It’s not often that a substitute makes an immediate impact.
Changing the flow of the game almost the instance they step onto the pitch.
But Russell Teibert’s introduction against Minnesota United on Saturday evening changed the game from a potential goal fest for Vancouver into a potential point gained for the visitors.
Anybody who has watched Teibert over the last few years will know that his time in MLS should have ended by now. Perhaps there is some value in him as an occasional substitute when the game is well and truly over or even a starter maybe in a cup cup competition or two.
But as the guy to bring on with thirty minutes to go to lock a game down? Well, he’s not that guy.
The Whitecaps held on for a 3-2 win but it really should have been much more comfortable than that.
This is all a slightly over zealous attack on Teibert of course. He is what he is.
But Vanni Sartini’s decision to switch to a more defensive set up just as his team seemed to have achieved maximum momentum was another frustrating moment of the coach wanting to “do something” when there was nothing that needed to be done.
We’re seeing those moments less often this season but they clearly still lurk within the psyche of the coach.
Although the whole thing was almost worth it just to see Andres Cubas (always alert for moments of danger for his team) seemingly take the ball away from Teibert deep in his own half for fear of what would happen next.
And Cubas was, once again, excellent. Breaking up the opposition midfield and responsible for turnovers that led to two of the Vancouver goals.
Pedro Vite shone too. This was probably his best game of the season on the ball so far and it was definitely his best season off it. Committing to the press in a way he’s not really done thus far.
Elsewhere, Brian White finally got the goals he’s deserved and Ryan Gauld finally got the assist he has craved and while Schopf didn’t offer the variety in the midfield that Ahmed has he did at least show that he can fill a role there.
That makes it eight games unbeaten for the Whitecaps and, while there are tougher games ahead, they have shown themselves to be by far the most balanced squad of their MLS era. Defensively sound, solid in the midfield and able to create chances going forward.
If Sartini continues to make selections and decisions that play to those strengths than the the playoffs should be comfortably attained.
If he reverts to being “interesting” it might turn out to be a much closer call.
Time for the Soccer Shorts player ratings!
Takaoka-5.5, Brown-5.5, Martins-5.5, Veslinovic-5, Blackmon-5.5, Cubas-7.5*, Gressell-5.5, Schopf-5, Gauld-5, Vite-6 (Becher-6, Teibert-3)