Vancouver Whitecaps are star-crossed in Houston

From yesterday but with additional musings.

Asterisms don’t exist.

There is no Big Dipper or Teapot or Crab collection of stars. They’re just random luminous balls of gas that human beings have assigned imaginary patterns to.

And yet these “patterns” have proved useful over the centuries, points of reference, navigational aids for the storm tossed sailor or water starved nomad.

Asterisms don’t exist but they do have a function.

The same cannot be said of the Vancouver Whitecaps midfield which, while also not existing, does not have any recognizable function.

And so it proved again in the 2-1 defeat to the Houston Dynamo on Saturday evening.

Vancouver were better when going forward and solid in defence, but the central pairing of Teibert and Owusu were neither Pisces nor fowl. Offering neither cover for the backline nor support for the forward line.

It can’t go on. Well, it can go on, but it shouldn’t.

Teibert is typically the player who attracts the ire after these performances because he’s a severely limited footballer who seems to play by pre-programmed algorithm rather than any intuitive understanding of the game.

But it’s hard to know why the Whitecaps still haven’t managed to acquire a midfielder to replace a player of such limitations and that’s a mystery worthy of it’s own QAnon style conspiracy theory. Genuinely baffling.

On another day maybe the Whitecaps would have got a point from this game? But it was all a bit if a struggle.

A good start faded into a closing twenty minutes where set-pieces were the only realistic hope of getting the equalizer that never came.

They weren’t helped by Ryan Gauld being terrible in both pass and touch and Lucas Cavallini having one of his better games and still not being the player the team need to lead the line.

Cavallini poses nothing but problems for Sartini. He’s a Designated Player on a high salary who doesn’t fit the way that Sartini wants to play. Nor does Cavallini seem capable of adapting his game in any meaningful way.

He found success yesterday by being in the centre of the goal and slotting home a cross and then proceeded to avoid that area of the pitch for as much as possible for the rest of the game.

It’s hard to know why he thinks he’s capable of dropping deep and linking up play or drifting wide and gliding past two or three defenders but he does. Genuinely baffling.

Neither have they been helped by the previous two games which they seem to have treated as a kind of pre-season warm up as they were “only” against Eastern Conference opponents.

Points are still points and I’m not sure how many times the Whitecaps need to suffer at the hands of that attitude before waking up to the reality of how numbers work.

On the positive side the back three of Blackmon, Veselinovic and Jungwirth look to be gelling and they will be even better once the wing-backs start to play as “backs” as well as “wings”.

But it’s been an inauspicious start to the season.

Not disastrous, but enough to make the optimism of the last season implode into the vast and empty nothingness of realism.

A major part of Sartini’s success last season was that he had a system of play and stuck to it regardless of the personnel available. That led to some odd selections but it did at least provide stability.

This season he has abandoned that philosophy and has been trying to find the system to suit the players available, making every game a learning curve that the players can’t climb.

It’s hard to know why he has departed from such a successful strategy but he has.

Genuinely baffling.

Time for the Soccer Shorts player ratings!

Hasal-5, Dajome-4, Gutierrez-4, Blackmon-6*, Veselinovic-5.5, Jungwirth-5, Teibert-2.5, Owusu-2.5, Gauld-2.5, Vite-5, Cavallini-4 (Brown-4)

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