Can it really be the start of the Major League Soccer season this coming weekend?
Yes it can, because that’s how we shape the unconnected moments of our existence to form the necessary illusion of linear time.
But what does the “year” hold in store for the Vancouver Whitecaps?
Let’s posit a few theories that are mostly based around the slightly bizarre compulsion for alliterative sub headings.
Form will Follow Function- It sometimes feels as though Carl Robinson’s journey as a coach is one leading him toward a kind of footballing Modernism.
A philosophy in which ornament and style are discarded in favour of the brutalism of functionality.
That’s no bad thing in and of itself despite how stark and grey the viewing fare may be (and that greyness is surely the inspiration for the new “Unity” jersey) and this season may be the one in which Robinson has the building blocks to create the utilitarian monolith of his dreams.
Flair players have been expunged in favour of height and pace which could make the Whitecaps both startlingly predictable and simultaneously difficult to stop.
The only danger in this prognosis is that somebody somewhere convinces the Front Office to splash the cash on a creative number ten, because giving the current coach a creative number ten would be like giving me a Photoionization Microscope.
People would be impressed that I had one but I wouldn’t have a clue how to use it properly.
World Cup Work Outs- The World Cup will hover over the start of the 2018 season like a rescue helicopter hovering over the profusely bleeding body of a hit and run victim.
Sure, it will be great when it gets there but the build up to the arrival will be fraught with a giddy mix of dark thoughts and irrational hopes.
For the Whitecaps there are perhaps two players whose fate will be inextricably linked with the great beast of a tournament slouching over the horizon.
Ali Ghazal is one who knows he has to impress if he is to force his way into the Egypt team and Yordy Reyna was on the fringes of the Peruvian squad before the off-season and nothing has happened since then to improve his standing.
Ghazal appears to be the kind of player who will know that a steady and effective start to the season will be his best chance to make the cut but Reyna is surely more of a wild card who could cut both ways.
He could either rise to the challenge and be the kind of wild mercurial presence we saw when he first arrived in Vancouver or he could try too hard to win every game single-handed and become a liability in a team that very definitely has no “I” in it.
The post World Cup period will be interesting too as Kendall Waston and whoever else gets a seat on a plane will have to deal with the inevitable cold turkey after the emotional high of Russia.
Defensive Dance- The Tim Parker “situation” has certainly thrown a spanner into the defensive machinery and (at the time of writing) we still don’t know how the “situation” will resolve itself.
It’s hard to know if the best case scenario is Parker agreeing a new deal and staying in Vancouver or the club getting an over generous offer that allows them to strengthen elsewhere, but the current reality is that the Whitecaps will be starting the campaign with the central defensive pairing still very much a work in progress.
Quite the “situation”.
Midfield Maelstrom- The news that Tony Tchani has been traded to the Chicago Fire for TAM may mean Carl Robinson wants an upgrade in that role but, when push comes to shove, it’s hard to look beyond Ghazal and Efrain Juarez as the go to guys when the chips are down.
But with Russell Teibert and David Norman Jr. as the only central midfield backups (with maybe Marcel de Jong being platooned in from time to time) the immediate need is more depth there than anything else.
Or maybe this is all a case of positioning for a big move during the Summer?
Whatever the case there’s no doubt all of this speculation will be scattered to oblivion in the coming days, hours and minutes but given that linear time is indeed an illusion (which probably explains my persistent inability to schedule any of these posts in even a vaguely competent manner) what does it matter anyway?