One of the more annoying aspects of Sir Alex Ferguson’s lengthy tenure at Manchester United was that his initial struggles in the role propagated a particularly tiresome theory.
Whenever another manager faced similar struggles somebody would come along with the familiar refrain “Yes, but Fergie also needed time before he became successful” as though the initial failure was a prerequisite to subsequent success.
It wasn’t and it isn’t.
One of the many annoying aspects of Portland Timbers winning the MLS Cup last season was that they achieved their success after struggling for most of the year.
Only the late surge of winning the last three games got them into the playoffs and propelled them to glory.
So now we find that whenever an MLS team is flirting with missing out on the post season we get to hear the refrain “Yes, but the Timbers were poor for most of last season before finally coming good at the right time” as though their initial struggles were a prerequisite for their subsequent success.
They weren’t and they aren’t.
It’s a comforting thought for fans of the Vancouver Whitecaps however because the 2-0 loss to Dallas on Sunday afternoon means the Whitecaps are looking less and less likely to finish in the top four and more and more likely to be scrapping for fifth or sixth.
There are provisos to be noted for this latest loss of course; searing heat, facing a very good team, facing a very good team who are even better when playing at home.
But there was a disturbing air of familiarity about they way the Vancouver succumbed.
They played a decent first half where they managed the game well (although maybe they were a little too careless in possession) and that gave way to a second half where they were never really in the game.
Maybe it’s just confirmation bias (or maybe it’s just confirmation) but the Whitecaps frequently seem to start the second period in a kind of mental and physical torpor and they paid for that again when Acosta and Urruti struck just before the hour mark.
The first goal was initially down to giving the ball away cheaply and finally down to David Ousted being beaten too easily on his left hand side (not the first time that has happened this season).
The second was down to Kendall Waston being beaten far too easily for pace following a fairly routine ball over the top.
After that it was about damage control as much as anything else and the game (somewhat understandably) drifted towards a languid conclusion.
In the final analysis a defeat in Dallas isn’t going to be the result that destroys a season, but it is another link in the chain that seems to be tightening around this team and we have to hope that the arrival of David Edgar and Giles Barnes can provide the elsuive spark that has been missing for so much of the campaign.
After all “Doing a Portland Timbers” isn’t a plan, it’s just a prayer aimed at the disinterested (and non-existent) footballing Gods.
Time for the Soccer Shorts player ratings.
Ousted-5, Seiler-5, Parker-6, Waston-5, de Jong-6, Laba-6*, Jacobson-5, Morales- 5, Bolaños-6, Pérez-5, Kudo-5