Only time will tell if the Whitecaps 0-0 tie with the LA Galaxy was a good road point gained or two valuable playoff points dropped but, for the first time in a long time, at least Vancouver looed like a coherent football team during an away fixture.
Carl Robinson stuck with the 4-4-2 that was so successful against Kansas in the week and the forward duo of Giles Barnes and Erik Hurtado provided a mixture of pace and strength to constantly keep the Galaxy backline on alert.
It’s tempting to wonder how much better the season wold have been if Robinson had switched to the setup earlier in the year but we are where we are and where we are is a team that still has an outside chance of making the playoffs.
Laba and Teibert mostly shut down LA in the centre of the field and Fraser Aird offered pace on the break in the absence of the suspended Christian Bolaños.
We still have to come back to the presence of Pedro Morales however.
The captain was once again asked to play in the wide left role and, once again, offered little of value in terms of attacking threat and the “suddenly back in goal scoring form” Cristian Techera would almost certainly have been a better option from the start.
At least the Whitecaps looked defensively sound again though (two clean sheets in a row!) with Kendall Waston looking much more like his own self from last season.
Before we get carried away it’s worth remembering that this is an LA team on a poor run of form and missing Robbie Keane up front and who also lost Steven Gerrard early in the first half.
But the Whitecaps have managed to lose to worse teams than that already this year so any sign of progress is welcome.
Next time out Vancouver face the New York Red Bulls at BC Place and will be without key players thanks to international call ups (Yes it makes no sense that they are playing that game during an international break but we are where we are and where we are is MLS).
That game against the Red Bulls is another one of those “must wins” that the Whitecaps have faced more with hope than expectation of late but at least the foundation of how the team should line up finally seems to be in place.
Maybe that’s a case of too little too late or maybe it’s simply a case of peaking at the perfect moment? (Spoiler alert! It’s the former, but at least we can still dream).
Time for the Soccer Shorts player ratings.
Ousted-6, Smith-6, Edgar-6, waston-7*, de Jong-6, Laba-6, Teibert-6, Morales-5, Aird-5-Hurtado-6, Barnes-6