There are times when “It just made no sense” is about a good of a summation as you can make about any game of football and the Whitecaps’ 4-3 win in Toronto pretty much fits that criteria admirably but, for the sake of something to write, let’s see if we can’t at least make an effort to bring some semblance of order to all of that chaos.
With his hand forced on a number of lineup changes Carl Robinson went with an unexpectedly innovative starting eleven. He paired Russell Teibert with Matias Laba in the centre of midfield and he played Bolaños and Morales as the creative wide midfielders with Hurtado and Manneh as the lightning quick forwards capable of hitting TFC on the break.
And, from an attacking point for view, the plan worked like a charm.
Manneh was involved in every goal (scoring two and setting up Morales and Bolaños for the others) and Hurtado proved himself to be a useful foil as one of the attacking two.
The only question is whether Robinson looks at this game and thinks his team as a whole were defensively unsound or whether he thinks every goal conceded was the result of a specific circumstance; a piece of Giovinco brilliance, a Bolaños error, bad marking from a corner.
It’s hard to be a critical of a team that scored four goals on the road however and the coach is in the enviable/slightly awkward position of having a number of ways of setting up his side for the next game in Portland.
Does he stick with what (just about) worked in Toronto? Or does he revert to the more traditional 4-2-3-1 once Octavio Rivero returns to the fold?
Only time will answer that question but what he did learn from this game is that Russell Teibert is capable of being an effective partner to Laba, that Pedro Morales can be just as dangerous playing as a wide midfielder as he is in the deep lying playmaker role and that Kekuta Manneh really is a confident and composed finisher on his day.
Foundations to be built upon or the ephemeral permutations of a one off game?
Probably the latter and, in truth, we learned as little about the players as Robinson did from that mixture of circus and Kyōgen but it did feel as though we were seeing the coach himself become more confident in adapting his team to fit the specific circumstances.
And that fact alone may be even more important than earning three wins in the space of just one week.
Time then for the Soccer Shorts player ratings.
Ousted-6, Aird-5, Harvey-6, Kah-6, Parker-6, Laba-7, Teibert-7*, Bolaños-6, Morales-7, Hurtado-6, Manneh-7
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