When the Spanish fleet first landed in Mexico in March 1520 the country was home to 22 million people but, by December of that same year, only 14 million were still alive.
That tragedy is down to the introduction of smallpox but it does at least mean that the Vancouver Whitecaps 2-1 defeat in Portland on Saturday afternoon wasn’t the worst away trip of all time.
Actually the Whitecaps weren’t that bad at all, but a lede’s a lede right?
Unfortunately though the lead at half time was with the Timbers thanks to a combination of great finishing from the home team and sloppiness in possession from the visitors and while Vancouver emerged in the second half as a more potent threat their potency had all but fizzled out by the end.
From a tactical point of view Carl Robinson went with a 4-1-4-1 that almost worked.
There were moments when Tony Tchani and Andrew Jacobson (Jacobson in particular) got forward to support Fredy Montero and a slightly better finish or a slightly luckier deflection may well have reduced the deficit.
But one of the defining features of this Whitecaps team is that they never seem to perform for the full ninety minutes and against a side as well put together as Portland are that was always going to be a problem.
So what do we make of the 4-1-4-1 formation?
One one hand it’s kind of nice to see Robinson taking himself out of the comfort zone of 4-2-3-1 but on the other this felt more like the dress rehearsal for the system rather than the finished product (And we can say the same for the three at the back experiment in Salt Lake).
Iron out the kinks and it could be a useful weapon in the team’s armoury but the those kinks need to be truly ironed out before the team take the field.
Robinson was also far too slow in making a change once the fillip of the Montero goal had dissipated and why he chose to remove the effective Jacobson instead of the lacklustre Tchani is something of a mystery.
By the final minutes Vancouver were back in their comfort zone of relying on the hoofed long ball from Kendall Waston which spelled the death knell for any chance of creating an equalizer and once a couple of set piece chances had also been wasted it was all over.
A decent effort that ended in defeat.
It shows how low the expectations have become that, at the end of the game, I was reasonably content with how it all played out and it probably shows how low the expectations the players are having set for them that the coach seemed to feel the same way.
“I thought we played well and deserved something more” is the epitaph for many a failed season over the years and unless the Whitecaps can figure out a way to either genuinely “play well” or actually “get something more” then the upcoming three road games will be a tough row to hoe.
Time for the Soccer Shorts Player Ratings-
Ousted-6, Williams-6, Harvey-6, Parker-6, Waston-6, Laba-6, Tchani-5, Jacobson-6.5, Bolaños-6, Techera-5.5, Montero-6.5*