Vancouver Whitecaps: Feel the Love Go

The CEO of a sports team shouldn’t be an important figure.

Correction.

The CEO of a sports team shouldn’t be a publicly important figure. Their role should be to keep the operation ticking over quietly and not have their every action or interaction clanging an alarm that awakens all.

When a CEO does become a public figure it’s usually a sign that something somewhere has gone awry in the way things should be.

Which brings us neatly to the the Vancouver Whitecaps announcing that their CEO Mark Pannes had been fired from his role last week.

The mere fact that this news hit harder than the run of the mill Front Office shenanigans is indicative of the fact that Pannes had been a breath of fresh air pumped in to a Whitecaps culture that had long been a stale and noxious fug.

He interacted with supporters, he initiated schemes that were both beneficial to the community and to the club and he allowed everybody the breathing room to just be a fan of the team and stop worrying about what the Whitecaps would manage to mess up next.

So, given all that, it’s probably not surprising that the reaction on social media was vehemently opposed to the move. And I’m using the phrase “vehemently opposed” here in the sense of “frothing at the mouth angry”.

The Whitecaps had finally overstepped the mark and retribution and/or remorse were demanded.

And yet.

When the histories of our age come to be written there surely has to be at least one tome entitled “Twitter Was Not Real Life: A Study of how Trending Topics Failed to Predict the Glorious Rise of Our Esteemed World Leader Barron Trump“.

Because if we have have learned just one thing over recent years, it is surely that the echo chamber of a bubble set in the void of irrelevance that is all our lives on social media doesn’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. It’s just that our incoherent noise is reflected back as some semblance of coherent signal and we feel less alone.

And, much like an episode of The Murdoch Mysteries, Twitter has both good and bad actors, with Whitecaps Twitter being no exception to that rule.

It sometimes feels as though many of us should invest in a Victorian fainting couch so dramatically do we react to any instance in which the Whitecaps fall below our Platonic ideal of how the club should be run.

The anger is always bubbling and is always dialed up to eleven making it nigh on impossible to distinguish the petty squabble from the insurgency (But special mention to the people who thought a Whitecaps tweet celebrating Juneteenth was still fair game to attack the Pannes decision) and there are those who seem to have cancelled more season tickets than a Network TV executive has cancelled intelligent and darkly witty Sci-Fi seasons.

But real change comes in the streets not the tweets or, in the case of the Whitecaps, the seats not the tweets and, while it’s hard to be certain if this is really a Franz Ferdinand moment for the club or not, it doesn’t feel like it. It feels more like a phony war brought on by a mixture of incompetence, boredom and anger in need of an outlet.

But what the Whitecaps should be worried about it is the apathy that could set in from the larger fan base given the lack of soccer for the last few months and perhaps their continued enforced physical absence for over a year.

Will it be a case of that absence making the heart grow fonder or will it be a case of out of sight being out of mind?

Sooner or later the club will need to actively engage with all their fans in an effort to get them back on board.

And do you know who would have been great at that? Who would have really understood what needed to be done and how to do it in a way that made ticket holders feel valued and appreciated?

You can take that as a rhetorical question.

We don’t know the ins and outs of exactly why Pannes was fired, but we can at least file it into one of two categories.

It was either a rational business decision the reasons for which the people who made it are incapable of articulating, or it was an irrational business decision that can’t be articulated.

Viel Glück Axel!

Time Added On

Toward the end of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey the astronaut “Dave” experiences Time as a series of jump cuts. Scenes flashing by devoid of any kind of narrative structure. He is eating a meal, he is watching a glass of wine fall to the ground, he is laying on his bed.

Life in the lock-down can be a little like that.

We move from place to place wondering less about where we are and more about when we are. “Was it yesterday I went to the supermarket or last Friday?” “Why have I lost track of regular meal times?”

And that’s a reminder that Time only seems linear because we try to make it so.

Like fishing vessels adrift on an endless ocean we throw out marker buoys to create the illusion of progress.

The religions of the world have tried to solve the problem of understanding Time by adding circularity to the linear. With their Passovers and Easters and Ramadans and May the Fourth’s and so on and so on ad infinitum.

But those of us who only experience these events as secular points of vague interest are  forced to turn to the only true religion of the modern era.

Sport.

For every sport there is a season and each new season is a reassuring marker buoy to be noted and logged.

But, now that even sport is gone, what is there to give us anchor?

We can no longer make sense of Time because Time doesn’t make sense. Or rather, our senses can’t make sense of Time without the filter of all the “static” events we have carefully manufactured.

