The 1-1 tie with Portland on Sunday evening was comfortably the Whitecaps best road performance and (taken as a whole) the best overall performance of the season too.
No doubt the return of Andres Cubas helped the defence remain solid, but Ryan Gauld looked back to his best and that also helped Brian White give one of his better showings too (the benefit of White is that other players always know where he will be on the pitch and that is especially helpful to Gauld it seems).
Isaac Boehmer had another stellar night in goal with only a penalty-kick able to beat him and Veselinovoic and Nerwinski were stalwarts at the back.
Triston Blackmon though continues to veer between looking supremely comfortable on the ball and then unthinkingly playing a pass that puts the opposition in a great position. If he can figure out how to concentrate for the full ninety minutes he’ll be a much more useful a defender.
There was also some frustration that the Whitecaps sat a tad too deep as the game wore on but that’s often the nature of the game and, to their credit, they continued to look to create chances whenever the opportunity arose.
The arrival of Julian Gressel can only make them stronger and there’s now probably only two more roles that Sartini needs to figure out to make the team as good as they can be.
Who to play alongside Cubas and how to set up the front three?
One scenario would be to have Baldisimo in the former role (a very good passer of the ball alongside a very good ball winner is the dream ticket) and it should be a toss up between White and Cavallini as the lone striker playing in front of Gauld and Vite or Dajome.
My take is that White (as above) is easier to build a system around than the more maverick Cavallini, but both have shown strengths and weaknesses this season so a mix and match approach isn’t that terrible an idea.
All in all, and given the injuries they have faced this year, the Whitecaps are in a pretty good place right now.
Time for the Soccer Shorts player ratings!
Boehmer-6.5, Dajome-5, Raposo-5.5, Nerwinski-5.5, Veselinovic-6, Blackmon-4.5, Cubas-6.5, Teibert-4.5, Gauld-6.5*, Cavallini-5, White-5.5 (Baldisimo-5, Godhino-4.5)