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Three takeaways from Vancouver Whitecaps’ 1-1 draw against Philadelphia Union

Apr 27, 2019; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Vancouver Whitecaps defender Doneil Henry (2) celebrates his goal against Philadelphia Union goalkeeper Matt Freese (1) (not pictured) with midfielder Yordy Reyna (29) and midfielder Inbeom Hwang (4) and midfielder Russell Teibert (31) and defender Jake Nerwinski (28) and defender Victor "PC" Giro (94) during the first half at BC Place. (Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports)

VANCOUVER — Frustration was the key term used by head coach Marc Dos Santos and many players following Saturday’s 1-1 draw between the Vancouver Whitecaps and the Philadelphia Union.

This has been the best performance under Dos Santos. After taking a lead, the Whitecaps were a bit unfortunate the Philadelphia Union found a way back into the game. 

Possession and Passing

Last week, Dos Santos spoke about how he wanted pockets of good possession to translate into more attacks in the final third, and for the first time this season the Whitecaps accomplished that.

The Whitecaps had 51 percent possession and completed 416 of their 507 passes (82 percent). In comparison, the Philadelphia Union completed 369 passes for an 80 percent pass completion rate. 

“That’s something that we worked on a lot during the week and showed a lot of video on that ought to improve,” Dos Santos told Pro Soccer USA after the game. “And it translated to that the more we had the ball, the more we were able to have more numbers in the box more opportunities.”

Whitecaps’ ineffective

The Whitecaps had six shots inside the box and hit the woodwork once. The Caps also created several scoring chances outside the box, and Joaquín Ardaiz, in particular, came a step too late on a few occasions in the dying moments of the game.

Dos Santos wants his side to improve effectiveness in front of goal.

“When we’re in the last third more calmness, more quality and in some moments better decision making — I feel if we would have scored the second goal, it would have been over,” Dos Santos said. “The quality of the runs, the quality of the connection — a very good example is the chance that Ardaiz had. It’s just a bad connection with the ball. But we have numbers. We have the players there.” 

The Whitecaps hoped Fredy Montero and Ardaiz could become consistent scorers for the Whitecaps this season. Montero spent the full 90 minutes on the bench after scoring just one goal in his first eight games. Ardaiz, in the meantime, showed glimpses of his ability, but failure to connect with the ball in the dying moments of the game also highlighted a lack of chemistry with the rest of the team. 

Yordy Reyna the answer?

Perhaps in this department, the Whitecaps are somewhat punished for signing both Ardaiz and Montero late in preseason preparation. Both seem disjointed from the rest of the squad when on the pitch. 

Dos Santos started Yordy Reyna in the No. 9 role Saturday. Playing in the center of the park seemed to suit the attacking midfielder, and Dos Santos was full of praise for Reyna’s performance.

“He is an example for the other number nines. Look at when he doesn’t have the ball he is very loyal to the team,” Dos Santos said. He runs the steps. He presses, not only the centerback, but if their defensive midfielder as the ball, he turns and he comes in and presses. There is always movement, always trying to make important runs.”

Reyna also picked up a knock during the match. The club was careful about his injury assessment Saturday. It would be a major blow for the Caps should Reyna miss Friday’s game against Colorado.

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