Darkness before noon for the Whitecaps?

In one of his surprisingly numerous interviews Bob Dylan once referred to great songs as being “like the shadow of a church”.

Now what he meant by that was either “I’m just going to say something randomly enigmatic and hope I get away with it” or he meant that songs don’t create the concrete (in both the literal and metaphorical sense) emotions that an actual church, with all its history and implications, does but rather that the shadow of a church is both more ephemeral and less imposing.

More open to individual interpretation and changing moods.

The same can probably be said of preseason games and they are often barely even a shadow of a football match and they can certainly never be considered great art but the Whitecaps’ 1-1 tie with Minnesota United in Portland on Thursday evening could at least be described as the kind of biting satire the world so desperately needs right now.

Unfortunately, the satire was aimed firmly at the Whitecaps themselves as the game almost perfectly encapsulated all that was wrong with the team last year.

A very bright start failed to produce a goal and after about twenty-five minutes Vancouver suddenly seemed to run out of ideas.

That was mostly due to the lack of link play between the midfield and the forward line and a continued over-reliance on pace over guile.

They then began the second-half with the old familiar torpour of last year until Erik Hurtado produced a startling header.

It was largely startling because he was actually defending a corner and somehow managed, with literally no Minnesota player with six yards of him, to glance the ball perfectly passed a startled David Ousted (See, I told you it was startling).

At least that sparked the Whitecaps back to life and a Russell Teibert laser levelled the score to earn his team a share of the spoils that don’t really exist.

Despite all that negativity though there were still a number of reasons to be a little more positive about the prospects for 2017.

Yordy Reyna looked to be a bright prospect going forward and Matias Laba already looks way ahead of where he was this time last year (Which was actually still in Argentina now that I think about it).

There was also the absences of Nicolas Mezquida and Christian Bolaños to consider with the latter being the only current player capable of providing the guile to make all that pace effective.

We’ll know more as the preseason unfolds with each game becoming more significant than this one.

But nothing means nothing and the main something we can take away from a rain-sodden Portland is that things haven’t yet changed all that much from 2016.

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