The Portuguese word Saudade superficially refers to the sadness we feel at the permanent absence of somebody or something from our lives.
But its meanings are far more layered than that.
It’s not quite grief because grief is mainly an expression of hollow emptiness whereas Saudade is a heady mix of nostalgia, sorrow and even the kind of strange pleasure we sometimes derive from thinking of things which make us sad.
But the best description of the word is “The presence of absence” because that acknowledges that some absences are tangible, palpable, things in and of themselves.
Almost separate entities from the object or person they derive from.
No doubt to many New Yorker’s the Twin Towers are still present by their absence and every displaced person will feel a sense of saudade for the land they were forced to leave behind and can never return to and we all have people or things that evoke a particular kind of loss that doesn’t quite fit the functional limits of the English language.
Saudade is such an evocative and useful word that I almost feel a sense of saudade for the absence of saudade in my life until now.
And the presence of absence will very much be a theme for the Vancouver Whitecaps in their game against Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday evening at BC Place.
Six regular first team players missing due to international call up is less than ideal for coach Craig Dalrymple as his side try to win the remaining three games that would clinch an unlikely playoff spot.
So what are his options?
Well Maund and Aja for Waston and Henry in central defence is a no brainer and the defence has been so prone to errors all season it doesn’t seem to matter who gets the start.
If he wants to continue with his 4-1-4-1 formation then Mezquida can fill in for Teibert as the high pressing forward.
Replacing Yordy Reyna isn’t quite so easy but this week Felipe expressed frustration that he wasn’t played further forward by Carl Robinson so this would be the ideal opportunity to slot the Brazilian in as the number ten.
He’s a very different type of player to Reyna but given the chance he has the ability to play a pass that can cut through a defence.
With Shea and Techera out wide (barring a surprise start for new signing Emnes) that just leaves the defensive midfield role up for grabs.
The obvious choice in terms of positioning and experience is Efrain Juarez but the Mexican has been such a wild card all season Dalrymple may think that’s too much of a risk. He could try Jordon Mutch as a kind of deep-lying playmaker but that would be at the expense of far too much defensive cover.
Another option is drafting in Sean Franklin to simply sit in front of the defence and operate as a kind of slightly further forward central defender.
Update: As pointed out by Glass City on Twitter de Jong is also an option here. My sources (my fevered imagination) had informed me that de Jong had been called up to the Canada squad but apparently not.
The Canadian has played there before without ever really convincing he was right for the role but he might well be the best of a bad bunch right now.
Or the coach could switch to a 4-3-3 and use the experience of Felipe, Mutch and Juarez in the middle to support Kamara, Shea and Techera up front.
None of these answers are wholly convincing and at least half the team will be faced with the challenge of being severely lacking in match fitness, but it’s not a bad starting eleven on paper and hints at just how much depth the Whitecaps have at their disposal.
But the season now rests on the shoulders of the players who were gradually left by the wayside as the year progressed.
Let’s hope they all feel they have something to prove.