It was a game for the record books as the Whitecaps recorded their first goal and win in Chicago yesterday afternoon, with Octavio Rivero scoring to put the ‘Caps on top 1-0. The Whitecaps were the superior team on the day, outshooting the Fire by a margin of 18-13, but poor finishing kept the game from being far more comfortable for Carl Robinson’s men.
The Whitecaps newest Designated Player, Octavio Rivero, had a difficult game struggling to put the ball behind Busch until late in the second half. But at least the Uruguayan found the back of the net, with Manneh and Morales missing numerous attempts. Whether it was the ‘spongy’ field at Toyota Park or the players still shaking off some of those early season cobwebs, the scoreline could have been a lot more promising for the boys in navy blue. But with Octavio’s early goal-a-game pace, he could become a star for the ‘Caps, especially as he is only twenty-three and far from his prime.
Despite the great assist on Rivero’s game winning goal, Iranian international Steven Beitashour had a poor game, making terrible mistakes and almost allowing a Fire goal on more than one occasion. Beitashour took numerous unnecessary fouls over the course of the game, and after that performance Robinson should be looking to young Ethen Sampson for the right fullback position against Orlando.
Although the scoreline may indicate a boring game, the scrappiness kept it quite exciting. Six players found their way into the referee’s book over the course of the game including Waston, Morales, Mezquida, and Rivero. Two of the four yellows shown to the ‘Caps players were for ‘dissent,’ vaguely defined in the rule book as “[showing] dissent by word or action.” If the Whitecaps are to pick up cards in the future as freely as yesterday, Robinson will need to watch out for accumulation suspensions.
Starting XI and Substitutes:
Carl Robinson decided to change things up slightly for the ‘Caps, as he fielded a rare 4-4-1-1 lineup to fight the Fire and it looks like it worked. There was no surprise in goal, as ‘the Great Dane’ David Ousted started his fiftieth straight MLS game for the Whitecaps en route to passing Joe Cannon’s 56 MLS starts. The back four was a slight change from Robinson, with Sam Adekugbe replacing Jordan Harvey in the left-back position. It was a great risk by Robinson, but one with a great reward as Adekugbe went on to be named the Northern Starting XI Man of the Match. Waston, Kah, and Beitashour reprised their performances against TFC, with better results from the centrebacks. While retaining their spots in the Starting XI from last Saturday, Teibert and Laba were joined by Rosales and Manneh on their right and left wings respectively. Captain Pedro Morales maintained his position as centre attacking midfielder, but was on his own this week, with only goal-scorer and striker Octavio Rivero in front of him. Robinson made three substitutions in the game, the first being out of necessity. Nicolas Mezquida was brought on for Rosales late in added time in the first half when Rosales sprained his ankle due to an unnecessarily rough foul from the Fire. The final two substitutions came late in the game for the ‘Caps with Darren Mattocks coming on for Kekuta Manneh in the eighty-second minute, and Gershon Koffie replacing Morales in the eighty-eighth to shore things up defensively.
NSXI Man of the Match: Sam Adekugbe
Harvey who? The twenty-year-old Canadian, who rose through the Whitecaps Residency ranks, was the speediest and hardest working player on the pitch. Replacing veteran Jordan Harvey, the young homegrown player should have earned the left-back spot against Orlando City next week. The only change to the ‘Caps lineup from the loss to TFC last week, Adekugbe made a huge difference to the team not only defensively, but utilizing his speed offensively. Most fullbacks across the league could only dream to possess his speed. At the young age of twenty, Adekugbe looks to be a force for the Whitecaps and the Canadian Men’s National Team for years to come.