So hope springs eternal for the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Well, maybe not “eternal” but at least until the next game because the 2-1 win in Toronto and other results around the league keep the Whitecaps within sniffing distance of a playoff place.
Interim coach Craig Dalrymple has been (perhaps surprisingly) conservative with his team selections; a Shea for a Techera being his most radical switch.
But he has moved Russell Teibert from the deep-lying, vague playmaker role that was so obviously not suited to his talents to a more forward pressing midfielder and that change paid dividends on Saturday afternoon.
Especially on the first goal.
For the first time in what feels like forever Vancouver did some actual passing and moving around the opposition penalty area and on the end of that passing and moving was Teibert, one of their central midfielders.
The rest of the game was the story of two teams not quite doing what they were trying to do although “not quite” might be a generous assessment of Toronto FC.
The reigning MLS Cup champions were shambolic almost from the first whistle and the Whitecaps had more than one opportunity to break through their non-existent midfield and put the game out of reach but always lacked the decisive pass or the right decision.
It still remained fairly comfortable until disaster struck int he second half when Toronto had a man sent off and the Whitecaps were forced to face their nemesis.
With crushing inevitability Doneil Henry put his hands where they shouldn’t be and Jozy Altidore converted the spot kick and the season seemed to be ebbing away once again.
Fortunately Toronto remained shambolic and substitute Jordon Mutch found himself with both acres of space and a calmer head than most of his teammates and he set up Kei Kamara for the tap in winner.
It’s far too late to speak of turning points at this stage of the season and there’s still a lot wrong with this team but Aly Ghazal is far better suited to being a lone defensive shield than as part of a pair (although he retains the ability to make at least one horrendously bad pass in every game) and neither Shea nor Techera will ever bring the consistency needed for a regular starting spot.
But Reyna having a hard worker like Teibert beside him frees him to be a creative threat and Kamara benefits from having players in the same colour shirt as him within thirty yards.
The playoffs are still a longshot at best and, because MLS is insane, the Whitecaps will be without half of their favoured starting eleven for their next game against Kansas but at least we still have more of that thing with feathers than we really should have given the kind of season this has been.
Time for the Soccer Shorts player ratings.
Marinovic- 6.5, Nerwinski-6, Levis-5.5, Waston-6, Henry-5, Ghazal-6, Shea-4, Teibert-6.5*, Reyna-6, Davies-5, Kamara-6