There aren’t really any “must win” games at this stage of the Major League Soccer season but the Vancouver Whitecaps home game to Sporting Kansas City at least felt like an “it would be really, really, nice to win” game.
Following up a positive four game road trip with a flat and futile performance at BC Place wold have felt like a step back in a season that had lurched toward the positive in recent weeks.
The end result was a comfortable 2-0 win for the Whitecaps but for the first thirty minutes “flat and futile” felt like a pretty good description of the game.
Coach Carl Robinson announced an unchanged team for the fifth consecutive game and he can’t really have been surprised to discover that a lineup which was very effective on the road proceeded to produce yet another effective road performance with few chances given or taken.
That really isn’t good enough for a home game though but, just when it appeared that the Whitecaps had lapsed into relying on hopeful/hopeless long balls from Kendall Waston to fashion any kind of chance the big central defender produced a decent pass to Sheanon Williams who hit a great cross to Christian Bolaños who chested it down to Cristian Techera who volleyed home first time.
It was a goal of genuine class in a half that was largely bereft of that particular commodity.
Thankfully the second half was far better and whether that was down to Kansas being forced to push forward and leave space at the back or whether it was down to Vancouver being more adventurous is open to debate but chance after chance was spurned (Including another Montero penalty miss) before Tim Parker headed home a Bolaños free-kick to all but seal the deal.
The question now for Robinson is how he sets the team up for the game against DC United next saturday.
Tony Tchani is still struggling to find a role in the side and the balance looked far better once he was removed and Alphonso Davies pushed wide and Bolaños moved inside.
Let’s call that a 4-1-1-3-1 for now with Jacobson being the second ‘1’ and playing the role of the Schrödinger midfielder; vacillating as he did between attack and defence.
That certainly feels more like the way forward than what we saw at the start of the game and it would also offer up an easy way to get both Brek Shea and the in form Techera into the starting eleven.
Will Carl Robinson continue in his great adventure toward tactical flexibility? This game should have convinced him that he needs to do just that but, for now, we can all enjoy three valuable points and a long and sunny holiday weekend.
Time for the Soccer Shorts player ratings.
Ousted-6, Williams-7, Parker-6.5, Waston-6, Harvey-6.5, Laba-6.5, Jacobson-6, Tchani-5.5, Techera-6.5, Bolaños -7*, Montero-5.5