VANCOUVER, Canada — On paper, it was an almost perfect match for head coach Marc Dos Santos. The Vancouver Whitecaps controlled the ball and had 56.6 percent possession throughout the 90 minutes.
However, it is not about how much you have the ball but what you do with it. In that department, Atlanta United was more effective than the Vancouver Whitecaps. While Vancouver did not manage a single shot inside the box, the Five Stripes had five shots from inside the box, and it was only thanks to goalkeeper Maxime Crépeau that the Caps managed to stay in the game.
Vancouver Whitecaps lack penetration
After Vancouver’s 1-0 victory over the Portland Timbers head coach Marc Dos Santos spoke in great lengths on how the Whitecaps need to slowly build their possession game from 45 to 65 to finally 90 minutes.
Against Atlanta, United Dos Santos got his wish as his Whitecaps had the majority of the possession throughout.
Atlanta United willingly allowed the Whitecaps to play the ball around in the defensive and middle third. But where it mattered, in the attacking third, the Caps had very little penetration.
“We spoke a lot about more movement and more runs,” Dos Santos said. “More penetration, something that wasn’t happening a lot in the first half. And then we asked the guys to be much more pragmatic in the final 30 minutes.”
Some of it came down to the opponent.
“You have to highlight how good a job Atlanta did collectively,” Dos Santos said.
Some of it, however, comes down to being smarter on the ball.
“Better participation, maybe sometimes the fullbacks need to add in the attack trying to unbalance the opponent,” Dos Santos said. “We are more dangerous at the moment in the transition play this was a very new situation, and Atlanta was the team that played the lowest [in defense] against us.”
Bringing in another key piece
The Whitecaps are looking for help to overcome the goalscoring problems — the Caps have scored just 11 goals in 12 games this season.
“Improving the quality, we have to do a job as a staff to improve the quality of the team,” Dos Santos said.
That will most definitely include a new signing in the summer.
“Yeah, maybe add one player that can get you that,” Dos Santos said.
The head coach, however, was quick to point out he did not trust the existing group to get the job done.
Said Dos Santos: “We think about this every day [adding another player] and that has nothing to do with the belief in this group.”
Maxime Crépeau shines once again
Vancouver’s strikers might be misfiring a bit, but one player free of any criticism is goalkeeper Maxime Crépeau.
The goalkeeper was fantastic and made four big stops in the second half to keep the Whitecaps in the game.
“That is why Max plays at the club,” Dos Santos said.
— Manuel Veth (@ManuelVeth) May 16, 2019
Crépeau was in many ways an under-the-radar signing for the Whitecaps this season. It was not even certain whether he would start going into this season. Now 12 games in, he has been perhaps the best player for the Whitecaps.
“Sometimes it is just about watching the ball,” Crépeau said. “I am just happy I kept the team in the game.”
It was not the first time he has kept the Whitecaps in a game.
The goalkeeper has conceded 14 goals in his 11 games this season. With the Gold Cup just around the corner, Crépeau’s performances make him a major candidate to start for Canada this summer.