Vancouver Whitecaps bring Orlando to heel

Before we get too carried away we would do well to remember that the last two teams the Vancouver Whitecaps have beaten have amassed the grand total of zero points from thirteen games combined.

Still, beating bad teams has been the Achilles Heel of this team since Homer was a lad so credit where credit is due.

For about seventy minutes the game against Orlando was going according to the well established script.

The Whitecaps played okay in the first half but were over reliant on the pace of Davies to create any realistic chances and they then began the second with gusto but missed the chances they created before losing all sense of focus when Orlando were reduced to ten men.

It’s indicative of the mindset Carl Robinson has instilled in his team that they regard the weakening of the opposition as a moment to sit back rather than to strike and their “possession for the sake of possession” football handed the impetus to the visitors and the inevitable equalizer arrived.

Thankfully that goal prompted the coach to make a double change and the arrival of Mutch and Mezquida switched the dynamic back in favour of the home side.

Mezquida is nothing if not a constantly lively presence and Mutch is a central midfielder who genuinely wants to get forward and the floodgates promptly opened.

Alphonso Davies won’t get the kind of space he was given on Saturday afternoon very often but he exploited it to deadly effect.

Maybe coming face to face with fellow Canadian Will Johnson acted as a spur, but this was the young Canadian’s best game for the Whitecaps by some distance.

We know he’s quick and can get by almost any defender but this time around he was quick and taking note of where his fellow forwards were. Maybe that’s a sign of growing maturity or maybe it’s just that there’s a chemistry developing between players given the chance to play together on a regular basis?

Whatever the cause Vancouver now look like a team who are capable of scoring in any game (and who would have thought that a few short weeks ago?)

They also look like a team capable of conceding in any game too of course and their ultimate undoing will no doubt be the amount of space this 4-4-2 system concedes in the middle of the park but if they are going to be a mess then at least let them be an entertaining one.

Elsewhere Brek Shea also had his best game as a Whitecap. When he arrived from Orlando Shea made it pretty clear he didn’t really enjoy playing the left back role but now that the “Alphonso Davies offers an attacking threat at left back” train has trundled out of town Shea’s only chance to start is either in defence or as cover for when Davies needs a rest.

Does the upcoming two week break comes at a good or bad time for the Whitecaps?

They’re in good form so probably want to play as soon as possible but they also have plenty of time to try to figure out the defensive issues (hopefully without curtailing the attacking threat) and two weeks of feeling good about themselves won’t do any harm to anybody.

The main thing now is that Robinson doesn’t over think things from a tactical point of view.

Since he moved to the 4-4-2 formation his team have become enjoyable to watch and actually likeable again.

That will do for now.

Time for the Soccer Shorts player ratings.

Rowe-6, Nerwisnki-6, Shea-6, Henry-6, Aja-6, Ghazal-5, Felipe-5.5, Techera-5, Davies-8*, Reyna-6, Kamara-6 (Mutch-6, Mezquida-6)




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