Our reality is only comprehensible when viewed through the filter of our illusions.

Gradually though we are creeping back toward the normal, or the “new normal” at least, and we will once again find ourselves secure in the footholds of schedules and tables and team sheets.

We will once again live through Time and not in it.

The last few weeks will no doubt change the way we think about many things. But will it also change the way we think about the way we think about many things?

Oh Whitecaps, Where Art Thou?

A Max Crepeau reflexive save
Not standing for the the accursed wave
A penalty shout, an offside call
I miss them all, I miss them all

A referee in need of glasses
Russell Teibert’s backward passes
A careless gap in a defensive wall
I miss them all, I miss them all

The wins the ties, the brutal losses
Jake Nerwinski’s hopeful crosses
A forward who can’t help but fall
I miss them all, I miss them all

A journeyman with two left feet,
A well timed and sarcastic tweet
A melee that becomes a brawl
I miss them all, I miss them all

Yordy Reyna’s legs like pistons
I much prefer to social distance
The line for beer that seems to crawl
I miss them all, I miss them all

Though quarantine may lead to purity
I yearn for the touch of BC Place Security
A cold and broken washroom stall
I miss them all, I miss them all

An In-Beom Hwang goal celebration
Appeals much more than isolation
A decision that’s too close to call
I miss them all, I miss them all

The supporter’s flags as they’re unfurling
A game delayed because of curling
These things held me in their thrall
And I miss them all, I miss them all

I’m sick of Crave, I’m sick of Netflix
I want corners and I want free-kicks
I can watch no more of Better Call Saul
So I miss them all, I miss them all

An Ali Adnan shot that’s blasted
The joyful shout of “You fat bastard”
A misplaced pass, a nice through ball
I miss them all, I miss them all

When they return I’l be more forgiving
For what’s a life without the living?
And what’s a foot without the ball?
I miss them all, I miss them all

Vancouver Whitecaps survive the Rapids

Well at least it was three points.

But there can’t have been many of the sell out twenty-eight thousand crowd who left The Lenarduzzi Waterfront Stadium feeling a sense that all was now well with their team.

Because Saturday’s 2-1 win over the Colorado Rapids was another one of those home performances by the Whitecaps. A tepid opening, the occasional burst of energy and then a sense of hanging on to a lead rather than protecting it.

There was a crushing inevitability about how the visitors opened the scoring in the sixteenth minute as Nicolas Mezquida crossed for Kei Kamara to head home.

But at least the move to 4-3-3, with Janio Bikel protecting the back four, gave Vancouver a semblance of cohesion. But neither Teibert nor In-Beom seemed able (or willing) to use that presence as an excuse to get forward with more regularity.

That reticence is understandable in Teibert,  a player who has never seen a halfway line he wants to cross, but In-Beom’s reluctance is less comprehensible.

After the game Marc Dos Santos said that getting the midfield to support the front three was something they had been working on in training all week, but we can clearly designate that work as “in progress” rather than “complete”.

Somehow the Whitecaps got to the break level when Andy Rose headed home In-Beom’s corner and, although they didn’t exactly come out all guns blazing in the second half, there was at least more intent to the Whitecaps’ play with the main positives being the wide men.

The trickiness of Milinkovic and the pace of Dajome consistently caused Colorado problems and it was Dajome’s drive into the box that won the penalty kick that Ali Adnan panenkad home.

Truth be told it was a somewhat soft decision in favour of the Whitecaps, and one that may have been overturned had FIFA not eradicated the scourge of VAR from the game two seasons ago.

But, as the Colorado coach Robin Fraser pointed out in his presser, “I’d rather lose to a dubious decision than win via the decisions of an admin guy with a laptop.”

The final fifteen minutes were mostly Max Crepeau throwing himself around the goal like a cat chasing a laser pen, but somehow Vancouver held on and now have a perfectly respectable six points from their first three games.

There is still much work do be done however, not least in figuring out how to give Lucas Cavallini some much needed confidence. Everything the striker touched in this game turned into a miss hit pass or an ill advised shot and the Whitecaps looked far better when Ricketts replaced him in the seventieth minute.

Next week the team fly to New York for the inaugural game at NYCFC’s new seventy-thousand seat Planned Parenthood Arena, with beleaguered US President Oprah Winfrey scheduled to be in attendance.

If I hadn’t already used my allotted flight for the year that is a game I would have loved to have gone to (It’s great we’ve reversed climate change and all, but hasn’t the whole thing gone too far now?)

