A home game against a poor Conference rival. An early lead through a set piece goal. Failure to take the initiative and build on that early advantage and allow the opposition to grow in confidence. Concede an equalizer thanks to a defensive loss of concentration. Resort to hitting long balls to an isolated forward. Fall behind but then another set piece goal and a late attacking flurry creates the illusion that the game could have gone either way.
It’s hard to see how the Whitecaps can continue with Carl Robinson at the helm given the Groundhog Day nature of every game and….
Wait? What? When did that happen?
I’m joking of course. I exclusively found out about the Dos Santos hire a few weeks ago but, like all great art, that opening paragraph contains both truth and untruth. Hints of whispers of shadows that may or may not exist.
So what actually happened in the 3-2 loss to Minnesota?
Well, at times the Whitecaps played some very nice one touch football, kept the ball on the ground and moved for each other.
And, at times, they forgot all that and resorted to hoping Fredy Montero could out jump two large central defenders.
At times they pressed as a unit and forced Minnesota into dangerous turnovers.
And, at times, Hwang In-Beom was pressing alone and searching forlornly for a team mate who was thinking of doing the same.
Overall the Whitecaps were exactly what we knew they were; a work in progress.
The sense of optimism around the Dos Santos hire and the barrage of promos around his coaching style and ability kind of, sort of, created the idea that his Vancouver side would hit the ground running from day one so, in the grand scheme of things, a wake up call such as this may be best for all concerned.
And there were definitely some positives.
In-Beom looks the real deal. All quick passes and movement and dangerous around the opposition area.
New captain Jon Erice too looks a class player and there were already signs that he and In-Beom would form a decent understanding as the games go on.
Lass Bangoura showed that he had both pace and trickery and Erik Godoy looked a solid starter in central defence.
But what about the negatives?
Felipe looked out of place in this formation. Taking three touches when one was the better option, looking back when there were runners ahead of him.
And we can safely describe the choice to build from the back as a “work in progress” with Doneil Henry in particular seeming to do more thinking with the ball at his feet than is good for any of our blood pressures and Jake Nerwinski showed that he remains more valuable as an attacking full back than a defensive one.
Derek Cornelius gets a pass given he was played out of position at left back but the attacking set up of the midfield means the defence will have to be far more organized than they were on Saturday afternoon.
But the most concerning aspect was the inability to create chances from open play (not least because this was also an issue in the pre-season) with even In-Beom seemingly reluctant to get into the danger zone to meet the end of a cross or pick up on a scrap of a loose ball.
But patience will be required for sure and there’s enough things to be optimistic about to make watching this team this season a delight compared to what has gone before but, and this needs saying over and over again, it’s insane that the organization allowed themselves and the team to be in this position.
A tough decision taken a couple of years ago would have saved all this angst.
But avoiding tough decisions and hoping it will all go away and that nobody will notice seems to be par for the course.
Time for the Soccer Shorts player ratings.
Crepeau- 5.5, Nerwinski-4.5, Godoy-5.5, Henry-5, Cornelius- 3.3, Erice-5.5, Felipe-3, In-Beom 6*, Reyna-5, Bangoura-5, Montero-4
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