After a poor performance against the Timbers, the Whitecaps needed to make a drastic improvement to defeat the defending MLS champions. After racking up only 33.6% of the possession in the Portland match, Carl Robinson knew he had a remedy. To gain possession in the middle of the field he started Russell Teibert beside Matias Laba in the holding midfield. When the final whistle blew on Saturday evening the stats sheet read 52% possession for Vancouver and much of this significant improvement was due to Russell Teibert who was deservedly crowned Northern Starting XI Man of the Match. Russell was a relentless bee as he harassed Robbie Keane and Gyasi Zardes, neither of whom found the back of the net. Sticking a toe in, anticipating passes, and distributing the ball from side to side, Russell dominated the middle of the field for Vancouver. His distribution was key for generating attacks and directly lead to the Manneh goal.
Northern Starting XI Man of the Match
Russell Teibert A+
The battle between Gershon Koffie and Teibert was something many saw coming during preseason and if Teibert continues to play like he did versus the Galaxy then he will remain in the starting xi. Koffie relies too heavily on his physical game which leads him to forget about his possession and distribution. Teibert is lighter on his feet and acts like a mythical warrior elf as he dances between opposition breaking up plays one toe poke at a time.
David Ousted A
Ousted had a quiet night as his defence prevented Keane and Zardes from registering a single shot on target. Things picked up slightly when Edson Buddle came on for LA but Ousted made easy saves while commanding the 18yrd box in his usual style. He also earned his 3rd clean sheet in 5 games. Impressive to say the least.
Steven Beitashour C+
Ever so slight improvement for Steven when compared to his pervious performances of 2015. However, he still gets caught out of position far too often and fails to track runs.
Kendall Waston A
Waston was on his game versus the Galaxy. His hulking frame proved to be too much for Zardes. He won key headers and passed the ball from the backline with precision.
Pa-Modou Kah B+
It is easy to be critical of his style since he is a magnet for card happy refs and sure enough Toledo gave him a yellow. In the second half he made one big booboo when he had a moment of madness and thought he was related to Messi. Kah went for little dribble up the pitch and was dispossessed.
Sam Adekugbe A
Another strong performance by the young Canadian. He really has made the LB position his own. Harvey will be getting minutes when Sam receives his invites to join the men`s national team in the summer but other than that Jordan will be warming the bench for much of this season. It really is surprising when you realize he has only played 629 MLS minutes.
Matias Laba A
Laba is very similar to David Ousted. Week in week out they go about their business efficiently and with grim determination. Laba joined Teibert in breaking up LA attacks and being a constant thorn in the side for Keane and Zardes who are arguably two of the league’s best forwards. With Laba getting rumoured interested from Fortuna Dusseldorf, it will interesting to see how long the Whitecaps are able to keep Laba.
Pedro Morales B+
Morales is beginning to become his old self. He nearly and probably should have, scored in the 11th minute when he spun Juninho and hit a hard low shoot right at Jaime Penedo. As a kid, coaches scream at you to shoot anywhere but at the goalie and so it was frustrating to see his few looks at goal go straight at Penedo but at least he is getting those chances.
Nico Mezquida A-
Mezquida knew he needed to put in a strong performance against the Galaxy. Especially due to the imminent return of Mauro Rosales. Just saying that sends a shiver up my spine at the thought of all these attacking options that Robinson has on his roster. Moreover, with the signing of Cristian Techera expected to happened any moment, Nico and his fellow midfielders will be under increased pressure. He played well against the Galaxy but was it enough for him to stay in the starting xi? We shall see.
Kekuta Manneh A
Manneh is frustrating to watch. So much talent but he often runs into a wall of defenders or holds his shot too long. He was at fault for both of these types of errors yet again on Saturday. When he finally took his first shot of the game a great cheer went around the stadium. Of course, he did score the winning goal but it is frustrating to watch him fail to learn from his mistakes.
Ocatvio Rivero A
Rivero scored his 4th goal in 5 games against the Galaxy. After being crowned Player of the Month for March , Rivero picked up where he left off and looked deadly on Saturday evening. He still lacks chemistry with Morales but that is due the preseason when Mezquida played in the creative role. I saw this becoming a problem back in February and unfortunately my prediction has been largely correct. Luckily the remedy is playing time. He and Morales are slowly getting on the same page.
Darren Mattocks B
His speed was just what the LA defence did not want to deal with that late in the game and he nearly punished them as he forced Penedo to make a few key saves. He will be remaining a MLS sub for the foreseeable future though. He will be getting ACC and CCL minutes but other than that he is a depth player.
Erik Hurtado B-
I will be honest. I was hoping to see Robert Earnshaw come into the game. Instead we got Hurtado. Erik has speed and…well…speed. He did a great job of closing down Gonzalez and creating his own semi-breakaway which he should have passed to a streaking Flores.
Deybi Flores B+
After Flores wowed the crowd during the Portland match we were all hoping to see him play against the Galaxy and Robinson gave the crowd what they wanted. His penetrating runs are breathtaking and it is only a matter of time before he scores. In fact, if Hurtado had played him in, instead of going for glory, then Flores would probably have added a third for Vancouver.