It’s not entirely clear if Ali Adnan is fully conversant with the karma surrounding the Vancouver Whitecaps and penalty kicks this season, but even a cursory knowledge of the genre would indicate that attempting a panenka in the first minute of a home game against the LA Galaxy wasn’t the best of ideas.
Yet try it he did.
And karma took a sideways glance at his attempt and metaphorically punched him hard in the metaphorical face.
Adnan played pretty well for the rest of the game but that feels a little like the old “Apart from that how was the play Mrs. Lincoln?” line as the Whitecaps slumped to a 2-0 defeat.
Ironically they played their best football of the season in the first half. Genuine passing and movement and even the odd glimpse of goal from open play.
But Fredy Montero had been left out for the more robust Joaquin Ardaiz and this felt like exactly the kind of game Montero had been waiting for (including the early PK) as Ardaiz got the support up front the Colombian has been sadly missing.
Ardaiz did okay. But his hold up play wasn’t stellar enough or his movement sharp enough to convince Marc Dos Santos that he should be a permanent starter in the team just yet.
The second half was fairly terrible for Vancouver.
It felt as though the half-time break gave them all time to reflect on the chances missed and suddenly the Galaxy were in control, chances were falling to Ibrahimovich and there was nothing the coach could do to turn it around.
Things aren’t going to get any easier in the coming weeks and it’s a fine line between developing a style of play and picking up points that Dos Santos has to tread.
But the biggest problem to solve remains the midfield.
Both Felipe and Teibert were neat with the ball but neither played a successful pass into the opposition penalty area (or even touched the ball in said space) and that issue has to be figured out sooner rather than later.
Maxime Crepeau has been good in a goal (spill to Ibrahimovich notwithstanding) but good grief he needs to be quicker with his distribution.
There were multiple occasions on Friday evening when a Whitecaps player was running into open space and desperately calling for the ball while Crepeau surveyed his options with all the lack of urgency of every single person who orders before me in a coffee shop.
The assumption has always been that Vancouver will splash more cash in the summer transfer window, but that will be throwing good money after bad if they can’t keep at least vaguely in touch with the playoff picture.
It’s still nowhere near time to panic, but the pathway to a decent season is getting steeper and narrower with every missed opportunity.
Time for the Soccer Shorts player ratings.
Crepeau-5.5, Nerwinski- 4.5, Henry-5, Godoy-5, Adnan-5.5, Erice-5.5*, Teibert-5, Felipe-5, In-Beom-5.5, Bangoura-5, Ardaiz-5 (Venuto-5.5)