Following a 6-1 defeat to LAFC, the Vancouver Whitecaps traveled to Calgary with the intention to make a statement in the Canadian Championship. But instead, it was Canadian Premier League side Cavalry FC that impressed against the MLS club, holding the Caps to a 0-0 draw at Spruce Meadows on Wednesday.
The Voyageurs Cup is not for kids
The Whitecaps were clear ahead of the match that they would not field a rotated side for this game.
In the past, the Whitecaps had at times used the Canadian Championship to rotate the side and field some of the kids. But with a title on a line, there was a sense that this year there was no room for the kids in the Whitecaps lineup.
“Rotating the side would be disrespectful to the competition,” Caps’ coach Marc Dos Santos said ahead of the game.
Hence, while Dos Santos did make some changes, those had to be understood as a reaction to the result against LAFC on Saturday.
Back in the squad was Ali Adnan, who received his international transfer certificate on Tuesday after signing a permanent deal with the Whitecaps. Meanwhile, both central midfielders Jon Erice and Hwang Inbeom were rested. In their stead, Felipe and Russell Teibert started.
Overall, it was an experienced side that suggested that the Caps were taking the CanPL side very serious. Despite fielding their strongest lineup the Whitecaps once again struggled to find scoring chances, however.
Cavalry FC hold their ground
Some of this was due to a very strong showing by the Canadian Premier League side. The Cavs, in fact, took this game to Vancouver and at times there was almost no gulf in quality between the two sides.
Cavalry FC went into the game with some confidence. The club beat Pacific FC on Saturday in convincing fashion, and there was a sense among coaches and players that they could hold their own against the MLS side.
Although the Whitecaps had the majority of the play and controlled 55 percent possession, the Caps once again struggled to find a way to deliver the ball to the attacking third. As a result, striker Fredy Montero had to drop deep into midfield, which rendered him very much ineffective against a patient Cavalry FC side.
“Second half, we put a mark on the game,” Cavalry FC striker Nico Pasquotti said to the TV station One Soccer after the game. “We had all the chances they were just on the counter-attack.”
Ladies and gentlemen. Maxime Crépeau! pic.twitter.com/GsWrTugsjv
— Manuel Veth (@ManuelVeth) July 11, 2019
It was an accurate assessment by the 23-year-old striker. Because in the 90th-minute Cavalry FC had the biggest chance of the game, but Whitecaps’ keeper Maxime Crépeau produced a stunning save to keep out Jose Escalante’s shot from a distance.
Missed calls played a role
It would have been a stunning conclusion to a fantastic game by Cavalry FC. But in fairness, the Calgarians were also a bit lucky. The Whitecaps put the ball in the back of the net in the first half, but Fredy Montero’s chest tap into the goal was waved off as Ali Adnan, who had played the cross, was ruled offside.
There is no Video Assistant Review (VAR) in the Canadian Championship, but had there been then a review would have revealed that Adnan had easily beaten the offside trap. The Whitecaps will certainly contemplate that particular scene because it provided a rare instance in which Dos Santos’ men managed to break into the final third successfully.
While the Caps might point at that particular situation as a game-defining moment, Cavalry FC also had reasons to be upset. In the 69th minute, Scott Sutter hit Pasquotti with a high leg inside the area but after a lengthy discussion between the referee and the linesman no penalty was given. Replays, however, showed that Sutter had fouled Pasquotti and there was a sense that with VAR in play, a penalty would have been awarded.
Hence, while the 0-0 draw is a less than ideal result for the Whitecaps ahead of the second leg — which will take place at BC Place on July 24 — things could have been much worse for Dos Santos and his men Wednesday night.