Vancouver Whitecaps draw a blank in New England

VANCOUVER, BC - MARCH 6: Christian Bolanos
VANCOUVER, BC - MARCH 6: Christian Bolanos /

Recapping the key takeaways as Vancouver Whitecaps FC ended their three-game road trip with a 1-0 loss against the New England Revolution

The Vancouver Whitecaps stumbled their way to a 1-0 loss to the New England Revolution on Saturday evening. In a match with few highlights, a second-half goal from Teal Bunbury was the only difference between the two sides.

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It was an evenly-balanced match for the most part. The Whitecaps, making seven changes from last week’s 2-2 draw in Colorado, were happy to sit back and try and maintain the clean sheet. The Revs, meanwhile, had little to offer offensively, aside from crosses and long-distance shooting.

Neither side looked particularly likely to break the deadlock, until the 53rd minute when Bunbury got away from Tim Parker and finished off a through-ball from Kelyn Rowe.

After going behind, the Whitecaps tried to get started offensively, and put together some chances to equalize. Cristian Techera came the closest, hitting the crossbar from a free kick. But Vancouver could not find the levelling goal.

Road trip: done. Next up: Home stand

The Whitecaps end their road trip with four points from three games, including a stunning 4-0 win in Dallas, a draw in Colorado, and Saturday night’s loss. Four points was about what an optimist would have hoped for, considering the ‘Caps had never even picked up a point in Texas before.

Next on the list, however, comes a home stand that may make or break Vancouver’s playoff hopes. From August 19th to September 23rd, the ‘Caps play seven matches. Six are at BC Place, and five of those are against Western Conference teams.

The West is incredibly close right now; six points separate conference leaders Houston from the Whitecaps, just below the red line.

Three Takeaways:

1. Fullbacks impress

Both Jake Nerwinski at right back and Marcel de Jong at left back had an excellent game. Nerwinski has all but claimed the spot for his own, with this willingness to take on his opposing fullback and whip dangerous crosses into the box. De Jong saw less action but had a tidy game and put in some solid tackles. Jordan Harvey has been showing his age this season and based on this game, as well as his Gold Cup performances for Canada, de Jong has earned the right to a run of games.

2. Debut for Marinovic

Carl Robinson opted to make seven changes to his starting XI, but the most surprising was almost certainly in goal. David Ousted was benched for the first time this year, and New Zealand international goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic made his Whitecaps debut. Marinovic, signed in the recently-closed transfer window, made a couple of key saves and showed plenty of confidence coming off his line. There was nothing he could do about the goal, although he may have been rattled after being kicked in the head a couple of minutes earlier.

3. Laba injury inspires fear

If this match ends up having a significant impact on the Whitecaps season, it will likely be due to the injury sustained by Matías Laba in the first half. Laba went down clutching his knee after one of his trademark tackles. He soldiered on for a couple of minutes but was withdrawn soon after. The extent of the injury is not yet known, but Robinson confirmed after the match that it doesn’t look good for Laba. The decision to sign defensive midfielder Aly Ghazal in midweek suddenly seems prescient.

Next: Whitecaps sign Egyptian midfielder Aly Ghazal

Next up, the Whitecaps will host Western Conference leaders Houston Dynamo on Saturday night at BC Place. Houston are poor travellers (one win and seven losses on the road this season), and have a particularly poor record in Vancouver, making this a good opportunity for the ‘Caps to close the gap.