Two sides to the Whitecaps LA story

So the Vancouver Whitecaps beat the LA Galaxy 1-0 in Carson City on Wednesday evening, a great three points to be sure.

But but before we look at all the good that entails let’s first of all wallow in a little negativity.

Sure, a road win in MLS is a good thing but this LA team are really bad right now and the if the Whitecaps had shown any kind of cutting edge at all they would have won the game by two or three goals at least.

But time and time again either the final ball was wayward or the final run was askew leaving Vancouver reliant on a set-piece goal and the insubstantial nature of the LA attack.

No team hoping to go deep into the post-season can afford to spurn chances in the way the Whitecaps did.

Okay, now we’ve got that out of the way let’s focus on the positive.

MLS is a weird League and it’s almost certainly foolish to make any kind of definitive predictions but this felt like a decisive moment in the season for Carl Robinson and his players.

Suddenly they are up to fourth place in the Western Conference standings, with games in hand on almost all of their rivals, and the roster is no longer being thinned by injuries.

That meant that DP Brek Shea didn’t start and although Tony Tchani still seems to be half a second too slow on the ball his presence is clearly providing value as a defensive shield in the middle of the park and it was his header from a Bolaños free-kick that did for the Galaxy in the end.

Elsewhere both Mezquida and Montero toiled without much joy up front but Andrew Jacobson had his best game as a fill in central defender and Jake Nerwisnki once again did enough to keep Sheanon Williams kicking his heels on the bench.

Shout out too to David Ousted who has been unreliable at times this season but produced one very good and one genuinely great save to earn himself a well deserved clean sheet.

Next time out for the Whitecaps it’s a depleted Portland Timbers (Gold Cup, red cards) at BC Place on Sunday afternoon and they currently sit level on points with their Cascadian rials with three games in hand.

A win in that game would be a huge blow for the Timbers and an even huger fillip for the Whitecaps and there’s now the possibility (Just the possibility) that Vancouver can soon stop worrying about whether they will actually get into the playoff picture and start being far more concerned with where they fit into that final scenario.

It could all still go horribly wrong of course but, for the first time this season, the Whitecaps can look forward to the rest of the year with expectation rather than hope.

Time for the Soccer Shorts player ratings.

Ousted-7, Nerwinski-6.5, Parker-6.5, Jacobson-6.5-Harvey-6.5, Laba-6, Tchani-6, Bolaños-7*, Techera-6.5, Mezquida-6, Montero-6 


Tiny steps for the Vancouver Whitecaps

Only time will tell if the Whitecaps 0-0 tie with the LA Galaxy was a good road point gained or two valuable playoff points dropped but, for the first time in a long time, at least Vancouver looed like a coherent football team during an away fixture.

Carl Robinson stuck with the 4-4-2 that was so successful against Kansas in the week and the forward duo of Giles Barnes and Erik Hurtado provided a mixture of pace and strength to constantly keep the Galaxy backline on alert.

It’s tempting to wonder how much better  the season wold have been if Robinson had switched to the setup earlier in the year but we are where we are and where we are is a team that still has an outside chance of making the playoffs.

Laba and Teibert mostly shut down LA in the centre of the field and Fraser Aird offered pace on the break in the absence of the suspended Christian Bolaños.

We still have to come back to the presence of Pedro Morales however.

The captain was once again asked to play in the wide left role and, once again, offered little of value in terms of attacking threat and the “suddenly back in goal scoring form” Cristian Techera would almost certainly have been a better option from the start.

At least the Whitecaps looked defensively sound again though (two clean sheets in a row!) with Kendall Waston looking much more like his own self from last season.

Before we get carried away it’s worth remembering that this is an LA team on a poor run of form and missing Robbie Keane up front and who also lost Steven Gerrard  early in the first half.

But the Whitecaps have managed to lose to worse teams than that already this year so any sign of progress is welcome.

Next time out Vancouver face the New York Red Bulls at BC Place and will be without key players thanks to international call ups (Yes it makes no sense that they are playing that game during an international break but we are where we are and where we are is MLS).

That game against the Red Bulls is another one of those “must wins” that the Whitecaps have faced more with hope than expectation of late but at least the foundation of how the team should line up finally seems to be in place.

Maybe that’s a case of too little too late or maybe it’s simply a case of peaking at the perfect moment? (Spoiler alert! It’s the former, but at least we can still dream).

Time for the Soccer Shorts player ratings.

Ousted-6, Smith-6, Edgar-6, waston-7*, de Jong-6, Laba-6, Teibert-6, Morales-5, Aird-5-Hurtado-6, Barnes-6