Well that was better.
The 1-0 won over Sporting Kansas City wasn’t perfect by any means but at least the Whitecaps looked as though they had practiced playing football together over the previous few days. Nobody was outstanding but, more importantly, nobody was terrible.
At first look the decision to pair Nerwinski and Raposo on the left seemed to be another case of Sartini being quirky for the sake of being quirky (and eventually every Vancouver coach is sacrificed on the altar of “looked good in training”) but it worked out fine.
That was helped somewhat by Kansas being surprisingly poor and the return of Brian White helping the side to keep their shape and for most of the game it was simply being unable to find the right final ball that prevented the home side finding the net.
Ironically that right final ball arrived with the departure of White and Gauld as Baldisimo jinked a chip shot over the Kansas defence for Raposo and Cavallini to fight over before Raposo stabbed home.
Cavallini certainly seems more engaged (or just fitter?) this season, but he still operates in his own private universe that tends to drag his teammates into places they don’t want to be.
Elsewhere, nobody needed a decent game more than Javain Brown and that’s what he had. He was never really troubled defensively and offered a threat going forward.
And Sebastian Berhalter seems to be an upgraded version of Russell Teibert; defensively minded but with more recognition of what’s happening ahead of him.
It still feels as though the coach is struggling to settle on the exact formation he wants his team to play and that he’s struggling to fit a few disparate pieces into a functioning whole, but this game was a foundation for acceptable competence.
Defend well and get the ball forward quickly.
Time for the Soccer Shorts player ratings.
Hasal-5, Brown-6, Blackmon-6, Veselinovic-6*, Nerwinski-6, Raposo-6, Teibert-5.5, Blackmon-6, Caicedo-5, Gauld-6, White-6 (Cavallini-6, Vite-5)