Every story has to be about something I suppose.
And perhaps the big story of the Vancouver Whitecaps goalless tie with the Seattle Sounders was that the Whitecaps bench had been moved significantly to the left.
Was Marc Dos Santos making some kind of subliminal point about the steady rightward drift of contemporary politics? That, no matter how many beasts slouch toward Bethlehem to be born, the Whitecaps will remain steadfastly on the side of good?
Or maybe he just wanted to be closer to the fourth official?
Hard to say really.
The game itself was by far the most promising of the Dos Santos era.
His team were (finally) defensively sound with Godoy and Henry being outstanding in the centre and Ali Adnan making an impressive debut at left back.
But the absence of In-Beom was felt in the centre of the field where both Felipe and Teibert kept the ball well but never with any meaningful forward momentum.
Maybe that’s partly down to the options available to them?
Fredy Montero was frequently left isolated and outnumbered and, even when he did receive the ball with his back to goal, was unable to hold up play long enough for his teammates to join him.
On the showings so far this season Ardaiz is the better option in the current system, strong and just about skillful enough to pose problems with the ball at his feet.
PC and Bangoura did decent work on the flanks but those areas only real came alive with the introduction of Lucas Venuto who showed a willingness to run directly at the Sounders defence with the ball at his feet.
And once again we are faced with the prospect of an impact sub making a case to start the next game.
The good news is that it creates healthy competition within the squad. The bad news is that it may well be the case that the Whitecaps have amassed a group of players who only function at their best as impact subs.
Time will tell.
Elsewhere it’s becoming clear that Jon Erice is a new type of captain for the Whitecaps.
He’s not in the “He’s the best player so make him captain” mold of Pedro Morales nor the “He shows a lot of passion so make him captain” mold of Kendall Waston.
Rather Erice seems to be Dos Santos’ voice on the field, directing the tactical nuances of the team as the match goes on. He’s an interesting player to focus on a for a few minutes of any game.
Overall this was a hugely promising leap forward for the Dos Santos era with signs that the players are buying into the system he is trying to sell.
And I guess we also have to mention VAR (sigh).
Say what you want about the excitement of a potential game winning penalty kick being awarded in the final minute of a Cascadia Derby but, for the paying customers, that pales into insignificance compared to the sight of a man holding his finger to his ear for several minutes before trotting over to a TV screen for another minute and then trotting back to announce that the penalty kick isn’t going to happen after all.
Or maybe the officials saw Dos Santos’ clever attack on the current political culture and countered with their own?
A populace having their lives altered by a group of men using technology in a way that doesn’t quite fit the original remit says far more about modern society then simply moving a bench a few metres to the left.
Dos Santos must do better next time!
Time for the Soccer Shorts player ratings.
Crépeau- 6, Nerwinsky-5.5, Henry-6.5, Godoy-6.5*, Adnan-6.5 Erice-6, Teibert-5.5, Felipe-5, PC-5, Lass-5, Montero-4 (Venuto-6, In-Beom-5, Ardaiz-5.5)