Two Up, Two Down - Week 5

Two of the main reasons the San Jose Earthquakes defeated the Whitecaps on Saturday; the vulturous finishing ability of Chris Wondolowski and the speed and sharp service by Shea Salinas. I was a shocked about the last part as you were.

For those of you who follow me on twitter, I should apologize for my foul mouth and overly dramatic bleating during and after this weeks San Jose vs Vancouver fixture. It was an interesting game, to say the least.

As the Whitecaps carried the play through the first half, I became excited with the idea of the 'Caps owning the Clean Sheet To Start A Season record. Then the Whitecaps scored. And I began drinking more because I was so happy.

Then the Whitecaps completely shut off and conceded a goal. And another. And so I drank to suppress my sorrows.

What I'm trying to say is my tweets were a wonderful combination of 50% raw emotion, 30% alcohol, and 20% logic. I'm quite sure I was one of the main offenders that encouraged this excellent article from 79 Forever about the (over?)reaction from Whitecaps supporters.

All of that being said, I'm sure I wasn't the only supporter left screaming partially coherent expletives at his television.

It's a good thing I take a day or two before writing this piece.

This 'weeks thumbs after the jump.

THUMBS UP: Resurgence of two 2011 Whitecaps

Both of the players who were spark plugs in San Jose Saturday were somewhat surprising.

Eric Hassli had a real blinder against San Jose. Although he didn't open his 2012 account, much of the Whitecaps attack went through the big Frenchman. Hassli held the ball, found space, and although his first shot wound up as a dribbler straight to Jon Busch, Hassli had a number of decent shots, one of which was well saved and another howitzer that was blocked before testing the keeper. Not to mention his lovely lay off to Sebestien Le Toux for the opening goal, Hassli appeared hungry, sharp, and in touch with his teammates. He appeared to be driving towards the form which made him a constant goal threat in the first half of the 2011 season.

The other 2011 Whitecap player with a strong game no longer plays for the blue and white, but rather for the blue and black of the Earthquakes.

Shea Salinas was all that Whitecaps supporters knew him to be, with blinding pace and excellent technical abilities down the wing. Difference being that Salinas provided consistently dangerous service both from a wide position as well as when he cut inside, something that was found lacking far too often when Salinas played in a white kit. No doubt he benefited from an overall off night by all the Whitecaps defenders, including Jordan Harvey who had a noticeably poor night.

THUMBS UP: Whitecaps jump in time machine to bring back team from preseason

Through the first 55 minutes of the match, the Whitecaps looked like the team that dominated any and all competition in the preseason. Now, it's clear that the preseason means nothing and can hardly be an accurate representation of a teams true strength, but much like those games against Houston, Montreal, and Kansas City, the Whitecaps again dominated the midfield, looked sharp in attack, creating numerous scoring chances, while never really putting pressure on their back line. John Thorrington was smart and moved the ball forward well, Gershon Koffie was his tenacious self, and Davide Chiumeinto made defenders watch his feet as he played sneaky through balls to dangerous positions. It was fantastic, and exciting, and quite beautiful to watch.

The Whitecaps, if only for two thirds of a game, showed what supporters have been dreaming for and still maintain will become the norm with a little more seasoning by the hand of Martin Rennie

THUMBS DOWN: Caps forget to hit 'STOP' and continue back in time to 2011 season form

As quick as the smile lit up on my face at a barrage of snappy attacking play by the Whitecaps, it was swiftly wiped clear at the dismay of what resembled Tommyball from last season.

An individually talented defensive unit broke down and lost focus. Rather than regaining that focus, they heaped on the miscues. It was as if they were holding their breath for so long, using up all their luck and Joe Cannon Save of the Weeks to grasp hold of a barely meaningful scoreless-streak-to-start-a-season, that they could finally exhale, and when the dam broke they couldn't hold back the wash of San Jose pressure and conceded 3 goals in succession.

It was reminiscent of so many games last season in which the Whitecaps played well, deserved better, but had lapses is focus which was the overall difference when the final whistle blew. Let's hope it was but a blip on the road map that is Martin Rennie's direction.

THUMBS DOWN: MLS Officiating still terrible

In March, the MLS and the USSF announced the new Professional Referee Organization to assist in the development of quality officials in North America.

If they need any tips on where to start, the mess that Ramon Hernandez made on Saturday is a wonderful place to start.

Let me first say a couple things. I know harping on officials is nothing new. Everyone dislikes every call. You can't really win. And I know soccer is notorious for it's problems. And I also know that the officiating didn't allow Wondolowski goal side and miss the interception (or leave him 8 years of space on the back post during a set piece,) but that doesn't mean it wasn't a problem.

Jun Marques Davidson and Martin Bonjour received early yellow cards, and while one was well deserved, Martin Bonjour's card could be considered fairly soft. At that point, I thought to myself, well, this'll be a tightly judge match. Fine.

Then Young-pyo Lee earned a yellow for another foul that I watched twice when it happened but still for the life of me can't remember anything that would earn a yellow.

Wow, I thought. Surely the Whitecaps are due a call or two.

The Caps score, and continue to press. And then it comes. Hassli has a heavy touch with pulls him to the end line and whips in a low cross to an onrushing Thorrington who is all draped in a black and blue jersey.

YES. There it is, my brain thinks, surely it must be a penalty. Wait. They're still playing? No foul?

It should have been 0-2 and the game takes a completely different shape.

Instead, the momentum swings the other direction and the Whitecaps defense folds. The throw in on the first goal may have been taken from a dozen or so yards too far down the pitch as well, but that's a rule which is commonly ignored.

Meanwhile, MLS All-Star Sebastien Le Toux has to deal with being hacked at continuously, and at one point, is taken out by a studs up tackle by Ramiro Corrales which, by earlier standards, should have certainly been a yellow if not a straight red. Corrales then had the gall to walk up to Le Toux and chirp him?

All I ask for is consistency. If you're going to be waving yellows all over, do it to both sides. if you're going to allow nasty studs up tackles, allow them for both teams. Don't put 3 defenders from one team on yellows early and allow the other to trample all over the leagues most skilled players. Surely it's not good for the fans, for the game, or for the league.

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