Rivero goal-a-game pace:
After another strong game from the Whitecaps’ newest designated player, Octavio Rivero sits on top of the MLS scoring charts, tied for first place with Blas Perez and Clint Dempsey. Yesterday afternoon, the Uruguayan striker scored his third goal in three games in a Whitecaps’ kit, en route to the 1-0 road win over Orlando City. Rivero was the best ‘Cap on the field at the Citrus Bowl,
earning himself the title of Man of the Match. Octavio had a number of great attempts on the day, almost opening the scoring from a great through ball from Morales that was stopped by Ricketts. Despite the great performance from Rivero, Robinson should be worried that all three of the goals the ‘Caps have scored this year have come from him. If Rivero fails to find the back of the net in any games, the Whitecaps will need to find secondary scoring from the squad.
Another Ousted clean sheet:
Anyone who watched the Whitecaps last season should not be surprised to see the Danish keeper earning two clean sheets in three games so far this season. Ousted, nicknamed the Great Dane by ‘Caps fans, earned a league-leading thirteen clean sheets last season in the thirty-four regular season games he played. With another two shutouts early in the 2015 MLS season, Ousted looks to be cementing himself as the greatest ‘Caps keeper in their MLS history, as well as one of the top goalkeepers in the league. A lot of credit can go to the Whitecaps’ backline for only allowing one shot on target, but Ousted’s control over his defenders is an important part of many games.
A big talking point before the game was whether or not the ‘Caps could shutdown the world-famous Brazilian. Kaka, Orlando City’s designated player, was the recipient of FIFA’s World Player of the Year award in 2007, and had quite a playing career with clubs ranging from Brazilian and Italian giants, São Paulo and Milan, respectively, to small Spanish club Real Madrid. Despite his prestige, the Whitecaps succeeded in stopping the Brazilian star, not even allowing him a single shot on target. Kaka did come close a couple times over the course of the game, with a dangerous free kick and a shot that was just wide, but the fact the ‘Caps denied the great Brazilian from scoring should be considered a significant accomplishment for the team.
Too many yellows:
For the second straight game, the ‘Caps picked up an abundance of yellow cards, with five players’ names in referee Jorge Gonzalez’s book. The squad also had four names taken for yellow cards last week against Chicago. With Koffie, Adekugbe, Rivero, Manneh, and Harvey all being booked yesterday against the Lions, Carl Robinson will need to be on high alert for yellow card accumulations occurring this year. It has been expected that players such as Waston and Kah will earn their fair share of bookings this year, but with Rivero and Koffie already having been shown yellow twice and a seven additional players entering the referee’s book so early into the season, Robinson will either need to tone down the physicality of his side or be prepared to use the full depth of the team.
With only fifteen minutes and stoppage time left in the deadlocked game, Canadian Sam Adekugbe chased after the ball in the Orlando City box, but was met by a challenge by former Timbers’ goalkeeper Donavan Ricketts. The challenge was fair from Ricketts, but the Jamaican keeper kicked Adekugbe hard in the chest. The young Canadian international was down on the pitch for several minutes, before needing to be stretchered off the pitch by medical staff. It was an incredibly disappointing injury not only for ‘Caps supporters, but national team fans as well, as Adekugbe had played well in the last match against Chicago, and earned a call-up to the Canadian national team. Despite the injury, some Orlando supporters showed class by applauding Adekugbe as he was taken off the field.
Travelling fans assaulted:
However, not everyone in attendance at the game showed the same class, as travelling Whitecaps supporters were assaulted by Orlando City fans. There were reportedly security issues at the Citrus Bowl, with home fans mixed in with the away fans, and a lack of security. Credit goes out to the Southsiders and travelling Whitecaps fans for handling the challenging situation maturely and safely.
Many Whitecaps supporters as well as soccer writers voiced their opinions on the assaults on Twitter:
— Francisco Rius (@franciscor) March 22, 2015
— Johnnie Monster (@JohnnieMonster) March 22, 2015
— Russ McKenzie Wood, CSM (@Russ_McKenzie) March 22, 2015
Starting XI and Substitutes:
After changing things up last weekend in Chicago, Carl Robinson decided to revert back to the familiar 4-2-3-1 formation for the game against Orlando City. On the back of his clean sheet against the Fire, it was no surprise that David Ousted received another start for the Whitecaps. There was a slight change in the backline this week, as veteran Pa-Modou Kah rested in Vancouver in anticipation for the Portland clash. As demonstrated last year with Jay DeMerit and Andy O’Brien, Robinson is willing to rest older players when the team heads out on long road trips. Loanee from Juventud, Diego Rodriguez, filled the hole vacated by Kah. Beitashour, Waston, and Adekugbe reprised their roles from the clean sheet in Chicago. Matias Laba started his third straight game of the season, while his Russell Teibert, his normal partner, spent the match of the bench. Gershon Koffie received his first start of the season as defensive midfielder, a position he will likely play again next week, with Teibert on national team duty. On the frontline for the ‘Caps, Nicolas Mezquida replaced injured Mauro Rosales on the right, while Manneh, Morales, and Rivero were holdovers from the 1-0 victory against Chicago.
Over the course of the second half, the Whitecaps used all three substitutes, while Orlando City interestingly only used one to bring on Canadian Cyle Larin. Robinson used his first two substitutions in the sixty-seventh minute to bring on Kianz Froese and Erik Hurtado for Mezquida and Manneh, respectively, looking to get some offence going for the ‘Caps. His final substitution was due to the injury to Adekugbe, forcing Harvey to replace him in the seventy-fifth minute.
Northern Starting XI Man of the Match: Octavio Rivero
For the first time, and certainly not the last, of this young MLS season, the Northern Starting XI Man of the Match is the same as the Whitecaps’ official Budweiser Man of the Match. After scoring his third goal in as many games for the ‘Caps, Octavio Rivero fully deserves the Man of the Match honours. The Uruguayan designated player had several attempts on net over the course of the game, before finally getting his head on a Pedro Morales freekick in sixth minute of added time, late in the second half. More details about Rivero’s game can be found above.