Vancouver Whitecaps: Déjà vu all over again

From yesterday but now with additional free shots on goal.

Six one! Six bloody one!

When Marc Dos Santos took over from Carl Robinson at the end of 2018 most of us hoped there would be both a change of style and a change of attitude from the Vancouver Whitecaps.

And, to be fair, the style change has been evident.

They are more tactically flexible, they look to play out from the back and they are no longer as reliant on the hoofed clearance as the go to attacking option.

But the big problem is that they’re still shit.

Is that a tad too harsh? No. Next question! 

But there have at least been moments when the team show glimpses of how Dos Santos wants them to play but that’s all they are; thirty second clips that show up on Twitter every now and again.

And perhaps the most surprising failure has been how poorly the Whitecaps press without the ball, because pressing doesn’t take technical skill as such, it’s about organization and playing as a team and that should be possible to achieve on a much more consistent level by this stage of the season.

And Saturday’s 6-1 defeat to LAFC simply emphasized that undeniable fact.

There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with losing to LAFC on the road of course; they are easily the best team in MLS right now (and probably the best team MLS has ever seen) but the manner of the defeat was dispiriting.

An early Yordy Reyna goal did nothing to convince Vancouver they had a chance in the game and the following eternity of minutes were filled with endless LAFC attacks while the Whitecaps just got deeper and deeper.

All season there has been an emphasis from the coach that his team have never really been beaten by a large margin. As though losing by a single goal is some kind of achievement. In retrospect, a beat down like this has been coming simply because the Whitecaps have been inviting it by celebrating marginal failures.

And during all that time not one single Whitecaps player wanted to keep the ball. No matter how they received it or where they received it, the first thought was always to get rid of that pesky little round thing that had somehow landed at their feet as quickly as possible.

And that has to be a coaching issue.

It has to be down to how the players are being told to play because not every team in MLS plays that way.

Even the teams as bad (there aren’t many, but work with me here) as the Whitecaps play with some semblance of control. Some semblance of believing that they can break down a defence with something more than an opposition error or a freak moment of quality.

But not Vancouver.

They just continue to play scared.

Scared of losing, scared of trying to win, scared of conceding and scared of trying to make the plays that create chances.

Only Adnan and Reyna have been playing with any kind of confidence in their own ability going forward, with Montero and Ardaiz both being busts in their own different ways.

And the idiotic red card Montero picked up in LA might actually turn out to be a blessing in disguise and compel Dos Santos to think long term about life without a player who has (this time around) been a waste of a Designated Player spot and salary.

The only hope now is that this deserved shellacking will be the wake up call they need.

After all, they aren’t going to make the playoffs and they aren’t going to get better if they continue with this mindset.

So let’s fervently hope this trouncing allows (forces) Dos Santos to throw off the shackles of restraint and that he allows (forces) his players to attempt to play football with some style, some courage.

Because, right now, this is just as bad as it was under Carl Robinson (but with better post-game interviews).

And they are far better!  

Time for the Soccer Shorts player ratings.

Crepeau-3, Nerwinski-3, Levis-3, Godoy-3, Rose-2.5, Henry-3, Teibert-3, Erice-3, In-Beom-2.5, Venuto-2.5, Reyna-4* (Montero-1)




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