Vancouver Whitecaps offer an all too familiar echo

From yesterday but now with additional frustration.

It wasn’t really a surprise that the Whitecaps conceded five goals in LA on Saturday evening.

They have started enough games already this season where their heads don’t even vaguely enter the game until they fall behind but, this time around, they couldn’t even manage that.

It probably should be a surprise that a group of professional athletes haven’t been shamed into playing for a full ninety minutes by this stage of the campaign, but they most likely have begun to believe their own mythology concerning stirring come backs and unlikely victories.

From the outside it’s difficult to say just what is causing the team to so consistently fail to perform from the first whistle but it certainly “feels” like a locker room culture issue. With nobody, neither coaches nor players, able to instill a sense of responsibility into the starting eleven until it’s forced on them by events.

Obviously we got the usual post-game cliches abut “learning from this” but safe to say that isn’t going to happen for more than or two games at best.

The problem with mythology however is that isn’t true.

Women don’t turn into swans, there are no half-men, half-bulls hiding in dark mazes and football teams that don’t learn from mistakes won’t get away with it for time eternal.

It should probably also be a surprise that Vanni Sartini continues to treat every game as a chance to experiment with his lineup rather than consolidate a first choice starting eleven.

The coach still seems more enamoured with making “interesting” tactical choices than he is letting his players get to know each other for the most crucial part of the season and, sooner or later, Sartini will discover that consistently winning games (or just consistently getting his team to play competent football) is more important than winning hearts and minds.

On top of these “interesting” choices there also seems to be a mismatch between how some players are treated when it comes to selection and how others are treated. Some have a short leash and some have the fabled “Leash of Infinity”. As a supporter it’s consistently frustrating to watch Russell Teibert give mediocre performance after mediocre performance with no consequence for his starting spot. But how much more frustrating must that be for players wanting to get a fair chance to prove themselves? It’s not just Teibert who gets the favoured treatment, but when the captain isn’t held to as high a standard as some others well, there’s a a recipe for the seeds of a culture of selective disinterest right there.

The good news is that most of the other results of the evening went well for the Whitecaps, but that will all add up to nothing if they don’t even have the professional pride to play to their best at all times.

The nightmare scenario is probably that the Whitecaps sneak into the playoffs and crash out at the first hurdle again. A yearning for just enough to success to not rock the boat has been the drug of choice for the Whitecaps for years. Giving them a shot of just such a thing might do them more harm than good in the long run.

Time for the Soccer Shorts player ratings!

Cropper-0, Gressel-1, Raposo-4*, Brown-3, Veselinovic-2, Nerwinski-0, Teibert-1, Cubas-4, Vite-2, Gauld-3, Ongaro-1 (Ricketts-4, Dajome-2, Blackmon-3)

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