It has been one step back, one step forward and then one more step back for the Vancouver Whitecaps this season.
And Saturday’s 3-1 loss to San Jose was one of the more dispiriting backward lurches.
After a spell of five games where Vancouver looked to have found at least a modicum of coherence they played this game as though the very concept of passing the ball to another member of their own team was the athletic equivalent of explaining the existence of the u=5/2 state in the fractional quantum Hall effect.
It wasn’t a surprise they were pushed back against a home team who were rebounding from being humiliated in LA earlier in the week and it wasn’t a surprise they were out possessed.
But what was surprising was just how deep they sat and just how poor they were in virtually every aspect of the game (we are betting without Max Crepeau here of course).
Marc Dos Santos’ post game interview summed the tactical nuances of the game up perfectly. San Jose were by far the better team and that’s that.
So where does this leave the Dos Santos project right now?
Worryingly it means it is in urgent need of another overhaul and, given the Whitecaps recruitment policy is to mostly take punts on untried players, they are going to have to hit the mark with almost all their transfer gambles in the off season.
How many players are we talking about?
Well, we can probably keep the defence as is (although an upgrade at right back would be nice if not the most pressing priority).
In the midfield only Hwang In-Beom should be starting next season as Russell Teibert and Andy Rose once again disappeared into oblivion in San Jose, offering neither defensive cover nor attacking support.
And, up front, only Yordy Reyna (with Theo Bair as a bench player) should be back.
That leaves four positions (ideally five) to be filled for 2020 and these can’t be players who make up the numbers; they have to be players of genuine quality who can play football in the manner that just about everybody else in MLS is doing right now.
For the last four years (probably five) the Whitecaps have been staring at the “Important updates are available. Please restart your organization” button and asking the world to remind them again in four months.
Now they suddenly discover the rest of the league has moved to an entirely new operating system run by expensively recruited IT teams while they still rely on family members to try and install the whole thing with a disc they bought at that that pop up stall in the mall.
At least the off season will be “interesting” in an apocryphal Chinese curse kind of way.
Time for the Soccer Shorts player ratings.
Crepeau-7*, Nerwinski-3, Adnan-3, Henry-3, Cornelius-3, Teibert-2, Rose-2, In-Beom-3, Montero-2, Bair-3, Reyna-4