Carl Robinson’s innate conservatism won’t destroy the Whitecaps season (they’re still likely to make the playoffs somewhere between fourth and sixth in the standings).
But it will always prevent this current group of players from flying anywhere higher than the ceiling of their collective abilities and it will always cause them to falter in the kind of game where something meaningful is on the line.
Case in point.
For the second consecutive Cascadia derby home game Robinson sent out his team to play in a manner that effectively killed the home team advantage by allowing the opposition to stroke the ball around for the first ten minutes just to make sure that they didn’t feel too uncomfortable.
Maybe that’s unfair?
Maybe he didn’t deliberately send his team out to play in such a supine manner? Maybe that’s just how they play once they listen to his instructions?
Either way it was border line embarrassing for Vancouver to be playing so fearfully in a contest where the home crowd is so desperate for the blood and thunder of a local derby.
What to say about the actual game?
The Whitecaps were horrendously bad in the first half and were lucky to go into the break only one goal down and then they were horrendously bad in the second half as well before referee Ricardo Salazar finally found a way to fire up the home team by sending off Tony Tchani for a second yellow card.
Then Alphonso Davies did well to set up Fredy Montero for his obligatory goal against the Sounders and from there on in it was the kind of backs to the wall defending that exists well within the comfort zone of both the players and the coaches.
Almost predictably they hung on for a point and Robinson will get to answer questions about the red card and the penalty and the referee and the fourth official.
And the fact that his team played without any kind of intensity or courage for the first sixty minutes of a Cascadia derby game will be conveniently forgotten.
The Whitecaps will now probably fly to Orlando and get a decent result and the march to the postseason will continue until they’re finally forced to play that one playoff game with everything resting on it and then the inevitable will happen.
Robinson will coach afraid, his team will play afraid and the season will be over.
Time for the Soccer Shorts player ratings.
Ousted-7*, Williams-4.5, Waston-6, Parker-6, Harvey-6, Tchani-5, Jacobson-5, Techera-5, Bolaños-5, Reyna-5.5, Montero-6.5 (Davies-6.5, Ibini-6, Teibert-6)