The Vancouver Whitecaps played the first half of the crucial end of season game against Minnesota United in exactly the way we have come to expect the Whitecaps to play such games.
They were tentative on the ball, more concerned with going backwards than going forwards and out played and out fought.
That they went into the lead at half time thanks to alumni Michael Boxall was a minor miracle. But it didn’t feel like a turning point, it felt like a pit stop on the trip to playoff despair.
Maybe that’s because I’m old enough to remember when a Vancouver coach would look at that one nil lead and think that either a) things were going fine so why change them? or b) now is the time to hunker down and hold on to that lead for as long as we can.
That didn’t happen this time however and the Whitecaps approached the second half with vigour, movement and some genuinely nice passing moves.
Thus it was not a surprise when Brain White slotted home after one of those slick moves and it was somewhat of surprise to see Minnesota grab a goal back with less than three minutes remaining.
Fortunately those minutes were the property of Lucas Cavallini, as he first picked up the ball in midfield and ran around in a circle before earning a time wasting foul and then held the ball in the corner to kill even more precious seconds.
But the biggest shout out of the day goes to Jake Nerwinski.
Nerwinski seemed to be heading for MLS oblivion once he lost his right back role to faster and more attack minded players. But he has slotted into central defence startlingly well and could well prove to be a valuable member of the squad for seasons to come.
Whatever happens now the Whitecaps will go into the final game of the season (at home to Seattle) with at least a chance of making the post-season. Who would have thunk it?
And who would have thunk that watching the Whitecaps could be a genuinely enjoyable experience?
What a world.
Time for the Soccer Shorts player ratings!
Crepeau-5, Gaspar-5, Brown-6, Nerwinski-6.5*, Veselinovic-6, Jungwirth-5.5, Teibert-5, Owusu-5.5, Gauld-5.5, Dajome-4.5, White-5.5