If ever a game could be filed away in the clichéd vaults of “A game of two halves” then the Vancouver Whitecaps 3-2 win over New York City FC at BC Place on Wednesday evening would be it.
The Whitecaps took the lead early when Fredy Montero pounced on an error by the visitors and from that moment on it felt as though the rest of the half was a concerted effort by everybody on the team to categorically disprove one of Carl Robinson’s favourite maxims: “The first goal is crucial”.
It’s certainly not crucial when the team scoring it then fail to show any kind of attacking intent and are content to sit passively back and allow their opponents to dictate the play.
The inevitable first goal came from a poorly defended corner kick and the second from the equally inevitable Baldermo Toledo controversial penalty decision.
Carl Robinson and his team probably had cause to complain about that particular decision but in their heart of hearts they must have known that the scoreline accurately reflected the balance of play.
Characteristically the Whitecaps coach had watched his team underperform in the first half and so chose to do absolutely nothing about that fact from a personnel point of view.
Uncharacteristically this actually seemed to work and his side came out with a genuine sense of purpose that was sorely lacking before the whistle.
Suddenly Vancouver were taking the game to New York, suddenly the likes of Bolaños, Techera and Montero were getting on the ball instead of acting as de facto defensive midfielders and (Perhaps most importantly of all) suddenly the BC Place crowd held a sense of belief that the hometown heroes could produce something of note every time they came forward.
And, lo and behold, a Bolaños cross was volleyed home by Jordan Harvey and the game was well and truly afoot.
And then the introduction of Yordy Reyna with thirty minutes remaining added an extra spark to the affair as the Peruvian displayed the kind of trickery and directness that has largely been an anathema to the Whitecaps for most of the year.
Yet when the striker blazed over from six yards out with just five minutes to go it seemed as though the chance for the three points had gone.
But the with a minute to go the tireless Jake Nerwinski won the ball on the halfway line, continued with his run and then delivered the perfect cross for Reyna to head powerfully home.
The game was won and people at a Whitecaps game were actually having a good time!
One game does not make a season of course and anybody who wants a cold hard reality check should probably just watch that first half again to see just how anaemic the Whitecaps were in all aspects of the game.
But if that second half can convince Carl Robinson that taking the initiative at home is a far more effective plan than relinquishing it then at least we can all go into the mid-season break with a sliver of belief that this team can grow into something better.
Time for the Soccer Shorts player ratings.
Ousted-6.5, Nerwinski-6.5, Harvey-6.5, Parker-6.5, Shea-6, Tchani-6, Jacobson-6, Techera-6-Bolaños-6.5, Montero-6.5* (Reyna-6.5)