The Vancouver Whitecaps secured their first win of the 2017 MLS season Saturday against the Los Angeles Galaxy. If there is one thing that could be said about the match, it’s that there is one important player in each section of the squad, with the attack, midfield, and back line all having an individual player stepping up to play a role needed to win.
Three Things the Vancouver Whitecaps Learned Against the Los Angeles Galaxy
In order for the ‘Caps to reach the levels they expect of themselves, the squad needs to follow the lead of these three players moving forward.
Attack: Fredy Montero
While his transition back to MLS play has been a relatively modest one through the first three matches, Fredy Montero showed against the Galaxy just how good he can be. He had a goal and an assist, and he looked dangerous every time he touched the ball. Montero has put out this type of performance many times in MLS play, but this was his first truly impressive match in the young season for the ‘Caps.
The attack hasn’t necessarily been an issue so far, more so discipline, but it has been leaving much to be desired after all but the San Jose match (for the first 20 or so minutes). Montero is starting to look comfortable in combination play with the likes of Christian Bolaños and Cristian Techera, leaving much optimism to be had that the Whitecaps can have a very potent attack moving forward.
With just 179 minutes played over four matches to this point, Montero has five shots in total, with two of them being on target. That is a shot roughly every 36 minutes, which is a number that’s likely to get smaller with Montero meshing into the squad more and more as the season goes on. If anything can be said, Montero is proving he should well be the main attacking player for Vancouver moving forward.
Midfield: Christian Bolaños
While the play and leadership of Andrew Jacobson should be taken into account, the player who has revitalized the midfield is that of Christian Bolaños. Bolaños combines well in the midfield with everyone else on the pitch, looking to always be on the right page in attacking thoughts. He has become the creative force that many believe him to be, and he always seems to be involved in all the most lethal attacking moves the ‘Caps create.
There were multiple times in the Galaxy match where Bolaños put a ball through the middle of the opposing back line to create opportunities for the men in front of him, something that will work wonderfully with the style of Montero. His creativity and ability to improvise in the matter of a split second has seen some very beautiful passing plays so far in this young season. That won’t let up anytime soon.
Having Bolaños in the middle of the field makes it easier for the likes of Montero, Techera, Alphonso Davies, and other attacking men to focus on making smart runs rather than working their tails off just to get open. Bolaños sees the field in front of him wonderfully, and he deserves much of the praise for the fantastic second half the ‘Caps had against the Galaxy.
Defense: Tim Parker
It is quite easy to say that the defense is the most consistent part of the Whitecaps squad currently. Up until the match against the Galaxy, the ‘Caps hadn’t given up a goal with 11 men on the field. Despite this stat being debunked against L.A., there is every reason to believe they will continue to be very solid throughout the rest of the season, and they should give the ‘Caps freedom in the midfield and attack to play the way they want.
The first name that should be on the lips of ‘Caps supporters everywhere should be none other than Tim Parker. Parker has been a rock on the back line, and has been extremely efficient in playing the ball out of the back as well. He has continually shown the quality he obviously has in the first three matches, and is starting to become something of a leader in the back end for the ‘Caps.
It can be said with great confidence that Parker has arguably been one of the best, if not the best, players on the field this season for Vancouver. He wins a great deal of his tackles and aerial duels, gives Vancouver a strong passing center back, and sees the field well after winning the ball. His play has improved greatly in cutting down passing lanes and making interceptions on incisive through balls. Parker has played fantastically in his 270 minutes so far, and it’s a safe bet to say that this will continue throughout the remainder of the 2017 season.