Marc Dos Santos tried a new formula for the trip to Orlando on Saturday afternoon.
MacMath in goal, add one more central defender, subtract two wide players and play Fredy Montero alongside Yordy Reyna up front.
It almost worked.
But Orlando got a late deflected goal and the Whitecaps traveled back from Florida with nothing but a vague sense of pride in the amount of work they put in.
For sure the team have become defensively solid over the last few games but the still unsolvable equation of how to get the attack firing remains.
Reyna and Montero did work hard, but with players of that quality we need to be talking about so much more than their effort.
But the biggest problem remains the midfield.
In-Beom has shown he can get forward at times (and missed a glorious chance to put his team ahead in Orlando) but Teibert and Felipe were attacking black holes.
At least Teibert offers movement and a willingness to release the ball quickly, but Felipe always seems to need one touch too many or one second too long to weigh up his options and any potential forward momentum is lost.
And let’s not even speak of his continued inability to deliver a decent ball into the opposition penalty area.
And while we are not speaking of things let’s also not speak about the attempts to build from the back.
It’s nice that Dos Santos wants his defenders to be comfortable on the ball and play a series of short passes but if that series of short passes results in the ball eventually being returned to the goalkeeper who then hoofs it long to lose possession it all seems a bit futile.
I’m glad I didn’t mention it.
Still, Major League Soccer seasons aren’t decided by excessively long road trips to out of Conference rivals and the team now has a full week to prepare for the visit of the Philadelphia Union.
But Major League Soccer seasons are decided by being able to beat out of Conference rivals who have just endured an excessively long road trip and the Whitecaps need to figure out how to make the attacking pieces work or the still within reach playoffs will begin to fade into the distance.
Oh and one final thing.
It wasn’t immediately obvious from the television coverage but TSN analyst Paul Dolan was fairly livid with the brief substitute appearance of Joaquin Ardaiz, citing his complete lack of effort for a team that desperately needed to defend from the front.
Not a good look for the twenty year old.
Time for the Soccer Shorts player ratings.
MacMath-6, Sutter-5.5, Adnan-5.5, Godoy-5.5, Henry-5, Cornelius-5, Teibert-5, Felipe-4, In-Beom-5, Montero-5, Reyna-6*