In retrospect, the 1-0 loss to Minnesota United was always going to be “one of those games” for the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Minnesota had lost their first four games and, for a team who are bascially fine, that run really wasn’t going to last.
On another day the Whitecaps could have won by two or three and, on another day, they could have lost by the same score.
It was that kind of game.
The main positive is that Vancouver treated a road game as a chance to pick up three points, rather than the equivalent of an excursion to some uncharted alien territory where simple survival was the very best they could hope for.
They pressed well, they broke with pace when they had the chance and (of course) their set-pieces were a constant threat.
Bruno Gaspar looked better going forward than Nerwinski (a low bar to be sure, but still a bar) and Bikel and Alexandre were composed in midfield.
In an ideal world Alexandre would have been more involved nearer to the opposition goal but at least he wants to (and can) play quick forward passes.
Russell Teibert once again demonstrated that his best position (by far) is in the wide left role and Cristián Gutiérrez once again demonstrated that he can deliver both a good cross and a heartfelt chat with anybody on the field should the opportunity arise.
It’s tempting to wonder how the loss of Andy Rose at half-time tipped the balance of the game. Derek Cornelius did fine as the replacement but he and Veselinovic were split by the game winning cross in a way that may not have happened had Rose still been on the field.
It’s also tempting to wonder if Marc Dos Santos will ever substitute Lucas Cavallini.
The Canadian forward looked gassed in the last fifteen minutes and the introduction of Ricketts or Bair may not have won the game, but it would have given the Minnesota defence more to worry about than the equivalent of a fatally wounded beast slumping slowly across the Savannah in a futile attempt to find the final resting ground it’s DNA told it was out there somewhere.
But, all things a considered, we would have been ecstatic with even a mildly entertaining road game in recent years and this was not only more than mildly entertaining it was an example of a team who knew what they were doing and actually seemed to be enjoying their football.
If Dos Santos can find the balance between that and putting points on the board then that would be perfectly acceptable.
Time for the Soccer Shorts player ratings!
Crepeau-5, Gaspar-5, Gutiérrez -5.5, Veselinovic, 5.5, Rose-5.5, Bikel-6*, Alexandre-5.5, Dajome-5.5, Caicedo-5.5, Teibert-5.5, Cavallini-4