Nobody could look at the tie in Minnesota and the win in Cincinnati and think that all was suddenly well in the world of the Vancouver Whitecaps.
But what they could do, if they really tried, was to think that the task of rebuilding this team wasn’t quite so insurmountable as it appeared during the summer horribilis we have all endured.
Certainly the defence seems to have found its coherence again (And is Derek Cornelius the unsung hero of the team this year? Never first choice in central defence but never looking out of place) and even the midfield is finding a semblance of substance.
More than substance really.
Hwang In-Beom has found his role playing deep in a manner that both allows him to see the game in front of him and removes him from the sterner challenges of the centre of the park.
And both Teibert and Felipe have been so much more effective than at any time previous.
It’s hard to imagine either of them being regular starters next season, but to see them combine for the winning goal was both enjoyable and somehow slightly hilarious (especially as Teibert still managed to turn an assist into a backwards pass).
But, oh dear, the forward line.
Theo Bair is still not an MLS player on any showing he has given thus far and Fredy Montero is a shadow of the player he once was.
Whether that is attitude or aptitude is up for debate, but easy passes are over hit and when the ball arrives at his feet in the penalty area he has become a kind of Darren Mattocks tribute act; all hasty first touches and wrong decisions.
There was a time when the game slowed down for Montero when he received the ball in a dangerous position. Now it just feels as though it’s him that has slowed down in every area of his play.
And then there’s Joaquin Ardaiz.
Marc Dos Santos has been critical of the Uruguayan’s attitude almost since he arrived in Vancouver and maybe it’s that attitude that has made his teammates mistrust him and so avoid giving him the ball, or maybe he’s just disconnected from them in other ways?
Whatever the answer there seems little point in playing Ardaiz at this stage of the season unless a warm body is needed for some reason.
Better to give Theo the opportunity to demonstrate that he can become better than hope Joaquin rises like a phoenix from the ashes of a season that is already dead.
New signings and the return of Yordy Reyna will make the forward line better (it could not be worse) and although this season will still go down as possibly (probably) the worst in the Whitecaps MLS era there are at least signs that the foundations Dos Santos has to build on are sitting somewhere near sea level rather than deep in the depths of despair that seemed to be the case a couple of weeks ago.
Time for the Soccer Shorts player ratings.
Crepeau-6, Nerwinski-5,5, Cornelius-6, Godoy-6, Adnan-6, In-Beom-6*, Teibert-6, Felipe-6, Bair-3, Montero-3, Ardaiz-2
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