After the Whitecaps loss to Colorado last week I whined that the two previous good results had been false dawns. Anomalies that tricked us all into thinking progress had been made whereas, in reality, the Whitecaps were still the same old Whitecaps.
So where does the narrative stand after the 2-0 victory over whatever the hell Montreal are called these days?
The narrative stands with a foot in both camps. Awkwardly hopping from foot to foot, unsure of where to finally come to rest.
The first half on Saturday was confirmation bias catnip for those who think that Vancouver are still too passive when they need to be proactive. All safe and slow passing that pads possession stats without making any kind of progress towards the opposition penalty area.
The second half was power of positivity bindweed for those who think a squad that has been strengthened without being disrupted can grow into the season. All high pressing and pace going forward.
But the simple truth might just be that Marc Dos Santos got his tactics wrong last week.
Moving Dájome away from the centre, playing Alexandre in the number ten role and asking Russell Teibert to be the creator are the kind of decisions that probably feel innovative in some 4 a.m. fever dream but collapse into incomprehension when exposed to the Utah sun.
Against Montreal, Teibert was back on the left where he could protect Gutiérrez, Alexandre was playing in the role he was brought in to play and Dájome was back alongside/just behind Cavallini in attack.
And Dájome is turning out to be a crucial player for the team.
Last year he seemed a somewhat peripheral, if intermittently effective, wide player who could deliver decent crosses for Cavallini to finish. This year he’s been the main creative force simply because he never stops harassing the opposition defence and plays with a refreshing directness.
Alexandre wasn’t his creative equivalent on Saturday but, in the second half, there were signs the Brazilian could play the kind of instinctive first time forward pass the Whitecaps have been severely lacking.
But now let’s turn, with a heavy heart, to Jake Nerwinski.
Nerwinski looked disturbingly out of his depth yesterday. He was targeted as a weak point and almost always took one touch too many that meant his passing was rushed and thus offered Montreal the chance to gain possession in dangerous areas.
If Gaspar is fit he surely has to start on Wednesday and give Nerwinski the break he seems to need in order to get his head back in the right place when he’s on the field.
That game and the visit to Kansas on Sunday should suit the way the Whitecaps want to play and they should also mean more players are given the chance to make a larger contribution.
Dos Santos now has decent depth at his disposal. How he uses that depth will be as important as how sets up the team in each game.
Time for the Soccer Shorts player ratings!
Crépeau-6, Nerwinski-2, Gutiérrez-6, Rose-5.5, Veselinović-5, Bikel-5, Alexandre-5.5, Teibert-5.5, Caicedo-5, Dájome-6*, Cavallini-5.5