Whitecaps get win over Portland
The Vancouver Whitecaps started this season off slow, losing five times in 10 games, despite high expectations for this young, talented roster. Many of their top players—especially the attackers—didn't have the touch early on, and the result was a rough start and a fanbase looking for answers.
But manager Carl Robinson has to be pleased after his players appeared to get things back together in a statement 2-1 victory against the Portland Timbers Saturday afternoon.
It wasn't Kekuta Manneh or Octavio Rivero or even Pedro Morales who impressed against the defending champs. Rather, it was players like Masato Kudo and Christian Bolaños and Cristian Techera who were among the best players on the field. Those three attackers combined for three goals and an assist on the night, and were constantly running at the Timbers' defense.
The two goals they scored weren't the prettiest—the first a near-post screamer that caught Jake Gleeson leaning and the second a major error from the goalkeeper—but they did the job, and rewarded the 'Caps for consistent attacking play.
Vancouver did a good job of constantly challenging the opposing backline with speedy counters and runs down the wing, with Bolaños and Techera often cutting in and either taking a shot or sending a ball in the box. They kept possession of the ball—they ended up with 57%—and went with less of a route 1 approach to the game, instead being more patient with their passes and probing Portland's defense, waiting until a high-percentage opportunity arose rather than just blasting the ball forward whenever they got a chance.
They still have a long way to go, though. Both of their goals should have been saved by Gleeson, they continue to miss Steven Beitashour at right-back, and the central midfield pairing of Pedro Morales and Matias Laba isn't on the level it should be just yet.
It was a good result for the Whitecaps, but they have plenty of problems they still have to fix. In the meantime, they will focus on hosting the Chicago Fire on Wednesday.
Crew SC are in trouble
I give you that extra "literally" because when Kei Kamara and Federico Higuain started squabbling like two teenage girls over who should take a penalty-kick in the middle of the game, that's the word that came to my head. Here's how I imagined that discussion went:
Kamara: If you don't let me take it, I'll, like, literally tell mom. My hat-trick. Mine, all mine!
Higuain: No, it's mine. I'm literally older than you, so it's mine.
Kamara: What are talking about? I'm older than you. You're an idiot.
Higuain: No you're an idiot.
Michael Parkhurst: Girls, you're both ugly. Federico, you're taking it because I said so.
Kamara: Fine! (walks away in a humph)
Okay, that's really inaccurate. It's also offensive to all teenage girls.
According to MLSsoccer.com, it was more civilized and mature than that. Not by much, though.
Apparently, the two debated for a little bit—Kamara wanted to take it because he was on a hat-trick, while Higuain wanted to take it because goals are fun—before Parkhurst, the team's captain, intervened on advice from goalkeeper Steve Clark. Parkhurst allowed Higuain to take it because Kamara took the last PK. The forward was not pleased with the result of this argument, and vented his concerns to the Columbus media after the match:
"That’s selfishness. That’s not a teammate," he said about Higuain.
"PK goals," Kamara said, with a laugh. "That’s great. Why did I lose the Golden Boot last year? How many PK goals did I score before Giovinco?"
"I haven’t really had to depend on Pipa at all," Kamara said. "How long have I been here? How many goals have I scored? How many have come from his assists? One, maybe two. I don’t depend on him. I depend on Ethan, I depend on my outside backs to pass me balls."
Clearly, Kamara is on bad terms with Higuain, and it goes beyond this instance.
Any basketball fans remember Shaq and Kobe? Those two legends seemed like they didn't like each other very much. But the difference between them and Higuain and Kamara was that the Lakers actually won games, and championships. If the Crew keep going at this rate, they won't even make the playoffs this year.
So unless Phil Jackson is your coach, it's never good when your two best players hate each other. And it's worse when you blow a three goal lead at home and fall to ninth in a mediocre conference. Columbus look nothing like the team that almost won a trophy last year.
Coach Gregg Berhalter has to fix things, and soon, because the Crew have three tough games coming up, and more losses could mean falling deeper into the hole they have dug themselves into.
—Chris Wondolowski missed a penalty for the first time in forever and the San Jose Earthquakes dropped points in Seattle.
.—The Houston Dynamo finally won a game, beating flailing Sporting KC at home on Saturday.