Vancouver Whitecaps: Shea Stadium

The release of the MLS Player’s Salary details this week provided a perfect storm of confirmation bias for fans of the Whitecaps.

For they now knew they had an ownership group who weren’t interested in keeping up with the new spending levels in MLS and a coach who was more than happy to use that lack of ambition as an excuse for the unimaginative way his team played week after week.

And, for the majority of the game, the visit of the Houston Dynamo did nothing other than confirm the arrival of said storm.

The Whitecaps struggled to play any kind of coherent football, missed any half chances that came their way and conceded to a nicely constructed move only to grab a scrappy goal in return just before half-time.

Those of us who wondered if Vancouver would build on that late goal were left disappointed as we simply got more of the same disjointed attacks and half-hearted flurries forward.

But then, without about twenty minutes to go, Juarez and Reyna came on to the field and out of nowhere the Whitecaps looked as though they were actually interested in playing some decent football and actually wanted to score a goal.

A previously lifeless Davies suddenly looked a threat and a previously frustrated Felipe suddenly started playing passes in dangerous areas.

For for the first time in a long time the Vancouver Whitecaps were almost fun to watch.

Obviously they missed all of their gilt-edged chances and conceded a late goal and even a very, very late Waston equalizer couldn’t hide the fact that a home tie against Houston isn’t going to turn around any kind of slump.

But let’s hope those twenty minutes somehow convince the coach that actively trying to score goals isn’t that bad an idea at home and that playing some kind of football along the turf isn’t really the highfalutin madness he sometimes seems to think it is.

Will he send out a more attacking lineup against San Jose on Wednesday evening?

We interrupt this blog to bring you some thoughts from the following morning.

In his post-game presser Robinson spoke of how he asked his team to player quicker at half-time and how he was pleased with the way in which the fans got behind the team.

Let’s assume he realizes (or somebody tells him) that those two events are not unrelated and that playing on the front foot at home can often be a very effective strategy (especially against a very poor road team).

Imagine a world where the Whitecaps try to win a game from the get go at BC Place? Can such a wondrous place exist?

Perhaps the most perplexing thing about the aftermath of that game though is that we are still nowhere close to knowing what the best eleven for this team is.

There are those within the Whitecaps organization who will opine that it really doesn’t make any difference who is on the field, such is the flatly balanced ability of all in the squad, but it really does.

A team can’t find coherence if it’s constantly being switched around to keep everybody happy or if the coach is far too frequently reacting to the last game or the last game but one.

From a supporter’s point of view the best case scenario right now is that the players who can somehow break out of Robinson’s tactical passivity all get to start and that means the likes of Davies, Reyna and Felipe.

Those tantalizing glimpses of pleasant football we saw on Friday evening need to be converted in to something so much more from here on in.

Will Robinson encourage that kind of play against San Jose on Wednesday evening?

We now return you to your previous blog.

Almost certainly not, but we can at least dream.

Finally a special shout out to Brek Shea (a Designated Player and the second highest earner on the Whitecaps) who produced a startling cameo in which he missed the easiest chance to score a goal in the history of humanity before cleverly setting up Houston for their second goal with a nice cross field pass.

That’s efficiency right there.

Time for your Soccer Shorts Player Ratings.

Rowe-6, de Jong-5.5, Franklin-6, Aja-5.5, Waston-6*, Felipe-5.5, Ghazal-5, Ibini-4, Davies-5.5, Blondell-5, Kamara-5 (Jaurez-6, Reyna-6, Shea-2)

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