So much time is spent on this site writing about what went wrong with a Vancouver Whitecaps performance that it feels almost ominous to detail the things that went right.
But the 1-0 win over LAFC is the perfect opportunity for a healthy dose of reluctant optimism.
The first half was “mostly fine”. The Whitecaps kept the visitors at bay without ever looking like scoring themselves, but the second half was a different story as they threw tradition out of the window and pressed to try a win a a game of football.
So what did go right in the second half?
Cavallini off- Credit to Sartini for having the nous to remove the Canadian forward before LAFC and an overly persuadable referee did the job for him. The change allowed White to play as the lone forward and give the attack a structure that was sadly missing in the first half.
White wasn’t great by any means but suddenly Gauld was playing with his teammates rather than alongside them and there just seemed more space for the rest of the team to run in to.
It’s possible that keeping Cavallini on and taking White off would have had the same impact but the White/Cavallini pairing looks to be an experiment that would fail a fairly basic peer review test.
Vite on- The coach has shown a latent distrust of Vite up to now, mostly reluctant to use him even when attacking guile was needed. But his introduction on Saturday added impetus to the Whitecaps already building momentum.
Always looking to play the quick forward pass it was somewhat disconcerting to see Vite and Gauld pinging passes to each other both confident that the other would control the ball and use it equally quickly.
It was a compelling case for the two playing behind a lone striker as the default tactical setup for the rest of the season.
A composed central defence- Given Godoy’s inability to play regular games it’s possible that the back three of Brown, Veselinovic and Blackmon is the best option right now.
Blackmon can be sloppy with his passing but at least is trying to make the right passes. Veselinovic has become a reliable regular and Brown has been a revelation in the centre of defence.
The erstwhile wing back has become a defensive rock and if he and Blackmon can utilize their abilities to get forward more they could add another string the the Whitecap’s attacking bow.
Andre Cubas- All of the above were hugely helped by the play of Cubas who makes it easier for everybody.
Those playing behind him are no longer faced with opposition players running freely at them while the midfield two scurry frantically in chase. Those in front of him are helped by his always opting for the forward pass if it’s on (and having the ability to play said pass).
It was fitting that his goal arrived thanks to him intercepting yet another opposition pass.
All in all it was a hugely positive night.
Now they just need to bring the same energy to a Friday night game against Minnesota.
Time for the Soccer Shorts player ratings!
Cropper-6, Godinho-6, Raposo-5.5, Brown-6.5, Veselinovic-6, Blackmon-5.5, Teibert-6, Cubas-7*, Gauld-6.5, Cavallini-5, White-5 (Vite-6)