From yesterday but now with additional unseasonal periods of rain.
If the Vancouver Whitecaps aren’t going to make the playoffs this season (They’re not) then at least let them continue not making the playoffs in the manner of their 3-1 loss to the Portland Timbers on Saturday evening.
This wasn’t the Whitecaps of a few weeks ago; all half-hearted effort and tactical ineptitude.
This was a team who had some idea about what they were doing and even believed in that idea.
And a large part of that turnaround has been down to Hwang In-Beom.
The South Korean began his tenure in Vancouver brightly, but then seemed overwhelmed by the physical excesses of MLS and underwhelmed by the technical abilities of some of his teammates.
Nobody can argue the Whitecaps don’t need new players, but these recent performances of In-Beom have highlighted just how shallow the team are in midfield, with neither Teibert nor Rose offering anything of value other than work rate.
Give In-Beom two effective players alongside him and Vancouver become a different team.
But, of late, he has been a player reborn.
Maybe it’s to do with him getting used to the league or maybe it’s because he’s being played in a much deeper position? But he suddenly looks like a genuine difference maker.
He wants the ball, he takes time on the ball when he can and he moves the ball quickly when he needs to and (And this is a revelation for a Whitecaps midfielder) he’s always looking for the forward pass, always twisting his body shape to the opposition goal rather than his own.
That must make life so much more fulfilling for somebody like Yordy Reyna who is constantly making runs to unsettle the opposition defence, just that knowledge that the player on the ball is aware of those runs and has the ability to find him must make the Peruivan’s heart sing.
As with In-Beom the Peruvian is in desperate need of quality alongside him. There was a moment in the second half when Reyna chased and won yet another forward pass and stood with the ball knowing he would have no support.
Then he was astonished to see that Theo Bair had made a run into the box and was available for a pass.
It almost resulted in a goal, but Reyna’s surprise was indicative of what a lone furrow he has been ploughing all season.
Elsewhere Theo Bair scored a magnificent goal but still looked as though he has a lot to learn with the ball at his feet.
Once Ali Adnan went off injured both Jake Nerwinsky and Brett Levis got into good positions but couldn’t cross the ball effectively and Fredy Montero continued to not really care when the ball wasn’t at his feet and to want to take his ball away when another teammate wanted to take a set-piece.
Is this too harsh on Montero? Maybe we’re in the same kind of subconscious reinforcement that occurs everytime Teibert passes the ball backwards?
But, at the very least, Montero does not look like a captain on the field.
Oh and the Whitecaps continued their policy (It has to be a deliberate policy right?) of allowing opponents to shoot at will from just outside the box and it failed them miserably.
But this is all a huge improvement on what has gone before and the Whitecaps have now played two consecutive games of football that were enjoyable to watch.
Heady days indeed!
Time for the Soccer Shorts player ratings.
Crepeau-5, Nerwinski-5, Godoy-6, Cornelius-6, Adnan-5, In-Beom-6.5*, Teibert-5, Rose-4.5, Bair-5.5, Montero-3.5, Reyna-6 (Levis-4.5)