Vancouver went all Thomas Hardy on us on Saturday by creating a backdrop of grey skies and bouncing rain to externalize the internal emotional torment of having to watch the worst team in the Western Conference play the second worst.
In the end though the game wasn’t without its charm or points of interest and the Whitecaps got a hard earned, and perhaps somewhat fortunate, 2-1 victory over Houston.
In the week Marc Dos Santos had spoken about how his thinking about player recruitment has changed over the course of the season.
Fading out from the belief in signing players to fit his chosen system to instead fading in to signing the best players available and then finding a system to suit them.
In retrospect (and probably in prospect too) that was ambitiously naive.
I’m not sure even the highest spending MLS teams can be quite so selective about finding players to fit a particular system and the nature of the beast is simply to make do and mend with whatever rags and tags of mismatched cloth are thrown the way of the coach.
Against Houston Dos Santos opted for the rag and tag of 4-3-3 and it looked a decent system on paper.
Ricketts as the target man with Reyna and Chirinos free to make hay in the wide roles.
Except that’s not how it panned out, with neither Chirinos nor Reyna ever really being involved in the game to any meaningful extent during open play.
And that’s the issue Dos Santos will face next year and the one he will need to resolve.
He may like the 4-3-3, but all it did was exclude his best attacking player from the heart of the action. Reyna has been a constant goal threat when playing centrally this year so taking him away from the role felt like an error.
Not that such errors matter all that much when Vancouver have a midfield that plays like three strangers with, once again, only In-Beom offering even the hint of attacking threat.
And I suppose we have to talk about Zac MacMath?
The American was signed to be the starting goalkeeper and almost immediately lost the role to Max Crepeau and seemingly he lost either his concentration and confidence (or both) along with it.
And yesterday was textbook MacMath (and none of us like to see the words “Math” and “Textbook” so close to each other right?) He played well for most of the game but still gifted Houston their goal by saving a shot that seemed to be going wide and pushing the ball back toward the centre of the goal for an easy tap in.
Fortunately Fredy Montero is still the same player he always was when he gets close to the six yard box and MacMath’s blushes were spared.
It would be nice to see the Whitecaps close out the next three games with a series of decent results, but what would be even nicer would be for the newly created role of “Person in charge of finding good players” to be filled in ample time for good players to be found.
Time for the Soccer Shorts player ratings.
MacMath-4, Sutter-5, Adnan-6*, Hnery-5, Cornelius-5, Rose-4.5, Teibert-5, In-Beom-6, Chrinos-4.5, Reyna-5, Ricketts-4.5