Vancouver Whitecaps get a Rocky Mountain High/Low

The thing about going to see a tribute act is that the experience can go one of two ways.

Either you end up standing on a beer stained vinyl floor watching five aging and hairy men desperately trying to recreate the magic of Rollermania while thinking to yourself things like “Where did my life take such a wrong turning?”, “I really hope these stains on the floor are just beer” and “Isn’t this actually the original Bay City Rollers?”

Or the experience can offer at least a glimpse of transcendence.

One more chance to recreate the thrill of a youth long gone with a Proustian rush of bass guitar and drum, or the opportunity to be a time travel tourist and live briefly in a world of vinyl and videotape.

For the Vancouver Whitecaps Saturday evening’s 2-2 tie with the Colorado Rapids fell somewhere on the outside of even those two experiences and they must now know how Brian Eno would feel were he to walk into a bar and discover that the headline act of the night was Proxy Music.

Because the Colorado Rapids were nothing if not a tribute act to the 2016 Whitecaps (The “Vancouver Might Caps” maybe? I don’t know I’m still work shopping names).

Anyway, the Rapids were overly cautious in a home game they needed to win, scored from a set piece and a counter attack and, having taken the lead, decided to sit back and allow the opposition back into the game before hanging on for a point that no doubt their coach would describe as “Well deserved against a good team”.

It was probably too much to hope that Vancouver would recreate the magic of that 4-0 win in Dallas but it felt as though they might when Tony Tchani gave them the lead after just five minutes.

This time around though the wide men didn’t support Fredy Montero enough going forward and it was only when they were 2-1 down that the introduction of Shea and Techera really changed the focus of the game.

Shea was once again a threat down the left flank and Techera’s trademark left footed delivery from the right finally gave Montero a few scraps to feed upon and he eventually connected with one of them to level the score.

After that it all got even scrappier than it was before with both teams looking capable of scoring more through luck than judgement although by the final whistle it was the Whitecaps who looked like being the luckier of the two.

A point on the road in MLS is never a bad thing but the “what ifs” of a Kendall Waston start and better performances from Ibini and Bolaños may just keep Carl Robinson awake a little longer than usual in the coming days.

Elsewhere Sheanon Williams looked rustier than he did in Dallas and Tchani’s goal was a delightful side footed finish from outside the penalty area but the game still leaves the coach trapped in the hinterland of being content with the knowledge he has game changers on the bench and frustrated that selecting which of those game changers to start seems to be something of a lottery.

But four points from the first two road games of a three game stretch already puts the team at par and whatever happens in New England next week is now less important than how the Whitecaps deal with being back at BC Place.

Time for the Soccer Shorts player ratings.

Ousted-6, Williams-5.5, Parker-6, Jacobsoon-5.5, Harvey-6.5, Tchani-6, Laba-6, Bolaños-5.5, Ibini-5.5, Reyna-6, Montero-6, (Techera-6.5*, Shea-6.5)


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