“Would you have gone to New York with me?” I asked my wife Meghan as we were leaving The Lenarduzzi Waterfront Stadium, but she just muttered something about wishing she’d taken that phone call from Harry when she had the chance.

I had no idea what she was talking about, but she was probably in a bad mood because she was just about to start her night shift as a security guard at Costco.

Time for the Soccer Shorts player ratings.

Crepeau-7*, Nerwinski-5, Adnan-5, Khmiri-5, Rose-5, Bikel-6, Teibert-4, In-Beom-4, Milinkovic-6, Dajome-6, Cavallini-3

 

 

Vancouver Whitecaps show the quality we were looking for

Well that was better.

After the home opener debacle of last week the Vancouver Whitecaps put in a perfectly competent performance to defeat a particularly poor LA Galaxy side on Saturday evening.

This time around the Whitecaps played as though they had a game plan.  They didn’t allow themselves to be dominated in midfield and didn’t allow each individual section of the team to become isolated from the others.

There was much talk before the game about the introduction of Andy Rose to provide experience and calm to both the back line and the side as a whole.

It’s hard to quantify just how calming that influence was, but it may be worth the BC Government keeping Rose on call so that he can helicopter in to any of the various Costco locations where people seem to be under the impression that toilet paper is the key to survival.

“Hello everyone, I’m Andy Rose and I’m here to tell you that five rolls of toilet paper per day is enough for even the most highly strung of families.”

Elsewhere, Janio Bikel made the kind of debut at right back that makes one think he will be a regular starter sooner rather than later and Ryan Raposo made the the kind of substitute appearance that makes one think that if it wasn’t enough to make him a regular starter, it was enough to make him one of the first options from the bench in future games.

Not that there weren’t still issues.

The Whitecaps can’t keep relying on Ali Adnan to be their main provider and In-Beom once again displayed a remarkable ability to make the wrong decision whenever he did get in to any kind of dangerous position.

Perhaps is is time for him to adopt the “Costanza Strategy’?  If every instinct he has is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right.

Vancouver also got lucky in playing a team who have bought a star forward who is specifically known for his prowess at finishing without really seeming to have thought about how those chances will be created for him.

But, on a completely different note, it was another unremarkable outing for Lucas Cavallini. One that he topped off with a penalty miss that was only somewhat less embarrassing than Ali Adnan’s against the same opponent last season.

Have the Whitecaps scouted the Galaxy and somehow decided that kicking the ball slowly toward the goalkeeper is an effective spot kick technique? If so, they are very, very wrong.

But now is not the time to dwell on negativity. There will be ample opportunity for such wallowing in future games.

Now is the time to enjoy a performance that indicated the Whitecaps can play in the style that Marc Dos Santos wants them to, that the new arrivals and the young players can make the team better and that they may not be the pushovers they so often were last season.

The next big test is to see whether they can perform as effectively at home when the onus will be on them to make the running.

Time for the Soccer Shorts player ratings.

Crepeau-6, Bikel-6, Adnan-6, Rose-6, Khmiri-6, In-Beom-5, Teibert-5, Milinkovic-4, Dajome-5, Ricketts-6*, Cavallini-4, (Raposo-6)

 

Vancouver Whitecaps can’t change their habits

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.

Oh dear.

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

 

Are the Vancouver Whitecaps ready to fight?

The best thing on the internet this week, possibly the best thing on the internet ever, was the wildlife camera footage of a coyote and a badger using a culvert to cross a major highway.

Apparently it is common for the two species to hunt together, but reading the phrase “Badgers and coyotes sometimes work together to hunt.” is a very different experience than seeing the relationship in action.

Because this isn’t just some random coyote calling some random badger to hurry up because there are things to do. This is a particular coyote calling a particular badger to hurry up because there are things to do.

There is, for the want of a better word, an established relationship between the two and while we must always avoid anthropomorphism in circumstances such as this it’s hard not to think that these two critters can’t teach us all a valuable life lesson.

The lesson that if you find the right partner in life it doesn’t really matter how ill suited you may appear, it doesn’t really matter what the world may think about your compatibility and it doesn’t really matter if similar relationships never seem to last for any length of time.

Because what really matters is that if you do find the right partner in life then you too can spend the dark nights searching for unsuspecting prey and killing it.

And is there any sport in the world in which the coyotes and badgers of this world can coexist quite as effectively as soccer?

A physical specimen like Ronaldo can compete with an unkempt waif like Messi for the title of best player in the world.

The speed of Henry can compete with the languid Zidane for the title of best French player ever.

And a giant of a man like Kendall Waston can compare with the diminutive Cristian Techera as both being competent Major League Soccer players.

