Whitecaps in just another Winter’s Fail

From last night but with additional exasperations.

The first half was great.

The Whitecaps led Real Salt Lake through a Javain Brown header, passed and moved with purpose and kept the visitors at arms length throughout.

The midfield looked solid (the midfield!) and the team as a whole were playing with purpose and pace.

By the second half though Schopf drifted it of the game and Gressel looked worryingly leggy.

So I guess the tactical decision they faced at half time was to either continue playing well or to play not so well.

Sadly they chose the latter option and the inevitable Salt Lake equalizer and equally inevitable winner followed in swift succession leaving the Whitecaps to huff and puff their way to a late rally that never once looked like it would lead to a goal.

In his post game comments Sartini put this change of fortunes down to the vagaries of MLS. But RSL adapted at half time and Vancouver failed to deal with that switch.

This failure of a second-half wouldn’t be quite so worrying if it wasn’t indicative of one of their major failings from last season too.

Last year whenever they were faced with the opportunity to kill a game off they consistently backed away from the challenge, preferring instead to drop deeper and deeper and allow all the momentum to slip through their fingers.

And this performance against Salt Lake was particularly shameful.

In front of a very good home crowd, who had braved multiple weather warnings to get to the game, the players decided that making an effort for half the game was quite enough thank you very much.

There were times last night when the Whitecaps had three coaches up and shouting instructions at the players. But it seemed there was nobody who could calmly assess what was going wrong and figure out how to fix that.

If those on the pitch don’t have the mental fortitude to play as they should for ninety minutes and if the coaching staff don’t have the courage or insight to know that changes are needed until it’s far too late then we all face yet another season of this team bobbing around the edge of the play-offs, celebrating pyrrhic victories and always finding a reason to forgive themselves for all their shortcomings.

A nice easy ride for the players, a not so easy ride for the rest of us.

Time for the Soccer Shorts player ratings!

Takaoka-6, Brown-6, Martins-4, Veselinovic-4.5, Blackmon-4.5, Cubas-6*, Schopf-4.5, Gressel-4, Dajome-3, Gauld-4.5, White-4.5

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