The first priority of a football coach is to win games. The second priority is to entertain the home fans.
Take care of both and you’re a god. Take care of the first and nothing else matters. Take care of the second and you’ll be given some leeway before the axe finally falls.
Right now Carl Robinson is taking care of neither and for the second consecutive home MLS game the Whitecaps failed to score and failed to even threaten against an Eastern Conference opponent as they went down 2-0 to Toronto FC at BC Place.
The only thing that really worked out for Robinson on the day was the red card to Brek Shea (actually a second yellow for dissent) because that will no doubt move the narrative away from just how poor his team were.
Everybody knows how to play the Whitecaps at BC Place by now; sit back and let them come at you because they never really do come at you anyway.
Never has a team been able to turn an attacking corner into a back pass to their own goalkeeper with the alacrity of the Whitecaps and there can’t be many home teams who are so unwilling to use the home crowd to their advantage.
Quietening the supporters with dull football is a great idea if you’re on the road but not so great when you need those fans to be the twelfth man.
Vancouver did get better in the second half with the introduction of Christian Bolaños and, for a brief fifteen minute spell, it even seemed as though they were intent on scoring a goal.
That all fell apart once Shea got that red however and while we can argue all day about the rights and wrongs of the call it’s tough to criticize a player for doing the exact same thing his coach does for almost the entirety the game.
There was a moment in the first half when Robinson was making an unnecessarily petulant point about where a throw in should be taken and if I’m officiating that game I know which team I’m going to be happy to make a big decision against when the time comes.
Even MLS referees are human.
If Robinson spent as much time telling his players where they were going wrong as he does the match officials the results might actually improve.
Hopefully the coming two week break will prompt a little bit of introspection about how the team is being set up because (Soccer Shorts bingo cards at hand!) those two defensive midfielders are killing the team and Fredy Montero looked a figure of despair as he left the field because once again not one chance had been created for him from open play.
That’s partly because almost every other player on the team is being asked to prioritize their defensive duties over any notion of attack and that turned both Shea and Alphonso Davies into meaninglessly insignificant figures going forward.
It’s great that Davies does the defensive duties so well but the kid needs to be allowed to play and to enjoy his football, otherwise he’s going to be transformed from a phenomenon into a journeyman before our very eyes.
On the plus side the weather seems to have got much better!.
Time for Soccer Shorts player ratings!
Richey-6, Williams- 5, Parker-6.5*, Waston-6, Harvey-6, Laba-5.5, Teibert-5, Davies-5, Shea-4.5, Mezquida-5.5, Montero-5.5, Bolaños-6.5