And is there any other league ion the world in which the coyotes and the badgers are so very much coyote and badger as Major League Soccer?

A world superstar up front being fed through balls by a journey man midfielder. An international defender combining with a goalkeeper who barely makes enough money to afford a Compass card, or a World Cup winning number ten looking exasperated as a winger from Panama consistently fails to make the right runs.

We won’t really know what the Whitecaps coyote/badger ratio is until the season begins but, as of now, and judging from the (admittedly brief) pre-season performances, they are a 4-3-3 team being forced to play 4-2-3-1 due to the weaknesses in midfield.

If that isn’t remedied then we will probably be left with In-Beom playing too deep as one of the defensive two and a series of players who qualify as a “Yes, but he can actually play as a number ten.” selection.

There’s still time for that deficiency to be remedied, but not as much time as there used to be.

That’s just basic science.

Vancouver Whitecaps: No Easy Way Up

“Turn off your mind relax and float down stream
It is not dying, it is not dying
Lay down all thoughts, surrender to the void
It is shining, it is shining”
 
 
I can’t say for certain that John Lennon’s missive on the power of hallucinogens as the most effective method of finding inner peace with regard to Ringo’s vocals was the Mission Statement by which the Vancouver Whitecaps ownership and Front Office lived up until this season, but they did accept the vagaries of life in a way that would make even Zhàozhōu Cōngshěn wonder if he wasn’t maybe getting bogged down a little too much in the mundanities of everyday life.
 
But, eventually, the time and the tide of events must swallow up even the most obstinate of empires and the last few months have been marked by changes of both personnel and tone that some historians have compared to Mikhail Gorbachev’s attempt to transform the Soviet Union via the concepts perestroika and glasnost.
 
Restructuring and openness weren’t words one associated with the previous regime, but the arrival of Axel Schuster as Sporting Director and Mark Pannes as Chief Executive Officer gave physical embodiment to what had previously been nothing more than empty promises and lip service.
 
So things are looking up?
 
Yes they are. And next week I will look at the squad in full detail.
 
Wait? What? That can’t be the end.
 
Why not?
 
Well, it wasn’t fully formed and left me feeling a vague sense of promise unfulfilled.
 
Maybe I was foreshadowing the Whitecaps season?
 
Ooh that’s clever!
 
Thank you.
 
But go on. It’s Sunday morning, there’s nothing else to do. Give me some detail!
 
Well, no doubt there have been changes in the way the ownership and the Front Office are run. Huge changes, the kind of changes that many have been wishing and hoping for for the longest time.
 
But they have only just happened and you don’t change the culture of a club overnight and, even if you do, those changes don’t seep down into the roots for a long, long time.
 
So we’re still just looking at surface changes that are essentially a version of a Chris Rock routine.
 
“You’re supposed to have a scouting network! You’re supposed to interact with the supporters! You don’t get credit for this!”
 
Which leaves us with the coach and the team on the field.
 
The signings certainly seem more ambitious and coherent this time around. As though it hasn’t just been left to the coach to do all the legwork and, more importantly, the core of the team is in place in time for the preseason to allow Marc Dos Santos time to mould them into the shape he wants.
 
We can still look at the midfield with a vague sense of terror, but hopefully there will be additions there too before long.
 
The summation of all this is that the Whitecaps have given themselves a chance to succeed and that if they fail this time around they will have failed for the right reasons rather than the wrong.
 
That’s more than we had before.

Copa Del Rey

The year is almost over (I assume you know this already but one must never underestimate the ignorance of one’s readers) and, an inevitable consequence of year end, are those interminable “Best of” lists outlining the “Top 100 YouTube Commercials of 2019” or “The 20 Tweets That Defined The Decade” or some such zeitgeist defining cultural landmarks.

Back in the day, when it came to the “Albums of the Year” lists I would probably own half of them and have a very definite opinion (Unfavourable) on the rest of them. But these days I haven’t even heard the latest from Lil Gel Boy & MC Louis XIV and so feel mostly unqualified to pronounce on this particular list in any meaningful manner.

Except this year one album kept cropping up at the top of said lists. “Norman Fucking Rockwell” by Lana Del Rey.

“Don’t want to listen to that.” I sullenly said to myself, assuming we were dealing with unbearably pretentious angst at best, or unbearably derivative dirges at worst.

But, eventually, I did give it a listen and Jesus fucking Christ “Norman Fucking Rockwell” is a great album.

It certainly could have veered toward pretentious angst and it certainly could have turned into a series of dirges.

