'Caps give up lead late, draw with Timbers
By Jonathan Szekeres
The Vancouver Whitecaps had a 2-1 lead late, the Portland Timbers were down a man, and everything seemed to be locked in for the club's second straight win over a tough opponent. Of course you know how the rest played out; the 'Caps gave up the lead late and couldn't come back, drawing with the Portland Timbers 2-2. For a decision, something the Whitecaps would have been elated for a couple weeks ago, this one certainly was disheartening. To give up the lead after playing their hearts out for 88 minutes, you know there had to be plenty of sad faces in the locker room. So, what exactly happened?
REF'S PLAYED THEIR PART
Look, no one likes a whiner, but the officiating in the match was incredibly inconsistent. The Timbers tying goal was the result of a pretty blatant handball, and both sides were going down at the drop of a hat. Though Camilo had a terrific night offensively, the young Brazilian went down every time a boot even came near his ankle. It actually lead to the Whitecaps first goal off a free kick, but I like the game Camilo showed on the second goal. After being bodied by Timbers defenders, Camilo kept chugging, then delivered a nice pass to Gershon Koffie who curled home the second goal. That is actual football, and if the officials kept the whistles out of their mouths, we'd get to see more of it. I have a bigger problem with the missed handball because it lead to the tying goal of the match, but mistakes like that can't happen at this level of competition. I've been pretty happy with the officiating so far this season, but the Timbers match definitely made me pull a few hairs out of my head. Sub-par at best.
DIFFERENT TEAM AT HOME
Why is it the Whitecaps are so different at home than on the road? Obviously, there are certain advantages to home turf, like no travel, family and friends, and the comfort of 20,000 people cheering you on, but this squad is like Jekyl and Hyde. They look absolutely abysmal on the road, like a club that hasn't even learned to walk yet. However, at home the boys are beasts, and look like they can play with any team. It's frustrating to say the least, because when they're at home, you can see the limitless potential they have. You see the mix of veterans and youth, and you wonder why they can't keep that going 100% of the time. Camilo looked like an elite player last night, but can we count on him to bring it next week as well? How about Gershon Koffie? You get my point. When this team is good, they're as good as anyone in MLS. When they're bad...well, we've seen plenty of that this season.
RENNIE LIKES ROOKIES
I know I've been picking on Head Coach Martin Rennie a lot lately, but I promise this will be the last time. (We all know it probably won't be) I agree with his decision to sit Darren Mattocks this weekend, as Mattocks has looked spotty at best when out on the pitch. So whom did Rennie choose to fill his place? Rookie Erik Hurtado, who's shown his first touch has all of the grace and softness of a sherman tank. Hurtado is quick, and he's got a nose for the net, but he is still very green. At best he's a late minute substitute, but somehow he keeps finding himself in the starting 11. Corey Hertzog has shown more and can't get off the bench, while the same could be said for Kekuta Manneh or Tom Heinemann. I bring up those three, because all have looked impressive in their limited minutes on the pitch, while Hurtado has looked like a rookie playing in a veterans league. I have no doubt 'Hurts' will become a strong piece of the Whitecaps core down the road, but when you're making a push for the playoffs, you need steak with a little more seasoning. Hopefully we see Hurtado in sub duty from here on out.