things the Vancouver Whitecaps Learned Against Toronto FC
For the second straight match, the Whitecaps lost to a side that they easily could have gotten a result from. Despite the two losses, they don’t say much about the season ahead, especially when you take into account that all five goals given up were when the ‘Caps were down a man. There was, however, a few important notes to take from the Toronto match moving forward.
Sheanon Williams Was a Fantastic Signing
While many average soccer fans tend to focus on the men scoring the goals, the truly knowledgeable understand the importance of a strong and composed back line. Sheanon Williams brings both of those qualities to the ‘Caps organization.
Williams is an MLS veteran, an invaluable asset that the ‘Caps needed at the fullback position. Williams looked solid against Toronto, much the same as he has in every appearance thus far for Vancouver. It’s a rare occasion when you see Williams out of position, making the life of Tim Parker and Kendall Waston much easier knowing they have a truly top quality player to their right.
On top of being fantastic defensively and having great positional awareness, Williams adds another dimension to the attack coming from the wings. Multiple times throughout the short season to this point Williams has made smartly-timed runs up the right flank, allowing him to put in dangerous out-swinging crosses in the process. ‘Caps fans should be, and obviously are, thankful to have added Williams before the beginning of this season.
Another note to emphasize on Williams is that he is a great mentor of sorts to have around for newest Superdraft selection Jake Nerwinski. The young right back has been given a few opportunities, making good for the most part, but will do well to take any lessons he is offered from Williams.
Spencer Richey is a Promising Prospect
Richey has been a solid netminder for Whitecaps 2, earning him a few call ups to the senior team when in need. Last season for WFC2, Richey started in 14 regular season matches and had a record of 6-4-4, with a 1.29 goals-against average. These aren’t world-beating numbers, but are very respectable.
It has become obvious that Richey, through his performances for WFC2 and in training, has impressed the coaching staff enough to get his MLS debut, rather then going with current back up option Paolo Tornaghi. And at only 24 years old, Richey has time on his side to keep pushing for the full-time back up role to Ousted.
Despite his MLS debut being soured by the lack of a clean sheet and a 2-0 loss, Richey showed he has quick reactions and is an explosive goalkeeper. Shortly after halftime Richey was tested with a nice shot heading towards the upper righthand corner, when looking at the net, and exploded from his stance to parry the ball away for a corner. This required a tremendous amount of athleticism and a fast reaction, and Richey showed time and time again throughout the second half that he has both of those.
Despite the fact that Tornaghi will likely be the backup moving forward, Richey has definitely given the coaching staff quite a bit to think about. Don’t be surprised if you continue to see Richey getting the odd start here and there throughout the season, maybe even in the AMWAY Canadian Championship.
This Team Gelling is Going to Take Time (But Don’t Worry too Much!)
It’s safe to say that it’s going to take a bit of time for the team to gel the way they are capable of to grind out tough results in matches like the last two against San Jose and Toronto. There isn’t an air of anger or frustration, but rather an acceptance that they are vastly superior to this and it’s been a tough ask balancing the competitions and the tight schedule.
While the schedule shouldn’t be taken as an excuse, the CONCACAF Champions League has definitely taken a toll on the legs of the Whitecaps. It has also made it immeasurably difficult for Carl Robinson and his coaching staff to find a sense of fluidity in play with an ever-changing roster.
Being only three games into the regular season is something that should be continually taken into account, as it’s highly unlikely that the team will continue to drop points in matches like that of Philadelphia and San Jose. Only time, and a less packed schedule, will remedy the short-term woes the ‘Caps are currently facing. And when they find their feet, they’re going to be a tough team to handle with the squad at their disposal.