But instead NFR avoids the pitfalls and exists in a world of an older, better America. An America where cars and boys were the only things a girl needed and where music held the answer to pretty much every meaningful question.

In many ways the whole album is music about music. Songs about songs. A Beach Boys reference here, an Eagles reference there, a Joni Mitchell hat tip everywhere. A 2019 woman yearning for the simpler times that used to be.

Except Lana Del Rey is too smart for that.

“Give me Hallmark
One dream, one life, one lover
Paint me happy and blue
Norman Rockwell”

She knows those old songs weren’t celebrating real life, but instead offering greeting cards versions of what might be or have been.

“Norman Fucking Rockwell” isn’t an album that yearns for something that is just out of reach but attainable, it’s an album that mourns the loss of what never was.

A lifestyle, a culture, a country that only ever existed within the contact of needle on vinyl.

It’s great songwriting and, in particular, it’s great American songwriting.

And maybe all great American songwriting, maybe all great American art, can only ever live in that purgatory between the America that is and the America that is not?

The Vancouver Whitecaps aren’t specifically mentioned in the album but I do wonder if Lana Del Rey was contemplating the 2019 season when she wrote some of these songs.

For the whole season was marked by a longing for something else.

The ideal idea of a team, a club, that could never exist but offered itself as stark contrast to the forest fire of a season we lived through.

That conflagration combined with the knowledge that such an ideal will never be attained has turned some against the club (possibly forever). But what do those of us who will be back in 2020 want from the year?

Well, setting aside the blatantly obvious and necessary signings, we want an actual on field plan.

You know?

Coach the team toward a system and style of play during the preseason and stick with that for more than one or two games before deciding to revert to a “this might work” philosophy for the rest of the campaign.

Treating every game seriously might help too. Every year the Whitecaps adopt the attitude that the early season games don’t count as much as the late season games and everybody shrugs off a dour 0-0 tie with a visiting east coast team as not really that important.

All the games matter! Three points is three points is three points.

Off the field the club just has to be so much better at pretty much everything. Paying lip service to being better doesn’t count.

Oh well, 2019 is a year everybody around the Whitecaps will be happy to move on from and 2020 still doesn’t exist so we can be optimistic about it until it walks through the door and throws ice cold water into our face.

To paraphrase Lana Del Rey “Hope is a dangerous thing for a Whitecaps fan to have.”

Vancouver Whitecaps out punch the Galaxy

In many ways the LA Galaxy are the Platonic deal of what an MLS team shouldn’t be.

No recognizable tactical plan. No sense of how to defend in anything approaching an organized manner. But shed loads of money thrown at big name forwards who are able to do just enough to force the team into the playoffs and so give them a puncher’s chance of winning the whole caboodle.

But wait.

Because in many ways it’s the Vancouver Whitecaps who are really the Platonic ideal of what an MLS shouldn’t be.

A tactical plan that doesn’t take into account the strengths of the players available.  No sense of how to set up a midfield in anything approaching an organized manner. And no money thrown around to sign big name forwards who are able to do just enough to force the team into the playoffs and so give them a puncher’s chance of winning the whole caboodle.

And the two competing philosophies met in a surprisingly entertaining game in LA on Sunday evening with, somewhat improbably, the Whitecaps beating the Galaxy 4-3 in a contest of who could score the most in a ludicrously open game.

That’s probably being a little harsh on Vancouver in this particular instance because they did at least look as though they had a game plan, which was to negate Ibrahimovic and to always look to hit the Galaxy on the break as quickly as possible.

And it worked (just).

Possibly because for the first time in a long time the Whitecaps were playing a team with a midfield as poor as their own, with both Rose and Teibert finding themselves in the kinds of open spaces they haven’t enjoyed all season.

Jasser Khmiri finally made his debut in the centre of defence and had a decent game (although one of the weirder tropes of this season is that most defenders can often be said to have “had a decent game”, while the team concede goals with astonishing regularity. Individual competence doesn’t equate to collective cohesion I suppose).

And Erik Godoy offered another example of why he should return next season as he filled in at right back and already has one more assist in 2019 than Nerwinski and Sutter combined.

Goals for Chirinos and Ricketts surely won’t tip the balance when the decision comes to stick or twist on them in the off season, but anything that makes any of us feel a little bit better about this team is very welcome indeed.

Time for the Soccer Shorts player ratings.

Crepeau-5, Godoy-5.5, Henry-5, Khmiri-5.5, Levis-4.5, Rose-5.5, Teibert-5.5, In-Beom-6*, Bair-5, Chirinos-5, Ricketts- 4.5 (PC-5, Montero-5).