Who are you and what have you done with the Vancouver Whitecaps?
The Whitecaps finally did what they’ve never really threatened to do all season and took an opposition team apart at BC Place as they cruised to a 5-0 victory over the San Jose Earthquakes in the post-season “play in” game on Wednesday evening.
In retrospect the game was only really a cruise for the final thirty minutes because up until that point it had been more of pedalo ride on a park lake; not in any way threatening but not really promising high jinx and parties either.
The first half was stereotypically tense for a playoff game but a Fredy Montero headed goal from a set-piece was enough to give Vancouver the lead at half-time.
The Earthquakes began the second-half with purpose but then a fantastic Cristian Techera free-kick effectively ended their resolve.
Throw in a Kendall Waston tap in (also from a set-piece) and two Nicolas Mezquida strikes and everybody following the home team headed out into the Vancouver night with a song in their heart and a spring in their step.
Perhaps the only real surprise in Carl Robinson’s starting eleven was the inclusion of Christian Bolaños who was particularly poor in Portland but clearly the coach felt the night was made for experience over tactical experimentation and though the Costa Rican didn’t completely cover himself in glory his ability (compulsion?) to slow the game down proved particularly useful once the lead was achieved.
Shout out too to Marcel de Jong who was a frequent outlet on the left side and even offered more than one dangerous foray forward as a nice counterweight to Jake Nerwinski on the right.
The only area of concern from such a great evening is that Yordy Reyna followed up his own poor performance against the Timbers with another game where he searched in vain to find his touch and though his set-piece delivery was still top-notch it seems likely the Whitecaps will need at least one moment of magic from Reyna if they are to progress beyond the Seattle Sounders in the next contest.
Can they do that?
Well the worst case scenario is that the club as a whole feel that the elusive playoff win is achievement enough and take their foot off the gas and eye off the ball for the next two games.
The best case scenario is that they use this win as a springboard to even better things.
And, for a few hours at least, we’re all allowed to believe that the best case scenario is entirely possible.
Time for the Soccer Shorts player ratings.
Marinovic-6, Nerwinski-6, de Jong-6.5, Waston-6.5, Parker-6, Ghazal-6, Tchani-5.5, Bolaños-6, Techera-6, Reyna-5.5, Montero-6, (Mezquida-6.5, Shea-6)