There was a fifteen minute period at the start of the second half when the Vancouver Whitecaps game against the Montreal Impact felt disturbingly familiar.
Vancouver had dominated the first half without ever really creating a clear cut chance and the second half began with the Impact on the front foot while the home team played with a kind of listless torpor.
Then, seemingly out of nowhere, Alphonso Davies whipped in a cross from the left and Kei Kamara produced a bullet of a header to change the tone completely.
Seven minutes later Davies slotted home his first ever MLS goal and only the sense that the whole team seemed to feel the job was done allowed Montreal to get a goal back and give fans of the Whitecaps a far more nervous than necessary final ten minutes.
They hung on to that lead however and concluded a mostly satisfactory day at the office.
So what were the main lessons learned?
Well, Kamara certainly doesn’t have the technical skill of Fredy Montero (there were times when his efforts resembled a unicorn trying to control a particularly feisty hedgehog) but that probably won’t matter if he can get on the end of crosses the way he did for the first goal.
Alphonso Davies had by far his best game as a Whitecap as he finally transformed “potential” into real world achievements.
He still takes the wrong option every now and then but he seemed far more interested in hurting the opposition than he has in the past. Let’s hope that level of ruthlessness is a feature of his season.
Efrain Juarez was fairly anonymous in the first half but about twenty minutes into the second he appeared to suddenly come to his senses and began to get involved in the game both with the ball and as an organiser/coach whenever he could.
I’m not sure the MLS era Whitecaps have ever had a player who fills that kind of pseudo “Captain” role in the centre of the field and it will be an interesting dynamic to watch as the season progresses.
The biggest area of concern has to be the form of Yordy Reyna.
Yes it’s only the first game of the season, but he ended the last with exactly the same kind of lethargic display.
At his best Reyna thrives on devilment and speed of thought and foot and all three were missing on Sunday afternoon.
He probably just needs time to get his form up and running but there are new players waiting in the wings who could well push the Peruvian out of the picture if his overall play doesn’t improve.
Elsewhere Aaron Maund used the ball well from the back but was caught out of position on the Montreal goal and Russell Teibert had one of his better games as he even used the option of the forward ball from time to time.
It’s worth bearing in mind that a 2-1 win against a very poor Impact team is hardly the stuff of legends in the making but the Whitecaps have failed this kind of test more than once in recent years so it would be churlish to be hyper-critical of the three points no matter how it is was earned.
Two tough road games to come that will no doubt give us a better idea of how Carl Robinson intends to slot his new signings into the team but, for now, all is good in the world of the Whitecaps.
Time for your Soccer Shorts player ratings.
Marinovic-6, Nerwinski-6, de Jong-6, Waston-6, Maund-5, Teibert-6, Juarez-6, Davies-6.5*, Techera-6, Reyna-4.5, Kamara-6
2 thoughts on “Vancouver Whitecaps: One down, thirty three (plus playoff games, MLS Cup Final and victory parade) to go”
I wonder if Russell B is an accredited journalist at B.C. Place or is such insightfullness and honesty a big red card?
Thanks for the kind words Pat! I actually was (and could be still if I chose). The Whitecaps media team are actually pretty great at that kind of thing