From yesterday but now with additional tactical naivety.
It’s hard to know which is worse.
Watching the Whitecaps lose when the players aren’t really giving their all, or watching them lose when they are.
They are each probably equally bad in their own specific way and Saturday’s 3-1 defeat to the San Jose earthquakes was another nail in the coffin of a season that is now more iron than pine.
At least the game started well, with Vancouver getting an early goal from a set-piece (of course a set-piece) but then things began to form a familiar pattern.
For sure this team is mentally fragile as Dos Santos keeps saying, but they now seem to be so mentally fragile that scoring a goal affects them as badly as conceding one. They pressed and harried San Jose for the first few minutes and got their reward. What is it in their psyche that makes them think “Well that worked, but now let’s revert to the style of play that has failed us miserably over the last few weeks”?
I do not have the answer to this question.
San Jose pressed and the Whitecaps sat deep. San Jose pressed some more and the Whitecaps sat deeper still, until every cross was pinging around the six yard box and creating more mayhem than a group of pensioners with only five minutes left on the early bird special at an all you can eat buffet.
And so the San Jose goals came and the Whitecaps went in at the half with a one goal deficit.
But that wasn’t too bad.
They had made the Earthquakes work for their spoils and recent games had featured something of a revival for Vancouver in the second period, so we settled in for the rest of the game with hope (if not belief) in our hearts.
Our hearts were telling us lies.
The visitors dominated from the get go. Firing shots and winning corners at will and, by the end, the 3-1 scoreline flattered a home team who didn’t give up, but had nothing to offer to counter their opponents.
The best case scenario is that Dos Santos is indulging in the footballing equivalent of a sacrificial blood letting. Allowing the evil demons to escape BC Place through suffering and chaos and then appeasing the gods before a pre-season cleansing ceremony that allows this team to start afresh.
But that scenario is a long shot to be fair.
Random thoughts on the game?
Every time a San Jose player was in possession he had options to pass to and one of those options was almost always a forward ball.
When a Vancouver player was in possession they had nothing to aim for but a high and hopeful ball forward or a safe and simple back pass.
And that difference isn’t about the salary cap or signing a big name player. That’s about the very basics of the game.
But all too often the gap between the Whitecaps midfield and their forward line is almost a third of the pitch (more at times) and there’s no way a team can create meaningful chances playing in such a way and it’s baffling why such a simple issue hasn’t been addressed.
And while replacing Kei Kamara with Fredy Montero made some kind of sense at the start of the season, it’s now richly ironic that the Whitecaps have ended up playing in a fashion that would make the most of Kamara’s talents.
Just getting Hwang In-Beom to stand on the attacking side of the centre circle and never drift deeper would create more headaches for opposition defences than how he is currently being used.
Lass Bangoura looked like nothing more than a Dollarama Yordy Reyna, relying on pace to make up for his lack of first touch or overall awareness. Jake Nerwinski will never be an attacking full back and if Dos Santos wants the right side to mirror Ali Adnan then an upgrade is seriously needed.
Oh, and the substitutions made no sense.
Bringing on two tall central attackers and Felipe was very much the mark of a coach who is just hoping that something will work right now.
In many ways that was the most concerning aspect of the game. Perhaps the theory was to use Ardaiz and Bair to hold up the ball and for Felipe to help the midfield keep some kind of possession?
But in practice it was a mess.
Still, it was definitely an improvement on the Kansas game, so there is that.
Time for the Soccer Shorts player ratings.
Crepeau-5.5, Nerwinski-3, Henry-4, Godoy-5, Adnan-5, Eriece-4.5, In-Beom-5, Teibert-4, bangours-3, Montero-4, Reyna-5.5* (Ardaiz-3.5, Felipe-3.5)