In their third game of a busy stretch, Vancouver Whitecaps FC battled to an entertaining 2-2 draw with their Cascadia rivals and Supporters' Shield leaders Seattle Sounders FC last Saturday.
The ‘Caps showed signs of promise against one of the two remaining undefeated teams in MLS, not to mention they also did it in the perplexing atmosphere of Lumen Field.
From exciting play out wide to playing quickly across the pitch, there’s plenty to break down so let’s get straight into it.
Throughout the entire match, the play of the ‘Caps Colombian wingers Cristian Dájome and Deiber Caicedo was absolutely sublime.
The pair were able to create opportunities for their teammates and pitch in with efforts on goal from themselves thanks to the tactics of head coach Marc Dos Santos and his staff.
“What we felt is, if we are able to switch the play and find Dajo and Deiber in one v one situations. A big detail in the game was, if our fullback stayed a little bit low, and then Smith had to press our fullback, especially Janio’s side, it would create a 1v1 of Dajo with the left sided centre back," said Dos Santos.
By isolating one of Seattle’s three centre-backs in 1v1 situations, Dájome and Caicedo were able to create chaos in the final third, whether it was dribbling into the area or whipping dangerous balls into the middle.
In addition, the Colombian duo at times had the license to roam around the final third to create overloads and unexpected situations for the Sounders.
Take this chance in the 37th minute from midfielder Caio Alexandre.
HIGHLIGHTS: Seattle Sounders FC vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC | June 26, 2021
Instead of holding his spot out wide, Caicedo cuts into the middle of the park to receive a pass from midfielder Michael Baldisimo.
The 21-year-old immediately turns against a couple Seattle defenders and then passes out wide for the overlapping Russell Teibert, who whips in a beautiful ball onto the head of Alexandre with the effort going just wide of the target.
It’s also important to note Caicedo started on the left side of the front three on Saturday, a position he spent plenty of time playing with his former club Deportivo Cali.
Backtracking to Dos Santo's thoughts post-match, the switches from the ‘Caps throughout the game to isolate Dájome and Caicedo in 1v1 situations caught the Sounders completely off guard, eliminating their entire midfield from the play.
Lucas Cavallini’s goal is the perfect example of what the ‘Caps were working on in training prior to the match.
It starts with Caicedo and Teibert once again combining on the left side with the ball then going back to centre-back Andy Rose, who plays a perfect, cross-field switch into the feet of Dájome.
Watch the same clip above, starting at the 3:20 mark.
As easy as it seems, the ‘Caps’ leading goalscorer this season brings the ball down and plays a curved ball behind the Sounders backline right into the path of Cavallini, once again taking advantage of the 1v1 situation and causing problems for a Sounders backline who hadn’t conceded from open play prior to Saturday’s match.
Dájome finished the match with a goal (which we’ll look at later), an assist, one key pass, two shots and three dribbles, while Caicedo registered two key passes, one shot and four dribbles.
It’s safe to say the ‘Caps Colombian duo is finding their groove on the offensive and we’re sure they’re just getting started.
On multiple occasions throughout Saturday’s encounter, the ‘Caps had long stretches of possession and were able to move the ball around nicely to create goalscoring opportunities.
As seen above, the ‘Caps had good spells of possession before creating chances for Alexandre and Cavallini, but at times the Blue and White decided to opt for the quick ball instead of keeping possession.
Dájome's fourth goal of the season is the perfect example.
Instead of opting for a safe pass back to a teammate or playing a simple pass out wide, Alexandre decides to play a quick, over-the-top ball to Dájome, who isolates himself 1v1 with Seattle centre-back Abdoulaye Sissoko and finishes past the incoming Stefan Cleveland to give the ‘Caps the equalizer.
It’s a simple piece of play from Alexandre yet very effective.
Also, don’t underestimate the difficulty of attempting that pass and having the vision to lay it on a platter for Dájome.
By making plays like this one, it allows for the team’s wingers to get more involved and offer a threat in behind to stretch opposing backlines, so expect the ‘Caps to use this tactic a little more in the games to come.
Despite not scoring in the first half, the ‘Caps got off to a flying start at Lumen Field on Saturday, creating chance after chance and showing good spells of possession against one of the league’s best teams.
In the first half alone, the ‘Caps outplayed Seattle with seven shots, 50.5% possession, 255 total passes and eight dribbles, leading all categories at the break.
MDS addressed that post-match, adding the team worked on a couple things in training leading up to the match to make sure they got off to a decent start.
“There’s two things that we addressed in the last two days, it’s the why of coming out and lacking sometimes the little things to dictate the game, and we also spoke about making big plays in the end of games. Those are two things that we spent a lot of time on in the last two days. We had honest conversations and went through things. I just think the spirit of the guys to do the little things tactically together today was very good,” said Dos Santos.
The ‘Caps will now look to build off their strong performance when they take on fellow Western Conference side FC Dallas at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas. Kickoff is set for 5:30 p.m. PT this Sunday, July 4. You can catch the match live on TSN 1/4 and AM730, with the radio pre-game show starting at 4:30 p.m. PT.