So, as expected, the Vancouver Whitecaps brushed aside the Chicago Fire by a convincing two goal margin to set up a last sixteen game against either Toronto FC or Sporting Kansas City.
Well perhaps it wasn’t quite as simple as that, but Marc Dos Santos had a plan and it worked; keep a clean sheet for the first sixty minutes and then introduce the pace of Reyna and Dajome for last half hour to take advantage of tired legs.
This plan was slightly disrupted by an injury to Khmiri and a weather delay, but nothing is ever going to be that simple for this team it seems.
But only somebody with a heart of stone could have watched the game unfold and not felt a sense of delight and relief for a group of players and coaching staff who have gone through so much turmoil over the last few weeks.
And only somebody with a brain of stone could have watched that game and concluded that things were just peachy keen for the Whitecaps going forward.
But this tournament neither signifies nor signals anything.
It exists in an independent reality, separate from both the laws of nature and the laws of common sense.
And, because they are in a Time and Space anomaly, Vancouver somehow progress to the knockout stage without ever looking comfortable in defence in any of their three games.
Nor have they ever looked capable of breaking down an opposition defence that was even approaching competency, but speed and a little bit of luck was enough for them against the Fire.
A mere two day break before taking the field again doesn’t bode well for their chances of progressing further but, given the circumstances, they have already achieved more than they should have done.
So we probably shouldn’t pay too much attention to what might happen further along in the bracket and there will no doubt be smirks of confident satisfaction from whichever of Toronto or Kansas ends up facing Vancouver in the next match.
For now though we should just enjoy a rare and fleeting moment of sporting happiness.
It’s 2020. We need to learn to take what we can.
Time for the Soccer Shorts player ratings.
Hasal-5, Nerwinski-5, Adnan-6*, Veselinovic-5.5, Cornelius-5, Khmiri-4, Teibert-5, In-Beom-4.5, Owusu-5, Bair-4, Raposo-4 (Reyna-6, Dajome-5)