As Vanni Sartini completed his personal lap of honour around BC Place following the 1-0 win over FC Dallas, smiling with delight and climbing over barriers to fist bump fans, it was tempting to wonder if any MLS era Whitecaps coach had quite enjoyed the job so much.
Maybe the transient nature of the role has convinced Sartini to embrace the moment? Live in the now.
He’s certainly embracing the opportunity to make tactical decisions that others wouldn’t.
Faced with having only one genuine central defender available for selection Sartini stuck with naming three. Andy Rose is always an adventure in that role, but Jake Nerwinski playing there was a new twist.
And all credit to Nerwinski.
There were times earlier in the season when he looked to have fallen below the level required for even a backup MLS player, but in recent weeks he’s been asked to play in a variety of positions and acquitted himself admirably in each one.
Props too to Leonard Owusu who produced the kind of dominating midfield performance that his pre-season promised he was capable of.
And who knew Brian White would turn out to be such a useful signing? Probably a lot of people but whatever. The American continues to do enough to justify his starting role and it was only a surprise to see Lucas Cavallini substituted ahead of him because the Whitecaps have a history of of treating their major signings with velvet lined kid gloves.
It wasn’t all good news though.
Vancouver faded around the sixty minute mark and Sartini’s changes did nothing to move the momentum of the game.
If anything they made it worse. And Patrick Metcalfe will surely be hoping that he’s not asked to play as a left wing back again for quite some time.
He never looked comfortable from minute one and it was his unnecessary challenge that led to the last minute penalty that Max Crepeau saved with some ease.
Three points were essential in keeping the playoff hopes alive and, realistically, that’s what the aim for the remainder of the season is.
Not getting into the playoffs, but keeping the hope of getting into the playoffs alive for long enough to make the return of supporters to BC Place an engaging affair.
Oh and also making the games fun to watch.
In that regard Sartini is proving to be right one.
Time for the Soccer Shorts player ratings.
Crepeau-6, Gaspar-5, Dajome-5.5, Rose-5, Veselinovic-6, Nerwinski-5.5, Teibert-6, Owusu-6.5*, Gauld-6, Cavallini-5, White-5.5 (Brown-4.5, Caicedo-4.5)