Whitecaps take 4 out of 6 Points to start 2021 season

by Michael Martinez
Image via Whitecaps FC Twitter

Welcome back to the 2021 regular season!! I for one am happy there is no MLS Is Back tournament this time around. Don’t get me wrong, it was a nice concept last year, but overall pretty useless. A lot of players opted out of the tournament and it doesn’t carry much merit. I mean look at what the Timbers just posted… 

Just embarrassing really. 

ANYWAYS, we are back with a new season, new look, and of course, some new hot takes as well. We’re going to start off with a double match review! Since I missed the first match, I figured I may as well knock both out of the way. It will also be a bit different than my usual post match reviews so just know, this will NOT be the norm. This is going to be a long one so y’all better be ready!

The first match of the 2021 season was against Cascadian rivals, the Portland Timbers. We started off the campaign with a win right off the bat! Thanks to a 49th minute goal from none other than Lucas Cavallini and some stout defence, the match ended 1-0 in favor of the Whitecaps. 

Match Stats:

Scoring Summary

49’ – VAN – Lucas Cavallini (assisted by Cristián Gutiérrez)

Possession: VAN 51.2% – POR 48.8%

Shots: VAN 6 – POR 8

Shots on Goal: VAN 2 – POR 2

Saves: VAN 2 – POR 1

Fouls: VAN 14 – POR 14

Corners: VAN 5 – POR 2

Cautions:

21’ – VAN – Ranko Veselinović (Yellow)

64’ – VAN – Michael Baldisimo (Yellow)

68’ – POR – Dario Zuparic (Yellow)

Post Match Thoughts: 

This match was a lot of fun to watch to be honest. The team had some great momentum going into the match based on preseason. MDS praised his team’s ability to press hard and transition quick… We saw the team press well, but it feels like he may have exaggerated a bit. There were moments where the team reacted a bit late and we could have put the game away sooner. That’s just my opinion and I hope the team can prove me wrong. 

“I really wanted this win for the Vancouver fans, and everybody that is (at) home and not being able to be at the stadium not being able to be with us,” Dos Santos told reporters after the game. “You know when you play Portland, you can only remember all the fans in Vancouver, and that that one is for them.”

In terms of the overall performance, it would be hard to describe it as masterclass, but the battle effort was strong. Our defence was stingy and the offense came to life when they needed to, making it a pretty solid victory. There are still a few tactics that might need to be weeded out, especially in terms of how they generate chances, which could change with the signing of a #10. But with it still being early in the season, you have to be quite happy with what the Whitecaps did in this one, because as Dos Santos said in the post match presser, there is still work to be done going forward. 

What really stood out to me in this match was the team’s shape. The boys kept it tight and utilized the fullbacks. It is something that we started to see at the end of the 2020 season and MDS kept it going into the first match of this new season. If the team can continue to build their defensive shape and tweak the offensive game, then I have no reason to believe that the Whitecaps won’t at least make a playoff spot. 

Time for match number 2!! Sorry this is such a long read… I just felt it would be easier having both in one piece rather than two separate ones back to back. So yeah, here we are. 

Image via Whitecaps FC Twitter

This last Saturday, our boys took on our Canadian rivals, Toronto FC. Thanks to a strong second half effort filled with a pair of goals, the Whitecaps had the chance to take 3 points from Toronto! But thanks to a defensive blunder in the 83rd minute, the match ended 2-2 with the boys leaving Orlando with 1 point instead of all 3. 

Match Stats:

Scoring Summary:

7’ – TOR – Luke Singh

55’ – VAN – Cristian Dájome 

70’ – VAN – Andy Rose (assisted by Cristián Gutiérrez)

83’ – TOR – Jonathan Osorio

Possession: TOR 52.5% – VAN 47.5%

Shots: TOR 12 – VAN 8

Shots on Goal: TOR 5 – VAN 6

Saves: TOR X – VAN X

Fouls: TOR 13 – VAN 9

Corners: TOR 7 – VAN 5

Cautions:

6’ – VAN – Cristián Gutiérrez (Yellow)

64’ – TOR – Michael Bradley (Yellow)

70’ – TOR – Omar Gonzalez (Yellow)

Post Match Thoughts: 

If you would have asked me if I would be happy with a draw against Toronto before the match, you would have gotten a swift yes. But this match was not one to be happy leaving with one point. If anything, it’s a bit painful really. The Whitecaps played their hearts out after being down 0-1 at the half. The fact that they fought their way back to make it 2-1 is always exciting to see. Especially after what we have seen the past couple years from MDS’s Whitecaps. 

“This is a good point,” Whitecaps head coach, Marc Dos Santos, said after the game. “But then, with the last chance that we had, the positive thing is that when I spoke with the players in the middle of the field, they were upset. They were upset about not getting the three points, so that’s a very good sign.”

The team came out ready to play right from the bat. Keeping that same tempo from their previous win against the Timbers. Toronto capitalized early and held on until the half. Just like last week, the Whitecaps came out of the halftime break full of energy. Thanks to the two second half goals from Dájome and none other than Andy Rose, it looked like we were going to take 3 points from Toronto of all teams! Then the 83rd minute happened… I don’t have many words for this so you can just watch the clip…

Like I said, I do not have words to describe this goal. 

Despite that absolute howler, it was a pretty good performance from the Whitecaps. However, as they did well to battle back from down 1 goal in tough weather conditions. Naturally, they, and the fans as well, will feel like it was 2 points dropped instead of 1 point gained, but as MDS noted in the post match presser, picking up 3 points at home and 1 on the road from their first two games is pretty darn good in the big picture. 

Lastly, speaking about a couple new guys, it’s important to bring up the debuts of Caio Alexandre and Bruno Gaspar off of the bench in this one, as they finally got onto the pitch. They didn’t get to show much, but Alexandre looked tidy on the ball, while Gaspar had a few good flashes, so hopefully we can see more of them next week against Colorado.

As I mentioned much earlier, the fact that they picked up 4 out of 6 points against early-season favorites Portland and Toronto can only be seen as a positive. Especially when you take into account how the team has looked over the last few seasons. The team looks exciting, the players look hungry, and the fans are ready to see this team succeed. I can’t wait to see what this team does next. 

Unbeaten in two matches, the Whitecaps now head back to Utah to prepare for a Western Conference clash against the Colorado Rapids next Sunday, May 2. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. PT live on TSN1/3 and AM730.

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