If there is something that I hate when I am reading about sports it is when writers overvalue the importance of one game, or when they are alarmist about something that would otherwise not be that big of a deal. So, having said that, here we go.
The Whitecaps are heading down to sunny California for the second time in the young 2014 MLS campaign - only this time they will face the other tenant of the Stub Hub Center, the LA Galaxy. It will be the beginning of a home and home series with the MLS Galacticos which will precede another road trip down to Sandy, Utah to battle the always difficult Real Salt Lake. These three matches will be followed by the Whitecaps' first clash of the season with the San Jose Earthquakes at BC Place on May 3.
It may be too early in the season to start sounding the alarms or to declare a particular series of matches as "must-win". However, I do contend that the next four weeks may indeed hold a special significance and, for better or worse, set the tone for the path that the ‘Caps will follow for the rest of 2014 schedule.
You may say, "Come on, Jorge. There will be 25 more games after this stretch! Get a grip!" or "Even if they drop points, you hear all the time about teams having a slow start but heating up as the season goes along". I would retort "Very valid and intelligent points, dear reader, I would definitely agree with both assertions."
However, humour me for a second and allow me to put down a couple of thoughts. While it is true that it is still very early in the season (according to my abacus we have only played 14.7% of it), don't we often finish off the year having conversations where we recall early season games where points were dropped that would make all the difference? Those games are these games. We don't want to start falling behind in the playoff race in a conference where third and seventh place may be separated by a handful of points at the end of the season.
Past years, and even the early stages of this 2014 campaign, have proven that the boys in blue and white struggle to get results against Western conference opposition, so sitting on the doorstep of four consecutive battles with tough Western squads could break the shackles off of this notion if good results are achieved or it could just reinforce in people's (and maybe players'?) minds that the Caps truly can't match up.
Maybe it is just me. Maybe I am just scraping the bottom of the barrel and attempting to create a story out of thin air. Listen, I am not saying that the next four games will make or break the season, but what I am saying is that the next few weeks will be very interesting.
If you think I am completely off base, please do let me know in the comments section.
Don't forget to get ready to this weekend by listening to the latest episode of From the Backline where we dissect the game against Colorado and we preview the game against the LA Galaxy.