The Vancouver Whitecaps knew they were facing a dangerous opponent on Saturday evening at BC Place.
An opponent that was unpredictable, operating as a coherent unit and featuring the unconventional inclusion of Mariposa Monarch Butterfly Aerial Beings and Swallowwort Fossil Twins.
That’s right, the Whitecaps were fighting for patrons with “Nomadic Tempest’ the experimental opera currently performing on a tall ship docked in False Creek.
Fortunately I regard the words “experimental opera” in the same way Carl Robinson regards the words “early tactical substitution”; fine for other people, but not the sort of thing I care to indulge in.
So I was able to see the Whitecaps earn a valuable three points with a 2-1 win over the Houston Dynamo at BC Place.
The Whitecaps really did need to win this one if they were serious about a top four finish and win it they did thanks to goals from Fredy Montero and a screamer from Jordy Reyna.
But after spending most of the first half playing a decent amount of good football they came out flat in the second half and allowed Houston back into the game and from there on in it was more backs to the wall defending than the procession it promised to be.
Still, there were enough positives to make this more than just about the three points.
Reyna will probably turn out to be a player who can infuriate with his decision making at times, but he’s already shown he can be the difference maker the team has needed and Bolaños and Montero were both excellent in the first forty-five minutes.
Another good outing too for Tony Tchani.
He can occasionally take the overly safe option with his passing and he lacks composure whenever he does get near the six yard box, but when he’s playing simple passes to the more creative players he’s doing a job that hasn’t been done for the Whitecaps for quite some time.
And there was a time when conceding that early second half goal would have led to the team losing their heads completely.
That didn’t happen and though we can obsess about the importance of “locker room spirit” a little bit too much this iteration of the Whitecaps has shown on more than one occasion that it responds to adversity in a far more steadfast manner than last year’s version.
So it’s on now to another big game against Seattle at BC Place on Wednesday evening.
And although Robinson likes to reward players who earn a win with another outing he does face a few selection issues.
Jake Nerwinski got burned a little bit at right back so does Sheanon Williams make his first start back at BC Place since his enforced absence?
Techera and Bolaños were playing much narrower than usual to allow the full backs space to break forward and Reyna the licence to roam, but will that work against the Sounders?
And why are the Swallowwort Fossil Twins so intent on destroying the planet?
(Oops! That’s back to the opera again).
Anyway, the win against Houston offered foreshadowing of all the positives that could make the Whitecaps a decent playoff side and all the deficiencies that could ultimately undo them.
That’s what I call real art!
Time for the Soccer Shorts Player ratings.
Ousted-6.5, Nerwinski-5.5, Parker-6.5, Waston-6.5, Harvey-6.5, Jacobson-6, Tcahni-6.5, Techera-6, Bolaños-7, Reyna-7*, Montero-6.5