ANALYSIS – The Vancouver Whitecaps recorded their first win of the 2023 MLS season and did so in style. They swept away a poor CF Montreal side by five goals to nil, with starring roles by the young bucks of Simon Becher and Ali Ahmed.
Three Takeaways: Whitecaps Whitewash Montreal 5-0
#1: Young Canadians The Difference
With injuries to Ryan Gauld and Alessandro Schopf in the last match against Minnesota, the Whitecaps lineup was shaken up for this match. Ali Ahmed, usually a left-back, started the match as a center-midfielder. Meanwhile, Simon Becher led the line, having Brian White and Pedro Vite behind him. While many were anticipating their inclusion, no one could have guessed the length of their impact.
Ali finished the game with a goal, and an assist, while Becher finished with two goals and an assist. That means that both former WFC2 players were involved in four of the five goals tonight. For a team that was struggling to finish their chances, it was the perfect opportunity for these two young and hungry players to make their mark and lead the team to victory through their decisive actions.
It seems that youth may be the way forward for Head Coach Vanni Sartini, as he looks to build on this win and climb the table early on in the season.
The dream team
— AFTN (@aftncanada) April 2, 2023
#2: Whitecaps Defence Sealed Tight
While five goals put most of the accolades on the forward line, the Whitecaps’ defence can hold their head up high as they got their first clean sheet of the MLS season. Ranko Veselinovic and Tristan Blackmon were excellent at the back, ensuring that any loose balls were dealt with and any crosses were contested. It seems that they finally have adjusted to Sartini’s pure zonal marking after various mistakes in previous games.
Javain Brown and Luis Martins also had tidy matches, with the former closing down extremely well and pushing any danger wide, while the latter linked up well with Ahmed on the left. The cohesion of the back-line ensured that no shots taken were on target, with only only one shot going over the bar. Whitecaps fans will hope that this trend continues and that the days of zonal marking nightmares are firmly behind them.
We shouldn’t forget the #VWFC backline. Blackmon has been on point with his clearances and tackles so far. Two big clearances around the 10-minute mark kept the ‘Caps in the game.
— Nathan Durec (@ndurec) April 2, 2023
#3: Momentum for Wednesday
This whitewashing of Montreal was heavily aided by the early injury to Montreal captain Samuel Piette, who had to come off inside five minutes, as well as the red card to Rudy Camacho in the 23-minute. Playing against ten men allowed them to play with more freedom, more purpose, and less danger if they lost possession. However, Vanni Sartini was adamant after the match that “even if [Montreal] had 12 men on the pitch, we would have won tonight”.
With a midweek game in the Concacaf Champions League against reigning MLS Cup Champions LAFC, many are hoping to see this momentum carry them to victory there as well. Brian White has finally scored in MLS to firmly lay off pressure for him, meaning that the attack will be as hungry as ever for Wednesday’s game.
The biggest difference, of course, is that the Whitecaps will be facing an LAFC who will (likely) be playing with 11 men, filled with star players. The ‘Caps will have to make sure that they move swiftly on from this match and start fresh for Wednesday’s match if they have any chance to advance to the semi-finals. But for now, they can celebrate this empathic victory in style.
— Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League (@TheChampions) April 1, 2023
Photo Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports, of April 1, 2023, of Simon Becher’s Headshot.
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