Vancouver Whitecaps take their chances

Now with additional points de vue from the day after.

Well that was better.

For what feels like the first time since the introduction of the steam engine the Vancouver Whitecaps played like an actual team who wanted to win an actual game of football rather than a disparate collection of ne’er do wells happy to collect the mercenary coin of an employer they neither cared for nor held in high regard.

The 2-0 victory over the Montreal Impact at BC Place on Wednesday evening felt more like the release of a pressure valve than a sporting achievement but it does lead us to ask a question that hasn’t been asked about this team for the longest time.

What went right?

Well, Aly Ghazal and Russell Teibert provided the defensive midfield coverage that has so obviously been missing.

It’s a fairly damning indictment of Carl Robinson that he still can’t figure out how to successfully set up a team without the presence of two defensive midfielders (particularly at home) but we are where we are and what works is what works.

Marcel de Jong and Jake Nerwinski both took the opportunity to get forward from the full back position whenever they could (and helped to create both of the goals).

Brek Shea and Cristian Techera were both involved in the game from the get go and Yordy Reyna was a menace whenever he was on the ball.

Could we play amateur psychologist and wonder if the departure of Alphonso Davies has set Reyna back to being the creative hub of the team and that being the centre of such attention suits his on filed personality?

We could. But only time will tell if we are right.

Time will also tell how the reintroduction of Davies for the remainder of the season affects the rest of the team.

There are already signs the club will be making a push to turn the whole thing into a farewell tour for the kid and while all who have followed him for the last couple of years are thrilled there are still competitive games to play and there has to be some kind of limit set on how much a team should be celebrating the departure of their best player.

The Davies to Bayern Munich story must be like catnip to the marketing arm of the Whitecaps of course but the footballing appendage of the club needs to keep focused.

Time will also tell how the Whitecaps build on this performance as a whole.

The last thing they need to do, the very last thing, is to consider this game as proving the naysayers wrong and simply assuming that all is now well.

At the time of writing this performance sits as an outlier rather than the norm and they need to go out and do it again and again and again before anybody will really be convinced by their coherence.

We can probably give Carl Robinson some leeway when he suggested in his post game interview that the character of his players has never been in doubt given how relieved he must have felt with the win but the character of his players has very much been in doubt and remains very much in doubt given the appalling run of results and lack of discipline they’ve exhibited in recent weeks.

That character will continue to be tested and assessed over the course of the rest of the season and only then will anybody be able to make a definitive claim to its worth.

That gives Carl Robinson some tough choices.

Neither Ghazal nor Teibert should be left out after the way they played against Montreal but that would mean confining Felipe to the bench.

He should leave Felipe on the bench if only to hammer the home the idea that what the players do on the field is more important than what they earn in their paycheck but the smart money would bet against that.

But hopefully this performance will put paid to the line of thinking which argues this group of players is incapable of competing in MLS.

Sure, they were only playing a second string Impact side but they created chances, worked for each other and defended as a unit.

Any team consistently doing all of those thing will be difficult to beat and will certainly be edging much closer to the playoff line than Vancouver currently are.

Maybe we’ll never find out why the season up to now has been such a shambles (and let’s not bet against the shambles returning before too long) but we’ve at least seen a template for how this side can function successfully.

Robinson would be unwise not to follow that template for what’s left of the campaign.

Time for the Soccer Shorts player ratings.

Marinovic-6, de Jong-6, Waston-5, Henry-6, Nerwinski-6, Teibert-6.5, Ghazal-6, Shea-6, Techera-5.5, Reyna-6.5*, Kamara-5

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s