Right when the Whitecaps looked like they were ready to take control, there's a mistake. One simple, bone-headed play and suddenly the Whitecaps are down to 10 men. Then, just as suddenly, two goals are into the back of the net. Goodnight nurse, not even the speedy Kekuta Manneh could pull the Whitecaps out of the fire this time. If you're a glass half full kind of guy, then the 'Caps are 2-1-2, good enough for 3rd in the west, and that's a pretty darn good start. If you're the other kind, the 'Caps deserve to be unbeaten and wuz robbed.
So, as we march through the season, we just gotta ask;
Will the floodgates finally open for Mattocks?
It's already been talked about pretty heavily this week, so I don't really need to remind you that Darren Mattocks finally scored a goal, ending a drought that extended back to July of 2013. More than that, Mattocks was engaged offensively throughout the match, showing some burgeoning chemistry with veteran Kenny Miller. It's nothing new though, Mattocks has been on his game for the majority of this young season.
Mattocks has only really had one spurt of production in his career, between May and July in 2012, where he scored 6 of his career 11 goals. Since, it's been a goal here and there, often weeks apart. However, now he's a featured member of the offence, starting every match this season. With all the playing time this season, will he finally start getting rewarded on a more consistent basis?
I was pretty hard on Mattocks earlier in the season, and while I'm still not a big fan of his pout sessions following a substitution, Mattocks has effectively quelled all that negative talk about that cement-headed interview he did in Jamaica a few months ago. Every article I've read about Mattocks has used one word; maturing. It's nice to see, just like this goal.
Is Carlyle Mitchell forever destined for the bench?
Poor Carlyle Mitchell. When pressed into action last season, he became one of the bright spots of the Whitecaps bleak season. Now, he's been pushed down the depth chart due to a healthy pairing of Jay Demerit and Andy O'Brien. Even after that duo, Johnny Leveron seems to have the edge.
It must be tough for Mitchell, who played a ton of minutes for the 'Caps last season, and now must sit and watch. Mitchell survived the loans to Charleston and will serve as a terrific depth option should the injury bug sneak it's way into the 'Caps locker room again, but it's still a shame to see a guy with talent sit on the bench for so long.
What the heck happened when the 'Caps were down to 10 men?
You could blame the 'Caps disjointed conclusion to the contest on emotions. After all, nobody in the stadium was happy to see Matias Laba sent off for such a ridiculous play. (Side note: Whether or not the call was harsh, Laba has learned a very important lesson early in his career; play to the freaking whistle.)
That being said, just because the 'Caps were down a body doesn't mean they had to go into full shell shock mode. As Russell Berrisford pointed out in his article for the Vancouver Sun, Chivas USA taught the Whitecaps that lesson earlier this season, when they were able to hold the 'Cap attack at bay despite being at just 10 men for the majority of the contest. It ended 1-1 draw, the Whitecaps collective bacon saved by a late Kekuta Manneh marker.
Why couldn't the 'Caps produce something similar? They were at home, their supposed fortress, the only thing that lets us turn a blind eye to their struggles on the road. The 'Caps looked simply over-matched when they were at 10, something Carl Robinson will obviously want to remedy moving forward.