The Vancouver Whitecaps suffered a disastrous result on Saturday night. LAFC. which joined Major League Soccer last season, shipped six goals past goalkeeper Maxime Crépeau to become the fastest MLS franchise in history to reach 100 points.
The Whitecaps, meanwhile, have been in the league since 2011 and have won just one playoff series. While coach Marc Dos Santos’ rebuild will take time, there is a sense among Whitecaps fans investment is needed now to keep the Caps competitive in the medium-term.
“Our principles of play escaped us,” Andy Rose said after the game.
Those principles are not to dissimilar from those that LAFC displays on a weekly basis.
LAFC prototype shakes the Whitecaps
The Whitecaps’ Dos Santos was Bob Bradley’s assistant coach last season. As a result, LAFC’s style of play was considered the blueprint for how Dos Santos eventually wants his side to play.
“A game that we were dominated,” Dos Santos said after the game. “All game LAFC was much stronger, more pressure and possession. They grapped us by the throat, that was the reality.”
LAFC plays high press attacking football that seeks to take the ball from the opponent in the attacking third. It features midfielders who can carry the ball with ease from the defensive third to the attacking third. All of that is topped off with exciting attacking players who can dissect any opponent.
Many of the Whitecaps who were signed this past winter pointed toward the same direction. But Saturday’s result highlighted the gulf between the Caps and LAFC. Although Vancouver has been in the league far longer, it looked more like the expansion team.
— J.J. Adams (@TheRealJJAdams) July 7, 2019
The Caps had just 508 touches in comparison to LAFC’s 870 and barely were able to get out of their third.
“I have to give credit to everything that LAFC did today,” Dos Santos said. “We weren’t able to get quality possession and get the ball in the right areas. It was a game that was very unsuccessful for us,” he added.
For the Whitecaps, the game on Saturday, in fact, was a brutal recognition that Dos Santos’ rebuild will not only need time, but in what is increasingly becoming a league of big spenders, also might need some big investments.
“This was a game were everything went wrong,” Dos Santos said.
“We are very sorry about this performance,” midfielder Jon Erice said.
Mark-Anthony Kaye the player that got away
LAFC has a magnificent lineup, but one key player is Canadian national team player Mark-Anthony Kaye. The 24-year-old Canadian scored a stunning goal to make it 3-1 for LAFC in the 46th minute.
It was not just his goal, however, that made him stand out. His ability to carry the ball and play passes into the final third make him the sort of midfieldee the Caps are missing at the moment.
Kaye has at times been linked with a move to Canada. But performances like the one on Saturday night will make it almost impossible for the Whitecaps to acquire him now. Nonetheless, a Kaye-like-player has to be on the shopping list this summer; one such player could be Afriye Acquah, who has been linked to the Whitecaps in the past.
Kaye makes more dribbles (2.98) in comparison to Acquah (2.29). But Acquah's completion rate (86.36%) is significantly better to Kaye's (52.54%). Kaye is more prolific when it comes to assists: 5 vs 0. Both have a passing accuracy of around 70% in the final third.
— Manuel Veth (@ManuelVeth) July 7, 2019
Acquah is a free agent and as recently outlined on Pro Soccer USA would be a perfect fit for what the Whitecaps need in midfield. Also on the list should be a natural goalscorer. Fredy Montero, who was sent off with a straight red card in the second half, has scored only two goals from open play this season. Meanwhile, LAFC topscorer Carlos Vela has scored 19 goals this season, just three less than the entire Whitecaps team put together.
No Adnan, no party
There was at least one piece of good news for Whitecaps fans this week. Loanee Ali Adnan was signed to a permanent contract on Friday.
Unfortunately, for the Whitecaps, however, Adnan’s new contract will not become active until Jul. 9 when the MLS secondary transfer window opens. With Adnan in the lineup, the Whitecaps managed to beat LAFC 1-0 at home on Apr. 17. Without Adnan, the Caps were lost.
The result highlights the importance of Adnan to this lineup. The Iraqi is a rare species in this Whitecaps lineup as he combines both defensive stability and attacking prowess. No team should be dependent on one player like the Whitecaps are at the moment, which further highlights the importance of this upcoming transfer window.