Two of the many truisms of football are that returning players always do well against their old club, and whenever a coach says his team need a break, and then they get said break, the team return playing worse.
And both were in evidence during the Whitecaps 2-2 tie with the Colorado Rapids on Saturday evening at BC Place.
Nicolas Mezquida was involved in both Colorado goals and Kei Kamara scored the second.
Both returnees were helped by the fact that the Vancouver players spent the first thirty minutes of the game clearly still daydreaming about whatever vacation they had just been one.
Perhaps to a lovingly restored old farmhouse in Tuscany? Far enough away from the hustle and bustle of modern life to be a true break, but close enough to a small village where, in the morning, they could walk to pick up some fresh bread and maybe some Pecorino if the mood so takes them?
Then, in the evening, a relaxing stroll to that charming cafe whose ever changing chalkboard menu only ever features three simple dishes but with each one being perfection.
Hard to blame the players for the lack of excitement at playing Colorado if that is the case!
In the end though they finally woke up from said daydream and get the two goal back through a Montero penalty kick and a Reyna free kick.
And there is the rub of course.
For all their attacking intent they still failed to generate a goal from open play and still failed to create one genuine clear cut opportunity.
From a tactical perspective Ali Adnan has taken on the Alphonso Davies role of “Just give it to him and hope he does something” and if anything hurt the Whitecaps with regard to absentees it was being forced to switch from 5-3-2 (which allows Adnan more opportunities to get forward) to 4-3-3 (which places the onus on the players who are paid to score goal to score goals).
And yes, we can go on about those absentees due to the Gold Cup etc. but the attacking line was about as close to the first choice as it could be and the oft mooted new signing (s) can’t come soon enough if this team is going to make any realistic run at the post season.
Realistically though, if you’re chasing the pack and yet still can’t beat Colorado at home, then you are not going to be making the playoffs anyway and the upcoming series of road games could well be the final nail in that particular coffin.
But this was always a long term project. Overturning the years of disjointed and on the fly squad building which left a group of players who were ill fitted to each other and whose salary hit often felt more like a guerrilla art project than it did to any logical evaluation of their worth.
Oh, and Zac MacMath did nothing to move Max Crepeau away from first choice status.
Time for the Soccer Shorts player ratings.
MacMath-3, Nerwinski-4.5, Adnan-6*, Godoy-5.5, Rose-5, Erice-4.5, Felipe-4, In-Beom-5, Venuto-3.5, Reyna-5, Montero-5 (Sutter-3)