From yesterday but now with updated “musings”.
What’s a fella to do?
You want your team to build from the back with the kind of short passing style that’s all the rage in Europe right now but all you have at your disposal are MLS level defenders?
Sure, you can work with them in training session after training session on honing their skills and their movement but if, when game day rolls along, goals keep being conceded because of a moment’s hesitation or because in an attempt to take up a more forward thinking position the man you are supposedly covering gets acres of freedom, then that’s a lesson that will live longer in the mind and the muscle memory than any number of scrimmage drills.
Can Dos Santos coach the MLS out of his more “functional” players? Well, if he can it will be at the cost of points dropped and games lost and, for all the talk of “we are basically an expansion team”, the Whitecaps actually aren’t. And there will be a core of the fan base who just aren’t interested in long term projects and simply want the Whitecaps to be in and around the playoffs in the way they have been in the last few years.
And boy oh boy do the Whitecaps keep giving away bad goals.
Even the “Why didn’t VAR overturn it?” penalty kicks are caused by defenders being out of position and the amount of freedom the Houston forwards were afforded in the 3-2 defeat on Saturday afternoon has to be a systemic failure rather than a whole catalogue of individual errors.
(But isn’t a whole catalogue of individual errors the very definition of a systemic failure? Maybe it is).
Either way Vancouver improved greatly in the second half, passed the ball with crispness, harried their opponents and probably deserved more than their third straight defeat of the season.
They still weren’t incisive enough however, with Andy Rose offering no attacking threat at all and neither full back getting forward in any kind of meaningful way. Whichever structure Dos Santos has tried he still hasn’t figured out a way to provide support to his forwards and that’s almost as worrying as the defensive fragility.
It was certainly refreshing to see Marc Dos Santos make significant changes at half time but, to be fair, no coach in the world could look at that first half performance and think “Hmm, maybe I’ll give it another fifteen minutes?”
In an equitable world Lass Bangoura will have earned a start ahead of Yordy Reyna in the next game. Reyna looked out of sorts for every minute he was on the field; lethargic, and unsure of himself.
Maybe he just isn’t the right player for a team that needs its forwards to press both effectively and often?
Bangoura offered energy and directness when running with the ball from the moment he came on and while he lacks Reyna’s guile he offered far more options for those around him and, for the first time in the game, the Houston defenders had to do more than simply outnumber their counterparts.
And the same could probably be said for Fredy Montero, with the Colombian barely involved beyond winning and scoring the penalty kick that drew the Whitecaps level for the first time.
He’s certainly not getting any meaningful chances from open play right now.
But while zero points from the first three games is the very definition of “Not ideal”, there are still enough glimpses of what might make this team worth watching.
Ultimately they may be undone by the coach wanting them to be more than they can ever really be, but that’s better than a coach who wants them to be the lowest sum of their collective parts.
Three home games in the next four won’t quite decide the fate of the season, but they may well decide its tenor.
Time for the Soccer Shorts player ratings.
Crepau-5, Godoy-5, Henry-6*, Cornelius-3, Sutter-4, PC-4, Erice-5, Rose-4, Hwang- 5.5, Reyna-3, Montero-4 (Bangoura-5.5)