There are only two things I know to be undeniably true.
The first is that any character in a historical drama on TV who starts coughing in Episode One will be dead of tuberculosis by Episode Three at the latest.
The second is that anybody looking at a new Major League Soccer schedule will utter the phrase “Well, that could have been better”.
But I’m a firm believer in the philosophy that if life gives you lemons then you take those lemons and throw them really hard at somebody else until they at least feel even worse than you do.
So with that in mind let’s throw five lemons at the schedule and see if we can’t bruise at least a few of those dates into submission.
The first two home games- Normally it would be ridiculous hyperbole to claim that a Champions League game against the Red Bulls and a League opener against the Union were crucial but the Whitecaps were so bad at BC Place last season that they almost can’t afford to maintain that negative momentum.
If they tumble out of the Champions League and also fail to pick up three points the rot could set in before the clocks have even sprang forward.
Four road games in a row- MLS loves to send teams on expanded road trips and Vancouver get their first taste of this in April when they face Portland, Montreal, Colorado and Houston.
By this time we’ll at least know more about how the team is being set up and although the playoff structure makes it tough to find yourself behind the eight ball this early in the season a bad run of results in these games could at least see them approaching the eight ball with a hint of trepidation.
Four home games in a row- It really is feast or famine with MLS isn’t it? That road trip is then followed by home games against Kansas, D.C United, Atlanta and Dallas.
One of the main flaws with the team in 2016 was that they always seemed to fail to capitalize on their successes, so if they do manage to get a decent amount of points from those road games they need to build on that at B.C. Place.
In short they need to play with far more intensity over ninety minutes than they ever managed to do last year.
August and September- It’s become traditional for the Whitecaps to view these months in the same way a wounded tuna fish views a hungry shark.
Why that is the case is one of the great mysteries of the modern world but it may just be as simple as other teams working out Vancouver and Vancouver being unable to adapt to that problem.
Thus far Carl Robinson hasn’t shown himself to be a master tactician within games so let’s hope he’s used the off season polish his coaching skills.
The final run in- Four of the last fives games are away from BC Place so we could be left looking at a team that is slightly worse off than it appears to be.
If the Whitecaps are hovering around the red playoff line come the end of September then they are more likely to sneak into the post-season than they are to steam into it (and even more likely to miss out altogether).
Again it will come down to how hard Robinson pushes his team before this spell of games and whether he and they refuse to settle for less than they could actually get as they seemed to do far too often in 2016.
So that’s just a few periods of the season that could/might/won’t be crucial to how we feel at the end of the campaign.
But at least we’re nearly at the start now!