I wrote not more than a week ago about how Vancouver was perhaps the only remaining team that it was impossible to get a read on. They have been incredibly unpredictable, opportunistic, and just generally enigmatic. But against Portland – in front of their home fans – Vancouver put in a master class of offensive dominance and dominance in general.
Let me throw some numbers at you. 26 shots. 13 on target. 57% possession, one of the most dominant possession displays in MLS this year.
Defensively, Vancouver surrendered just nine shots.
For a resurgent Portland team with all the fixings – Chara, Valeri, Nagbe, Adi – Vancouver, with all of their regular fixings, put on a show.
Something changed. Perhaps Carl Robinson finally found the winning combination. He moved Cristian Techera to the left side, gave Masato Kudo another shot, pushed Morales back and gave Bolanos the start as well, marking the first time this year that Bolanos and Techera have started together.
The result was magnificent, and go figure who the glue of the whole equation was – the big disappointment himself, Masato Kudo.
But first, let’s talk about the wide maestros. Techera and Bolanos combined to create nine chances and fired seven shots. They also only lost possession twice.
That wasn’t where the brilliance ended, however. In a rather bold display, Robinson pushed his star man Pedro Morales into one of the two holding midfield roles, vacating the No. 10 role he normally occupied for Nicolas Mezquida. If there were to be a weak performer on the day, it would be Mezquida, but that’s only if pressed into picking one.
Other than that, everyone performed masterfully. Morales showcased his overall ability, completing six tackles while still being the offensive force that we’ve come to expect. He created three chances and had a superb long ball accuracy, 8/11. In fact, Vancouver as a whole put up a superb long ball display, connecting on 27/40.
All of this went right. But they needed a final piece to tie it together. There are plenty of teams out there that have a factory of chances created. But having someone to put them away is the key ingredient and that is something Vancouver have been tragically missing this year, as Blas Perez, Octavio Rivero and Kudo have all combined to do a whole lot of very little.
That ended against Portland. Kudo looked incisive, creative, and deadly in front of goal. His first in MLS left no room for doubt and his assist was right up there with it.
Watch out, Western Conference. Vancouver is scary when they put it all together. And they came incredibly close to that against Portland.