In the interests of clarity I should point out that I didn’t see the second half of the Whitecaps game against the Columbus Crew as it happened due to the unforeseen circumstance of going to watch the San Diego Padres play at Petco Park (a stadium by the way with surprisingly poor and sparse concession stands in the upper tiers).
Anyway the first half of the Whitecaps game was the usual road story; bad defending on a set piece, too many giveaways in midfield and the kind of bunker mentality that is more bunker than it is mentality.
Even a the ludicrous own goal that drew Vancouver level offered little hope of anything other than a temporary reprieve.
Safe to say I strolled to the ball game expecting the second half to feature the traditional lacklustre showing from the Whitecaps.
But lo and behold that isn’t what we got.
It turns out that the Whitecaps do know how to press in the opposition half and the introduction of Andrew Jacobson for the injured Russell Teibert meant that they also had a central midfielder who is at least willing to make forward runs and that willingness paid off in the seventy-fifth minute as he beat a man and fired home from the edge of the area.
When Erik Hurtado scored the third to seal the game we knew we weren’t in Kansas anymore (that’s Tuesday) and suddenly this game offered up all kinds of implications.
The implication for the season- the Whitecaps have put themselves in a situation where almost any defeat could end their playoff hopes but at least the season stays alive a little longer and makes next weekends trip to Seattle even more of a “six pointer”.
Whichever team loses that one is probably done.
The implications for the formation- it may turn out that Carl Robinson’s somewhat inexplicable decision to move away from 4-4-2 for last week’s game against the Red Bulls put his team too far behind the eight ball.
But it seems inconceivable that he now won’t run with that way of playing for the rest of the season.
The implications for Pedro Morales- the Captain didn’t feature at all in Columbus and the harsh truth is that not only was his presence not missed but it probably enhanced the team.
It’s hard to see how he gets back in the starting eleven without injury or suspension opening the way.
The implication for Erik Hurtado- I can’t think of any player who needed a goal more than Hurtado did after his showing against New York (apart from Octavio Rivero for almost every game this season).
That goal doesn’t mean that Hurtado is suddenly a starter but it does mean that at least he cemented his place as a useful member of the squad rather than as a lightning rod for criticism.
So can the Whitecaps go on the kind of run that will push them miraculously into the post-season?
Probably not, but at least it feels as though the players think they might be able to do it, and that’s an improvement of sorts.
Time for the Soccer Shorts player ratings-
Ousted-6, Smith-6, Waston-6, Edgar-6, Harvey-6, Laba-6, Teibert-6, Bolanos-6, Techera-6, Barnes-5, Kudo-5 (Jacobson-7*,)