Martin Rennie gave the Los Angeles Galaxy a lot of credit, post-game, for how they played against the Vancouver Whitecaps. "The way they were playing early, no team was going to beat them", that kind of thing; it isn't actually a quote because I'm sitting down banging this out before work and am not really in a position to look it up. I certainly feel I accurately communicated the gist of it.
Well, he's right. Bloody hell, the Galaxy were on their home ground, they're starting to round into form, we all saw what they did to Real Salt Lake midweek, and they finally got Landon Donovan into gear after he's spent the entire season idling in the driveway. Both teams had good reason to be tired but the Whitecaps have played a lot lately, were taking on a team that frankly hasn't shown much this year, and all of a sudden the rightly-capitalized MLS Champions are coming at them like bats out of hell.
After games like that, it's natural for fans' frustration to get the better of them. The Whitecaps enjoyed some arguably-earned time off in California after the game; you didn't have to look too far for suggestions Rennie should have given the players the hair-dryer treatment. Thrown chairs at them, or alternatively thrown them at the chairs.
Well, sometimes you just get beat. That's soccer. Martin Bonjour is still in his first MLS season. I know he comes from Argentina but there's a decent chance Saturday's on-form Landycakes is the best player he's ever been asked to defend. He looked a bit overwhelmed but, by goodness, you don't need to look too far to see decent reasons why. Darren Mattocks, winding up isolated up top as the team receded further and further back to just stop the bleeding, didn't look like much of anything. But the kid's inexperienced even for a rookie and has so much to learn about being a consistently useful professional in fields other than "get on the end of that perfect long ball". Jun Marques Davidson? This ain't the second Japanese division no more, buddy. The indiscipline from Davidson hurt, that requires some serious coaching, but you can sure see where it came from.
Many of the Whitecaps have been asked to take a step up this year. As we can see from the standings, this is paying excellent dividends. But it also means you can't, or more accurately shouldn't, go bananas when that inexperience rears its ugly head from time to time.
So yeah, I understand what went wrong for the Whitecaps. A team which isn't very good yet ran into a brick wall of the most talented team in MLS finally figuring out what that means. Is that a problem you can solve by making the Whitecaps sprint until they throw up? Will canceling time off make Eric Hassli able to carry the ball from half to goal without an iota of meaningful support from the other forwards as an "impact substitute"?
That's what I thought.