Carl Robinson has clearly decided that the fate of the 2016 season will hinge on the form of Pedro Morales.
The captain has done nothing in recent weeks (or months) to justify a starting position but a starting position was once again handed to him for the crucial Cascadia derby against the Seattle Sounders.
Did the Whitecaps lose 1-0 specifically because Morales was in the starting eleven? No. But his presence lessened the possibility of such a win.
For whatever reason Morales has become incapable of providing any kind of attacking threat or even creativity and so he (once again) became an attacking and defensive void during the game at Century Link Field.
Andrew Jacobson isn’t the greatest player in the world but he does at least provide a little bit of everything when he’s on the field and, given that the Whitecaps looked most threatening on the counter attack, an additional player who could break up Seattle’s forward moves could have been invaluable.
Yet for all that Vancouver did create chances and, on anther day, may have come away with at least a point but a forward line led by Erik Hurtado is probably always going to need more than one or two gilt edged opportunities to seal the deal.
And the crux of the problem is right there.
A journeyman midfielder feels like a better option than the highest paid DP and a journeyman forward is keeping far higher paid attackers on the bench (Kudo and Barnes in particular).
The Whitecaps just aren’t getting value for their money in a league where every dollar spent needs to be spent wisely.
Whether that’s down to the individual players, coaching decisions or just poor recruitment is a debate for another day.
Yet it’s not inconceivable that the Whitecaps could win their four remaining games (they may even play better once the pressure is perceived to be off) but realistically those games are about reclaiming the Cascadia Cup and restoring a little bit of pride in the overall standings.
Some players are probably playing for their place at the club next season too but if they only decide to start playing for that place at the dog end of a season gone by then they won’t be worth keeping anyway.
So don’t put a fork in this team or this season just yet but you can definitely open the cutlery drawer and start selecting your implement of choice.
Time for the Soccer Shorts player ratings.
Osuted-6, Smith-5, Waston-6*, Edgar-6, Harvey-6, Laba-6, Morales-4, Techera-5, Bolaños-5, Mezquida-6, Hurtado-6 (Barnes-6)