Vancouver Whitecaps: Scroll down for more

Now with added “murmurings” from the day after.

One of the things to do in Denver right now is see the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibition at the Museum of Science and Nature.

The museum itself is great, the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibition not so much.

Any science museum using the word “miracle” to describe the discovery of one of its displays has crossed a line it probably didn’t want to cross.

And anyway (and this is just a personal preference of course) it’s far more awe-inspiring to see how human beings figured out how to land a working exploratory vehicle on the surface of Mars than it is to walk passed a collection of pots and cups from centuries ago.

Yet the fragments of the Scrolls themselves are a marvellous thing to behold.

The thought that back in the day somebody scribbled down a mix of religious belief, poetry and “I bet they’ll like this bit” in a way that somehow formed the basis of so much of our intellectual world today can’t help but transcend glib observations and ingrained cynicism.

Today those fragments of parchment are safely guarded beneath thick glass but in the 1950’s the archeologists of the time tried to piece them together using nothing but a “can do” attitude and Scotch Tape, leaving future colleagues the unenviable task of trying to remove modern-day sticky tape from arguably the greatest find their field has ever had the opportunity to deal with.

Yet who can blame those Fifties pioneers?

The need to make coherent sense from isolated fragments of information is kind of what religion is anyway and it’s certainly what Carl Robinson is doing right now with his Whitecaps team.

In Colorado he stuck with the 4-4-2 system but this time pairing Blondell and Reyna up front and Juarez and Felipe as the central two midfielders (oh and Brek Shea at left back just for shits and giggles).

And it worked pretty much perfectly.

In the first half the Whitecaps looked dangerous every time they went forward and only a short spell toward the end of the first half, just after the Rapids had pulled a goal back, produced any sustained pressure on the Vancouver defence.

In the second half the Whitecaps managed the game about as well as it’s possible to do on the road with a one goal lead with Juarez and Felipe being particularly effective in both slowing the game down and keeping possession (and how nice was it to see Vancouver play short, simple passes in lieu of the hoofed ball up field?)

Doneil Henry looked impressive in central defence in his first full start for the club and Yordy Reyna is as close to back to his best as makes no difference and that may well explain the recent upsurge in offensive threat as much as any change of formation.

If Henry stays fit that will surely mean Aja will make way for the return of Kendall Waston from World Cup duty. That would arguably be the best central defensive pairings the Whitecaps have had in the MLS era.

But it also opens the possibility of Robinson playing three at the back and making full use of the pacy full backs he has. That would be a risk if the current system continues to produce goals but not a crazy one if the current systen continues to leak goals.

On the debit side Alphonso Davies still needs to learn to make the right decision more often than not and although Brian Rowe will be pleased to finally be on the winning team his lack of presence in the area feels like it invites more pressure than is warranted.

A disappointingly quiet outing for Anthony Blondell as well, although it could be that the current plan is to have the target man play deep in order to create space behind for the onrushing Techera, Reyna, Davies etc.

I’m not sure if we should be grateful Robinson has finally made use of the attacking talent at his disposal or frustrated that it took him this long to do so.

The idea of two central midfielders feeding simple passes to the four attacking players in front of them has changed the whole dynamic of the team.

And the last few games must surely have dispelled the theory that the coach was simply playing the way he did becasue of the players he had. Turns out they could actually pass the ball all along! They just weren’t being allowed to do so.

A rare case of players getting the best out of their coach perhaps?

Nobody should get carried away with a win against the worst team in MLS but a win is a win is a win and watching the Whitecaps right now doesn’t feel like the exercise in futility it has done for so much of this season.

This makes the next home game against Orlando all the more important. If the Whitecaps want to drag themselves back into serious playoff contention they need to win that and go into the World Cup break on something of a high.

The schedule from now on doesn’t get any easier but Vancouver have an uncanny knack of playing to the level of their opponents making a fifth or sixth place finish a distinct possibility (a top four finish seems too much of a stretch given the games played and those yet to come).

Carl Robinson seems to have found a system that just about works so let’s not go ripping off any of the tactical sticky tape holding it all together just yet.

We might discover none of it makes any sense and then it will all just collapse beneath the weight of its own nonsense.

Time for the Soccer Shorts Player Ratings.

Rowe- 5.5, Nerwisnki-5.5, Aja-5.5, Henry-6, Shea-5.5, Felipe-6, Juarez-6, Techera-5.5, Davies-5.5, Reyna-6.5*-Blondell-5

3 thoughts on “Vancouver Whitecaps: Scroll down for more”

  1. Things to do in Denver – dead sea scrolls – unlike Kamara in the first minute of play last week, you kicked off the article with some strong play, didn’t miss that sitter.

    Do you ever believe, slightly peeved – by the lack of feedback – that you’re under -appreciated? You always seem to have moments- occasionally coursing through the entire effort – of true quality, originality in every article. I guess entertaining yourself must be part of the equation.

    Sometimes I wonder how your efforts would be presented if you posted say every month. Do you write for other sites?


  2. Well, I read your stuff even though I don’t comment. I only skip the posts that are unreasonably negative, haha.


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