If there was ever a game to highlight the structural issues facing the Vancouver Whitecaps this season then the 2-2 tie with the Colorado rapids at BC Place on Saturday evening was probably the one.
The Whitecaps began the game well, got an early goal through a Kendall Waston header and then proceeded to play good possession football for the next ten minutes or so.
Gradually though the visitors eased their way back into the game and by the half hour mark were peppering David Ousted’s goal with shots and the first worrying aspect of the night was that nobody from the Whitecaps (either on or off the field) seemed capable (or even interested) in changing the flow of the game.
The team were crying out for either a tactical switch or just a leader to get in a few faces and clear a few heads but there was nothing and nobody forthcoming.
Carl Robinson was actually offered the chance to make a tactical change when Kekuta Manneh picked up an injury in the forty-third minute but instead he opted for as “like for like” a substitution as possible by bringing on Erik Hurtado.
Blas Perez had barely connected with Manneh all evening and was destined to have the same misfortune with Hurtado.
The second half began as the first ended with Colorado creating chances and Vancouver hoping that none of those chances actually amounted to anything but, inevitably, one finally did as Kevin Doyle slid home a nice through ball in the fifty-ninth minute.
Robinson opted to bring on Nicolas Mezquida shortly after that setback but it wasn’t until Colorado’s Eric Miller picked up a slightly harsh red card twenty minutes from time that the Whitecaps did finally wake up and take the game to the visitors.
The second most worrying aspect of the night is that it really shouldn’t take an opponent being sent off to jolt a home team into action and even then the Whitecaps needed another marginal refereeing call to give Cristian Techera the chance to slot home his first goal of the season from the penalty spot.
So three minutes of normal time left and the opposition down to ten men. No problem right?
Well the third worrying aspect of the night was that despite suffering that heartbreaking last minute goal against Toronto FC last week the Whitecaps still didn’t have enough wherewithal to see out the game and (somewhat astonishingly) were once again outmanned in their own penalty area in the final minute of stoppage time.
Those who don’t learn the from the mistakes of history are condemned to repeat them and teams that keep giving up late goals in that fashion need to get back to the very basics of the game pretty quickly.
It’s hard to know how they turn this season around from here.
Maybe a couple of signings will help the cause, but the overwhelming impression from this game was that either the players don’t really understand the system they are meant to be playing or they do understand the system but just aren’t buying into it.
Either way the mental lethargy from everyone concerned is getting pretty close to derailing the season completely.
Time then for the Soccer Shorts player ratings.
Ousted-6, Smith-5, Waston-6, Parker-6, Harvey-5, Laba-5, Jacobson-5, Morales-4, Bolaños-7*, Manneh-5, Perez-5 (Hurtado-5, Mezquida-6, Techera-6)