From last night but now with an additional sounding on Sartini.
It seems it only took Vanni Sartini thirty-one games to find the right formula for his Vancouver Whitecaps team.
And so they followed up a convincing 3-0 win over the Galaxy with an equally convincing win over the Seattle Sounders (although the score line didn’t really reflect how much better Vancouver were than a surprisingly disjointed Seattle side).
So what is the secret formula?
At first glance it seems to be down to moving away from a back three to a more traditional back four but, in reality, it’s more about playing players in their right positions.
Luis Martins has made a huge difference just because he’s a left footed defender playing on the left (his experience helps too of course) and Pedro Vite being allowed to get forward has resulted in two goals in two games. Both the result of crosses that Brian White failed to get to but having an extra player in the box enabled the Ecuadorian to score.
Who knew that getting players into dangerous positions could result in good things?
The departure of Andres Cubas in the first half seemed to be an ominous sign but Leo Owusu has now produced two games in a row where he’s been able to dominate (well, partly dominate) the midfield.
If Cubas is fit for the next game then a partnership with Owusu should be the preferred choice.
Shout out too to the aforementioned White who works tirelessly for the team and who may not clock up stats that show up in the analytics databases but whose effort allows the likes of Gauld and Vite room to create.
Those of us of a cynical disposition may bemoan that it has taken Sartini this long to free his team in this way, that if he had allowed Vite the leeway he’s allowed some other players and if he’d been less concerned with finding clever answers to selection problems rathe than the simple ones he’d have arrived at the right answer much sooner in the season.
But where does this leave Sartini now?
I wrote here about why they might as well keep him and then, in an amazing feat of cognitive whiplash, here about why they shouldn’t.
I still think there’s significant issues about how he’s coached the team this season and I’d argue that his post game huddle exhortations that “this is what happens when everybody gives 100% in training” point to more underlying issues than just the wrong tactics but, as somebody once said, “You should never mistake the rhythm of your Twitter feed for the pulse of the nation” and, likewise, we should never assume that those of us who follow the games closely share the opinions of those who just turn up to enjoy a game of football.
Anecdotal evidence ahoy but Sartini still seems popular with these poor misguided souls who seem to think that “enjoying things” is somehow the point of life.
Personally, I would still be looking for a replacement but, assuming there’s no more genuinely disastrous performances in the final two games, he’ll probably get the chance to give it another go next year.
But we are where we are.
There’s two games left and the Whitecaps are probably not going to make the playoffs but at least that hope is still alive and we now have two weeks until the next game.
Two weeks of staring at league tables and schedules trying to figure out just what might happen.
Time for the Soccer Shorts player ratings!
Hasal-5.5, Nerwinski-5.5, Martins-6. Veselinovic-6.5*, Blackmon-6.5, Teibert-5. Cubas-5.5, Gressel-6, Gauld-6.5, Vite-6, White-5 (Owusu-6).