Monday, March 28, 2016

Canada-Mexico player ratings

Canada's 3-0 loss to Mexico in this past Friday's World Cup qualifying match was more disappointing than it was surprising. Momentum did seem to be with Floro's men, with a string of acceptable, if never dominating, results, and a team being improved by players like Junior Hoilett and Scott Arfield joining the fold. I'll even admit to holding out hope; I laid down a small bet on 1-1 as the final score.

And yet, this result was always the most obvious one. Though Canada has played Mexico close over the past decade (the 3 goals they allowed in this match was the most against Mexico since 1997), El Tri are the class of CONCACAF and it showed on the pitch. In addition, Canada suffered from so many of its starters having just begun their seasons or pre-season preparation (Larin, de Guzman, Johnson, Straith, Jakovic, and de Jong among them), while the Mexicans all play in leagues that are in full swing.

The manner of the defeat was a bit more surprising, with an encouraging opening 20 minutes seeming to give the Canadians a confidence and a willingness to go forward that was ultimately the team's greatest undoing.

The entire team was part of the letdown, some more than others. Here are the ratings.

Milan Borjan - 7
He made a number of top class saves in the first half to keep it close. A second and third look at the Lozano goal shows that he had left far too much of the short side open, and he may want to have had that third goal back.

Marcel de Jong - 5.5
Was too often beaten for pace by Lozano and other Mexican wingers, but was not at fault for any of the biggest defensive letdowns.

Adam Straith - 5.5
Made some nice interceptions and even started a rush, but his lack of pace was punished on the second Mexican goal.

Dejan Jakovic - 4
Was frequently out of position, and sloppy on the ball. He was caught napping on the Chicharito goal, and seemed largely at fault for the third. If healthy, David Edgar needs to take his spot.

Doneil Henry - 5
Proved beyond a shadow of a doubt he is not a fullback, as all but one or two of his touches going forward were poor. Defended well in the second half.

Atiba Hutchinson - 7
It is hard not to grade on a curve with Atiba, as this match was not at the caliber of his typical performances. A miscue between him and Johnson led to the second goal, and he did not complete as high a percentage of his passes as he usually does. On the other hand, he was one of few players that could take on an opponent or two and keep possession. He might have benefited from one of the other midfielders also playing in a deeper lying role.

Will Johnson - 6
I'll give him credit for being involved in the rare occasions where the team got forward. A 1-2 combination with Arfield was one of the team's better chances. On the other hand he was often careless in possession and was beaten all day defensively.

Julian de Guzman - 5
He was deservedly celebrated pre-match for his Canada career and caps record, but this match showed he is no longer at the level required to be effective against an opponent like Mexico.

Junior Hoilett - 5.5
Watching the game I was hugely disappointed with the hash he made of two excellent chances to score, not even forcing a save. He deserves credit, though, for generating those chances.

Tosaint Ricketts - 4.5
I'm a big Ricketts defender, but this was not a good performance. The team directed most of their offense down the left side away from Ricketts, so I won't be critical there. But he was largely a ghost, including leaving a man unmarked on Mexico's first goal. Was justly subbed off at half.

Cyle Larin - 5
Like Hoilett, he squandered the best chance he was given. Against teams like Mexico, one needs to be more clinical. On the other hand, his hold up play was better than we have seen in the past. Lacks creativity when he does not receive the ball in a shooting position.

Scott Arfield - 6
He looked promising in the early-going of the second half, combining well with Johnson and others. His back injury, which kept him from flying to Mexico City, may have been an issue as he drifted out of the game in the last quarter hour.

Sam Piette - 5
He might have been a better choice than de Guzman as a starter, as he provides some defensive steel. He's not an effective player when the team is chasing the game. Benito may have been cutting his losses at that point.

Tesho Akindele - n/a
Too brief an appearance to leave much of an impression.

Benito - 4
For a manager who has had the team playing so defensively, even against weaker opponents, he either did not impress this enough upon his team, or they got carried away by the moment. Either way, he bears responsibility.

BC Place crowd
On TV, the split between Canadian and Mexican fans seemed to be at worse 70-30, and despite the result, they stayed in the game throughout. Full credit to the Voyageurs as always.

It seems silly to expect anything different for tomorrow's match at Azteca, but I'm hopeful (there's that word again) that Floro can iron out a few of the defensive issues, and that the team's posture on the whole will be a bit more conservative.  Mexico 2 - Canada 0


Anonymous said...

I like your analysis. With Ricketts, you get what it says on the tin offensively, but he really let down in his defensive responsibilities. Mexican LB Layun was way too prominent in this game: super cross on the goal, but really should have had to work for it.

Stick a fork in De Guzman: he's done. At this stage of his season and this point of his career, he doesn't have the athleticism needed for the role he's asked to play. I thought both he and Johnson were liabilities out there, providing little support for Hutchinson and not enough coverage for the back line.

I was really surprised at how slow Straith looked out. He reminded me (including his shirt number) of Richard Hastings during his time as our starting CB in 2007 and 2008. Looked like he was over his head on this evening. Jakovic was better with his play on the ball but his defensive shortcomings get exposed.

Overall, Henry had a rough series. He's not an RB but the flaws in his positional sense and judgement make him a liability as a CB as well, especially in this region. He's a feast or famine player (spectacular athletic defending one moment, colossal brain cramp play the next) who doesn't have the mental toughness to put errors behind him and get on with. Too prone to the yips. Yet, some people see "West Ham United" by his name and that should guarantee him a starting spot. I actually think Manjekar James will develop into the better player down the road on. Floro likes his 1 v 1 athletic ability against wingers and I can see that (man, I cringe when I hear people advocating for Ledgerwood as the starting RB: be careful what you wish for),

Larin's very young and I get that he's on his own up top in this tactical set up but man, he looked totally bereft of skill on that counterattacking break. Plays like that one and a few other ones make me think that his ceiling might be at best the same level of Eddie Johnson.

For the return game, our team actually benefitted much more defensively from the change in Osorio's attacking approach as opposed to our own performance. His choosing to play more long ball to Jimenez as a target man made it a little easier for our CBs to deal with as opposed to a steady diet of Chichareto's darting, off the shoulder runs and Lozano's blistering wing pace. Floro's decision to play Ledgerwood as a man marker for Layun helped closed down that wing threat but of course gives you almost nothing offensively. I wouldn't be surprised to see the same set up vs Honduras in September as we attempt to grind out a result.


jonathan said...

Yeah, as unlikely as scoring at Azteca was to begin with, starting Ledgerwood at that position really made scoring even less likely.

On the other hand, I nailed my prediction for the second leg.

Thanks for reading.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your thoughts.