ANALYSIS – The Vancouver Whitecaps suffered their second straight defeat in the MLS, falling to a 2-1 deficit at the hands of a rejuvenated FC Dallas. After going winless for their three previous matches, Dallas has now won two games back-to-back. Meanwhile, for the Whitecaps, this puts them in ninth position in the Western Conference ahead of a crucial home match against Cascadia Cup Rivals Seattle Sounders on the weekend. With tired legs, wasteful chances, and penalty drama, here are three takeaways from the match as FC Dallas sink wearisome Whitecaps.
Three Takeaways: Blip in the Season or Cause for Concern for Whitecaps?
Rotated Whitecaps Side Struggled to Gel
The Whitecaps lined up a bit of a rotated side for this road match against Dallas. Ryan Gauld was dropped from the attack in favor of Pedro Vite, while Sergio Cordova started his second successive match up front. Tristan Blackmon was also rested with Javain Brown coming in for him at right centre-back, meaning that Laborda slotted into the right-back position.
While it’s understandable to rotate your side when you have a long stretch of fixture congestion, it felt like this side was not particularly built for success, at least in the first half. The team struggled to track the runs of many Dallas players and lost most of the second balls. Dallas is a team that thrives in possession, and it felt like the Whitecaps allowed that to happen by dropping 10-15 yards deeper than they normally have done, especially in that unbeaten streak they had earlier this season. The goal came from one of the few times that the Whitecaps pressed up, with Brian White forcing an error out of Maarten Paes to allow Pedro Vite to open the scoring. But even after the goal, the Whitecaps went back to dropping back and inviting pressure from the Texan side.
The second half provided more opportunity to build and stay disciplined, with the substitutions playing a huge part in it, but it felt like it was too little too late after the second goal came from Jesus Ferreira in the 54-minute. Against top sides, especially in their home ground, you need to be switched on from the off and the Whitecaps paid for failing to do so.
Fulltime in Frisco.
Shifting our focus to Saturday's home match against Seattle Sounders 🎟 https://t.co/uSDC54LGTr pic.twitter.com/8Od7eOr7DF
— Vancouver Whitecaps FC (@WhitecapsFC) May 18, 2023
Penalty Shout Highlights VAR Issues
To Vancouver’s credit, they did wake up after conceding the second goal. In fact, it was less than ten minutes after that they got a fantastic opportunity, where Alessandro Schopf almost got on the end of a great pass, but was collided into by Paes. The referee then called for a goal kick much to the dismay of the players and coaching staff on the sidelines. On the replay, it looked like Paes got Schopf before the ball, with the Swiss just knocking the ball out of the way. But VAR decided against directing the referee to go to the monitor to review it, and play went on.
The Whitecaps began to create many chances after that, but it felt like that was the chance they needed to tie up the match. In the post-match presser, both head coach Vanni Sartini and Schopf adamantly believed that the correct decision was a penalty, and felt hard done by both the referee on the pitch and the officials in the VAR room. It is situations like these that make you wonder if the rules should be amended slightly so that referees have more time to determine whether to go to the monitor or not, to avoid situations like these.
Regardless, the Whitecaps then went on to lose the match and you cannot blame the loss on a single referee call. But decisions like these can be decisive in the long run for teams, and could very well be the difference between a loss and the point you needed to qualify for playoffs.
Looks like Paes misses the ball and brings down Schopf
Stonewall pen but unclear if VAR is reviewing it … https://t.co/6MFzmz87o6
— The Third Sub (@The3rdSub) May 18, 2023
Becher Shines While Cordova Concerns Continue
You can pinpoint the moment that Whitecaps came back into the match as when Simon Becher came on for Sergio Cordova. Cordova, to his credit, is just coming off a lengthy injury but still seemed like he was laboring around the pitch today as he was when he first got here. The difference is that he is apparently more fit and sharp than he was at the start. It took him coming off for the Whitecaps to get that injection of energy through Simon Becher. Becher was more dynamic in the attack and provided the team with a more dangerous offensive outlet.
What will be more cause for concern for Cordova is that Deiber Caicedo also had a fantastic match in his short cameo. The young Colombian winger came on with more of that familiar confidence that fans saw back in 2021, with a determination to get past his man and create chances from the width. Caicedo, on this form, can provide a different kind of attacking play style, one that can complement that of White and Simon Becher. With so many attacking talents both on the bench, in the lineup, and even in the second team in MLS Next Pro, Cordova will be hoping that he can find some form or prepare himself for a tough battle to keep that starting spot.
Deiber has been electric since he’s come on
He’s brought in that injection of pace and energy, and he is creating chances by beating his man
Good to see him gaining confidence after his return from injury #VWFC
— Felipe Vallejo (@FelipeV_FC) May 18, 2023
Photo Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports of a Brian White Headshot and a Nkosi Tafari Headshot on May 17, 2023.