Once again this week's edition of Two Up, Two Down comes to you after an underwhelming 0-0 draw.
When I try and sell my hockey buddies on soccer, telling them, "guys, it's not as bad as the stereotype says," these last two games are not ones I pull up on the PVR.
Luckily, this 0-0 offensive slug fest was away from home where you can accept a defensively sturdy yet boring performance. It is here where we start issuing thumbs.
THUMBS UP: Tactical football leads to road points
Maybe this is just a euphemism for "boring crappy teams defend with 11 men," but to be successful on the road you need to soak up the attack, slow the game down, and capitalize on your chances.
The Whitecaps did two of three exceptionally well on Saturday.
While the overall attacking chemistry looked better against the Union, the only real opportunities the Whitecaps had were certainly against the run of play and usually on the counter-attack. But that's all fine and dandy on the road. On another day you'd have to think that Le Toux buries one of his 2 glorious chances and the Whitecaps swipe 3 points from Philadelphia despite not owning the ball.
At the end of the day, for the 4th straight game the Whitecaps have recorded a clean sheet, and I can count on one hand the amount of real quality scoring chances conceded in those four games. You'd hope for a little more zip going forward at home, but this is the perfect way to win on the road in the MLS. Don't let your opponents get a sniff at goal and hope to pop one in on your couple chances gained off the counter.
THUMBS UP: Joe Cannon All Star quality early season form
The 'Caps have four clean sheets to start the season and Joe Cannon deserves a lot of the credit. He has had a lot of help, including 3 (count em, kids, 3) goal line headers from outfield players to save goals, in consecutive games, no less, but he's been there when he needed to be. He's also been the recipient of two straight MLS Save of the Week honours for world class saves against Chivas and DC United.
Cannon was not forced into such magnificence this week, but he was solid again and didn't concede a goal. What more can you ask for?
I liked Jay Nolly and his magic hat, but clearly keeping the old man Joe Cannon was the right choice.
THUMBS DOWN: Peter Nowak is classless. Montreal rumored to be interested in acquiring him as consultant.
The circus in Philadelphia continues to grow. After last weeks curious benching of captain Danny Califf, this week Peter Nowak avoided the high road and instead acted like a scorned teenage girl in a press conference when he sarcastically remarked that fans may have a parade and confetti for returning Sebastien Le Toux.
Le Toux just scored 25 goals in 2 season for your club. He worked his tail off in every match, and was a fan favourite. Show some class. Tell people that he was a good player for your club and that you wish him well but that you're only concentrating on the game. Next question. Was that so hard, Peter? You're a professional football manager.
Then again, at this rate, maybe not for much longer.
THUMBS DOWN: Canada lets London slip away
It was disappointing to see the 3-1 Mexico win over Canada at the Olympic Qualifier in Kansas City, but I'm not surprised. Mexico is a highly skilled, fast, and mature team full of professionals from a high quality league. The Canadians had a bunch of kids and some journeymen from decent leagues, some of whom were not even attached to a club team.
In the end, I'm proud of the players. They performed admirably, and didn't look to be as far off as once thought against USA and Mexico. They had unfortunate games against Cuba and El Salvador, but no one ever expected this Canadian team to really truly qualify for the Olympics.
I'm just disappointed. It would have been a real great story and the added exposure would have been welcome for Canadian soccer. And we had the chance. It just wasn't taken.