There was a moment somewhere around the seventieth minute of the 2-1 victory over FC Dallas at BC Place when every single Vancouver Whitecaps player ran into a mental, physical and metaphorical brick wall.
Even Russell Teibert, a man whose sole purpose on the planet is to run around a lot on a football field, seemed to be wearing footwear fashioned from hollowed out neutron stars.
Yet somehow they managed to survive and earn a three points which must feel like a long cool soak in a saltwater swimming pool after weeks of crisscrossing the continent like that Bluetooth mouse I once ordered from Amazon.
I mean, if you’re sending something from California to Vancouver why does it have to go through Raleigh-Durham first? It makes no sense! And was it compatible once it arrived? It was not!
Thankfully the Whitecaps players do seem to be compatible with each other or, at the very least, they seem to have developed a collective cussedness that turns adversity into points.
And they really needed that cussedness for the final five minutes on Saturday as Dallas pushed for what would probably have been a deserved equalizer.
Yet Vancouver hung on and now have a whole five days to prepare for the home game against Toronto FC.
Positives from the game?
Both goals for sure. For the first Ali Adnan caressed and pushed his way between two Dallas defenders before trying one of those right foot curlers he has tried in every game thus far.
And this time it worked, as the ball arced deliciously over the outstretched hand of the Dallas goalkeeper whose name I can’t be bothered to look up.
And you know who else couldn’t be bothered to look up?
Fredy Montero, as he created the second goal for Lucas Venuto with the sweetest of back-heels that allowed the Brazilian to calmly side foot home for what turned out to be the winning goal.
The other highlight was the performance of Hwang In-Beom.
The South Korean has looked out of sorts in recent weeks but this was a return to the player we saw in his early days on the team. Always wanting to get on the ball and always looking for the quick pass.
Time will tell if this is the beginning of a resurgence or if In-Beom is just a young player who struggles for consistency.
And how useful a signing does Andy Rose look right now?
He’s better suited to the midfield, but his ability to also play at the back has given Marc Dos Santos the chance to play three at the back in the last two games and thus get a goal in each one from his wing-backs.
The worst is certainly over in terms of travel for this team and, in a way, this is when the real work begins.
Because this is when the Whitecaps need to push on and establish that they are more than just a bunch of scrappy kids who never give up.
Over the next few weeks and months we need to see them develop into a coherent football team.
Time for the Soccer Shorts Player Ratings.
Crepeau-=6, Nerwinski-6, Adnan-7*, Godoy-6.5, Rose-6, Cornelius-5.5, Erice-6, Teibert-5.5, In-Beom-6.5, Venuto-6, Montero-6 (PC-6).