Just when you think you've got the team figured out, the Vancouver Whitecaps will find a way to surprise you. In 2011, an exciting 4-2 win against TFC at beautiful Empire Field made us dare to dream about what the 'Caps could accomplish. Surprisingly (or, not surprisingly if you weren't fooled), the Whitecaps never matched that level of intensity again, finishing dead last in the Western Conference.
Then came 2012, under new Head Coach Martin Rennie. The 'Caps were the toast of the town throughout the first half of the season before the wheels fell off to an extent, and the club ended up backing into the post-season. Still, Bob Lenarduzzi called the season a success given the circumstances, and the club moved into 2013 hoping to build on the first playoff appearance for a Canadian franchise in MLS history. Things started well enough, before the club lost its way again near the middle mark of the season. This time the team would miss the playoffs entirely, and Martin Rennie would lose his job.
Now, it's 2014, and the 'Caps have plenty of new faces on their roster, as well as a new Head Coach in Carl Robinson. Again, the season began well enough, this time the 'Caps starting the year with a 4-1 rout of the NY Red Bulls. The 'Caps wouldn't lose outright in MLS regular season play until the fifth match of the season, a 2-1 loss to the Colorado Rapids. They lost their next one as well, a 1-0 squeaker to the LA Galaxy, before churning out two draws in their next two matches to close out the month of April.
May was arguably the team's best month, posting wins over the Earthquake and Crew, before a thrilling 2-2 draw with the Seattle Sounders. While the Sounders were missing Clint Dempsey and DeAndre Yedlin, the draw was encouraging, and showed that the Whitecaps could indeed play with the top teams in MLS.
Then came June; it started on a high note with a 4-3 victory over the Portland Timbers, but after another goalfest, this time a 3-3 draw with the Philadelphia Union, the 'Caps defense was called into question by fans and media alike. While many hoped a two-week World Cup break would be enough time for the 'Caps to work out the kinks, it would be their offense that would let them down in back-to-back dismal efforts versus the Impact (0-0 draw), and the Rapids (2-0 loss.)
Things looked pretty bad, but then the Whitecaps rebounded by topping the Seattle Sounders to kick off this month by a 1-0 final score. Despite the Sounders' notable absences (Dempsey, Yedlin, Obafemi Martins), the 'Caps unquestionably earned their victory, and re-established some of their swagger at the same time.
So, with less than 20 matches to go in the regular season, we have to know; Do you believe this squad is capable of putting a decent second half together, or will they falter like the last two seasons? They're in a playoff spot today, and with the LA Galaxy just four points back and holding two games in hand, I know I certainly hope it's the former.
Let us know what you think in the poll, or in the comments.