For the first forty five minutes of the game against the Portland Timbers it all felt very déjà vu for the Vancouver Whitecaps.
The passed the ball successfully but with little ambition and, by the end of the half, they were starting to drift back towards their own goal as the Timbers started to increase the pressure.
But in the second half déjà vu turned into déjà new as Vancouver came out of the blocks with some fire in their belly and were rewarded by Lucas Cavallini heading home from a corner on which he was mysteriously ignored by the Portland defence.
After that they belied their history once more by not being terrible at holding on to that one goal lead.
Maybe they could have pushed forward more? Maybe they allowed the Timbers a bit too much of the ball? But, besides the odd inevitable chance here and there, they mostly kept their opponents at arms length and racked up an all too rare three points to start the season.
And it would be easy to dwell on a few more of the negatives. So let’s do that.
There was still a limited ability to create chances from open play, the midfield rarely got involved in an attacking sense and Max Crepeau was keener to parry the ball into dangerous areas than catch it.
But on the positive side Cristian Dajome was excellent, Déiber Caicedo made a promising debut and the defence looked like a functioning entity rather than a collection of individuals desperately trying to kick or head the ball in the right direction.
It’s still ridiculously early to make a definitive judgment of course, but the Whitecaps can take hope from this performance and, throw in the arrival of what feels like a whole army of players who can’t yet play, the 2021 season might not turn out to be a pit of hopeless despair after all.
Time for the Soccer Shorts player ratings!
Crepeau-4.5, Nerwinski-6, Guttierez-6, Rose-6, Veselinovic-6, Bikel-5.5, Baldisimo-5, Dajome-6*, Teibert-5, Caicedo-5.5, Cavallini-5