If the Whitecaps have designs on banking a few points at home before heading out on a six-week road trip, it may be wise for them to reengineer their method of doing so. Mind you, for much of the season to date they have been incapable or unwilling to evolve their tactics when the occasion demands it, however now may be a better time than ever to get creative.
In a game that should have been interesting if not intense, the Sounders were far and away the better team in front of the fans at BC Place for the vast majority of the 90+ minutes. The loss comes on the heels of a disappointing draw against Edmonton in Canadian Championship play on Wednesday and did little to alleviate the mounting pressure to perform at home.
Maybe that upcoming lengthy road trip isn’t such a terrible thing after all.
After the Sounders took an early lead, the Whitecaps put in an admirable effort to equalize… for about 20 minutes. They managed to control play for stretches yet lacked the poise to convert. And once Sounders’ striker Chad Barrett, inserted into the lineup for an injured Obafemi Martins, scored his second goal of the half, the Whitecaps were seemingly content to stare longingly at the soon-to-be replaced BC Place turf.
To me that was the most disappointing aspect of Saturday’s game. This is a team that, by and large, has been a resilient group so far this season. Four of the Caps six victories to date have come from goals scored in the latter stages of the game, if not in stoppage time. But to see this group of players come the 50th minute against the Sounders, one would have been hard pressed to believe this was a team at the top of the standings and coming off a 3-0 victory in MLS regular season play.
Heads were down, shoulders were slumped and heels were dragged. Quite honestly they had the look of longstanding Subway employees, resigned to the fact that their lives have culminated in squirting lukewarm mayonnaise-type dressing on slack-jawed teenagers’ sandwiches. And it’s one thing when a young player becomes disgruntled from lack of success, it’s quite another when the leaders of your team are the ones bearing a sullen disposition.
Captain Pedro Morales was perhaps the guiltiest perpetrator of the “woe is me” attitude in a game that cried out for a leader to step forward. The Whitecaps were in desperate need of some creativity moving forward and could well have used some of that from the talented Chilean. Instead, he seemed content to ride the loss out as the Sounders played keep away for the final 60 minutes of play, and others, shamefully, joined him.
The character of the team was best encapsulated in the 89th minute when left back Jordan Harvey impressively ventured down the left wing and played the ball into the Sounders’ box. There, we saw three men clad in white jerseys sort of converge on the ball, while one man in a black jersey beat them to it and punted it away from danger. Harvey was rightfully livid at his teammates’ lack of intensity and didn’t shy away from vocalizing his displeasure. One would assume Carl Robinson followed suit in the room postgame.
Heading into tonight’s final leg of the Canadian Championship versus the Edmonton Eddies, the Whitecaps have an opportunity to earn back some lost confidence. With two consecutive sub-par performances at home, a convincing win in Edmonton would advance the club into the finals for the Voyageurs Cup and inject some positivity into the team. And should Robinson field a more veteran squad as is expected, that responsibility is placed squarely where it should be.