Okay here we go.
The Whitecaps 1-0 defeat to the New York Red Bulls on Saturday afternoon was the latest installment in Carl Robinson’s “How can I mess around with the lineup and formation in order to play an out of form and out of sorts Pedro Morales?”.
In this episode Morales was back to the number ten role he has struggled with whenever he has played there and this also meant a move away from the two up front system which has actually been somewhat successful in the last two games and a return to the dreaded 4-2-3-1 which has been somewhat less than successful for the whole of the season.
So in a game the Whitecaps had to win they began with two defensive midfielders, a number ten who isn’t very good in the number ten role and a lone striker (Erik Hurtado) who isn’t very good at finishing.
Can you guess how it went?
Well it turned out that all those other times when Pedro Morales had been ineffective as the forward most play maker weren’t aberrations at all and he was once again ineffective and was substituted with thirty minutes still remaining.
And it also turned out that all those other times when Erik Hurtado hadn’t been very good at finishing weren’t aberrations either as he put in one of the most astonishing forward displays you will ever see.
Hurtado missed glorious chance after glorious chance (and “glorious” really isn’t hyperbole in this instance) and what made those misses even more amazing is that not once did he force the goalkeeper to make a save.
By the time he missed his final opportunity in the dying seconds he had taken us through a range of emotions including, anger, hilarity, despair and empathy. In a strange way it was almost great art.
But we all know what Erik Hurtado is. He’s a limited striker who never stops running and never stops working who has proven himself useful as one of a pair up front, especially in recent weeks.
So playing him as the sole focal point of the attack is akin to setting him up to fail and after sixty minutes (probably earlier) it was clear that Saturday wasn’t going to be his day and while leaving him on the field probably felt supportive it was actually the worst decision that could have been made for the player and his confidence.
Speaking of bad decisions referee Sorin Stoica put in one of the worst officiating performances you will ever see as his whistle constantly cut through the air like a whistle cutting through air.
If no blow of the accursed instrument was needed he opted for one, if just one was required then Stoica went for two or three.
There was also his bizarre decision to have a lengthy chat with at least one player before every set piece which certainly didn’t help the flow of the game and exacerbated one of the worst examples of in game management you will ever see.
The highlight of his night though was presumably sending Carl Robinson to the stands for disputing a throw in call just before the interval.
As it turned out Robinson should probably send him a note of thanks as at least it offered the coach something else to talk about other than his team’s appalling form and if the incident persuades both him and the rest of the bench to spend as much time telling their own players what they are doing wrong as they do the game officials then maybe some good will come of it.
Needless top say the Red Bulls scored with their only real chance of the game and with ten minutes remaining the Whitecaps pulled out all the stops by putting on two attacking players (effectively for two other attacking players while still maintaining those two vitally important defensive midfielders but still).
Whenever the word “mathematically” is used in a sentence about a team’s season then that season is pretty much over and that’s where we are now with the Whitecaps.
And all before Labour Day too. Who would have thought?
Time for the Soccer Shorts player ratings.
Ousted-6, Smith-6, Harvey-6, Parker-6, Jacobson-5, Teibert-5, Laba-6, Morales-4, Techera-5-Aird-6*- Hurtado-.