Portland v Vancouver: What did we learn?

So I was listening to the new WhaleBone Shampoo album the other evening (“Restructuring the Forest” only available on vinyl through the “Perplexed” record label) and while the majority of the tracks are minor updates on the mashup of Trap music and Eastern European influenced Psychobilly that made their debut album “A Carwash for Dr. Ernst Janning” such essential listening it was the title track that I found so compelling.

This was clearly the band stepping away from their comfort zone and featured a kind of Kraftwerkesque electronica backing while individual members took turns in reading out random abstracts from past editions of National Geographic magazine.

Does it work?

Probably not, but it is at least an attempt to create something of an escape clause for the band; something that extends beyond the already slightly tired boundaries of their debut offering.

And as I was listening to that song it made me cast my mind back to the Whitecaps 2-1 defeat in Portland last weekend and then when I further heard Jordan Harvey being interviewed in a post-scrimmage scrum and listened to him opine that the team had vowed to break away from the defensive structure of previous years when it came to road games it made me re-evaluate what had gone before.

So let’s review.

A defeat in San Jose which only came about when David Ousted was red carded after Vancouver had sped into a 2-0 lead.

A mess of a game and a performance in Salt Lake in which an untried three at the back system was utilized with disastrous results.

And finally the recent Portland game where 4-1-4-1 was the order of the day with Andrew Jacobson playing as the most forward thinking central midfielder.

Now, we may not like much of what we’ve seen in those games (and we certainly haven’t liked the results) but there are clear indications that Carl Robinson is desperately trying to break away from the fetters of that old 4-2-3-1 routine that pretty much every other coach in the league figured out how to play against as early as September of 2015.

Much like listening to members of WhaleBone Shampoo earnestly reciting disconnected phrases about the lost tribe of Sapanahua and the latest breakthrough in mosquito repellent we have to acknowledge that, even if we don’t necessarily rejoice in the final cut that made it through the editing process, we should at least rejoice in the willingness of those involved to stretch their boundaries.

So it’s probably time to cut the coach some slack and hope that he continues with this experimental phase of his coaching career and to really, really hope that it produces something more tangible than interesting tactical variations in the very near future because the alternative is too awful to consider.

A return to the kind of road games where the Whitecaps sit back and sit back in the hope that nothing at all ever happens.

And it never, ever did.


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