If Marc Dos Santos had taken the trouble to contact me for advice before the start of the season (And, like you, I’m slightly baffled as to why that call was never made) the first thing I would have said following my 3½-4 hour PowerPoint presentation would have been to emphasize that the buzz phrase for 2020 would need to be “Buy in”.
Buy in to his tactics from the players and buy in to the project as a whole from the supporters.
After all, before the 2019 season we were promised an exciting side that would play an aggressive high press but, once the cleats hit the turf, the team turned into an incoherent mess of individuals playing in their own sweet and sour way.
So this season things had to be different.
Thus we were promised an exciting side that would play an aggressive high press but, once the cleats hit the turf, the team turned into an incoherent mess of individuals playing in their own sweet and sour way.
The 3-1 loss to Sporting Kansas City wasn’t disheartening because the performance was so poor, it was disheartening because it felt as though not one single lesson had been learned.
The Whitecaps faced their home opener with a 22,000 crowd as though the main objective was just to get through the whole experience without doing anything too ambitious.
As though the crowd and the occasion were things to be blocked out rather than built on.
The whole performance was marked by nothing less than lack of courage. Lack of courage when not on the ball as, once again, the press disintegrated when faced with the harsh reality of a game that mattered and lack of courage when on the ball.
Most of the time the man in possession was left with no out pass other than a speculative forward ball making Lucas Cavallini the most recent resident of the solitary island that only exists in the world of the Whitecaps. An island beyond heat maps, an island in which the inhabitants crane their necks as random footballs fall from the sky with unpredictable frequency.
Not that the formation or tactics helped anybody.
Playing out of the back isn’t really playing out of the back if it just consists of Russell Teibert collecting the ball from the central defender and then giving it back to him but, if we have to play that way and if In-Beom has to play so deep, then why isn’t he the one in charge of distribution?
Not that he was any good either of course. In most recent interviews In- Beom seems to have the urge to mention Europe as a future destination. We can only assume that this is in relation to vacation planning rather than as a career prospect given the way he shirked any real responsibility on Saturday.
And there was something enervating about watching Cristian Dajome plow his furrow on the right wing.
The latest in a long line of Vancouver wide players who flatter with their pace while being blissfully unaware of those around him or paying attention to the final ball.
Were there any good points?
Milinkovic did well for the goal and it was astonishing to see a full back in the opposition six yard box during open play to complete the move.
But, just as the Whitecaps relinquished the advantage to Kansas at the start of the game, then so they relinquished the advantage once they equalized.
Forever happy with trying to get by on just enough and never pushing themselves to do more.
There are still players to come in and this was only the first game of the season, but we’ve all been through this movie before.
The occasional three points on the road thanks to backs to the wall defending and an against the run of play counter-attack. A late equalizer at home that is somehow argued exhibits the character of the team and makes us all think that a turnaround is coming.
But the turnaround isn’t coming and it never will. Not if the foundation of what happens on the field is so flawed.
The Whitecaps have spent the off season making hay on the fact that their off the field operations will no longer tolerate under performance or the abdication of responsibility that have characterized the club for years.
But that culture still seems to be a long way away from the on field product.
Because the performance on Saturday reeked of a group of coaches and players who aren’t brave enough to push through to the next level.
They were out-thought, out-worked and out-played.
It was embarrassing to watch.
Time for the Soccer Shorts player ratings.
Crepeau-4, Nerwinski-5, Khmiri-2, Cornelius-3, Teibert-3, In-Beom-2, Dajome-2, Milinkovic-5*, Cavallini-4, Reyna-4