Sunday morning, and I woke up late -- to find our European house guests enjoy Sumatra more than I would like. With Switzerland (the only nation to defeat Spain at the 2010 World Cup) having failed miserably in their attempt to qualify for Euro 2012, half of my in-laws have decided to abandon the Alps to visit Vancouver this year - and drink my stash.
It's all part of the daily grind, and while they're off sightseeing after having woken up at 4:00 a.m., I've got a little time to assemble the fractured moments of clarity that only a piping hot mug of black mud can help glue back together.
I readily admit to being a "glass half-empty" type by nature. After all, a heaping pile of crow tastes marginally better when the Whitecaps do well than it does when they play poorly. Through no fault of my own, however, I'm finding myself starting to slide inexorably toward "glass three-quarters full" territory. And if the Caps can manage to down the visiting New York Red Bulls on Wednesday evening in the last match of Vancouver's three-game home stand, my sleeve will indeed runneth over.
Doubters will happily point to the fact that the Whitecaps have merely benefited from good fortune lately, with the Houston Dynamo coming into town sans half their back line due to international duty, and the Colorado Rapids arriving via Medivac, as their injury list is longer than their game-day roster. And to be honest, they do have a point.
But, in tracking the tale of these two cities for the Whitecaps, it has indeed been the best of times and the worst of times.
Vancouver was full value for the win over the Dynamo, and despite giving up an edge in possession, put seven balls on target in 15 attempts. Vancouver's 60% duels won in that match was testament to the solid midfield play of Gershon Koffie, John Thorrington, and Jun Marques Davidson. And I'm not even touching on Koffie's outstanding distribution in that match. For the Dynamo, only Macoumba Kandji's late marker in the 83rd minute made it interesting - for five minutes until Jordan Harvey made it 3-1.
Last night versus the Rapids, the Browncaps had to tame a very different beast. To begin with, in fitting Wetcoast style, shouts of "You fat bastard!" were being served up not so much to opposition 'keeper Matt Pickens as they were to yellow-shirt Jason Anno, who refused to call a number of flagrant fouls committed against the home side, while quickly whistling down anything going the other way. In the interest of balance, though, the rather portly Anno was correct in meting out both the initial yellow and yellow/red to one young Mr. Mattocks - the former infraction for diving at 59', and the latter just a minute afterward for the clumsy sort of challenge that got Eric Hassli into all sorts of trouble last season.
Vancouver seemed to play the match in roughly 20-minute shifts, particularly in the first half...alternating between scrambly disconnection and then shifting into the sublime. As the saying goes, "the stats don't lie," and they speak volumes of truth about how an injury-riddled side at times outplayed the brown-and-white. If not for a post, a crossbar, the once-again stellar Joe Cannon, and Martin "take one for the team" Bonjour, the scoreline could easily have been quite different. Yet, the Caps prevailed - demonstrating that even when they don't play a great 90', and even when down to 10 men, this side can find ways to win the games they're expected to.
Now, focusing on the quarter of my glass that remains empty. I'm somewhat concerned by Whitecaps' shift to B.C. Lions style football - put a helmet on Darren Mattocks...tell him to run a post pattern, and you've got WCFC's answer to CFL all-universe receiver Geroy Simon. It's all beautiful and everything to see the lofted rainbow perfectly weighted to drop in behind the defender: "...Davide Chiumiento looks...rolls right...goes deep downfield to Le Toux...
touchdown!... it's in the back of the net!...goal!", but with the emergence of Darren Mattocks as the lightning bolt that sparks the team's offensive thrust, there's the danger the team becoming one-dimensional via route 1. I'd like to see the team rely on a number of threats, and on a number of attacking options, rather than put so much emphasis on one man and objective.
With the arrival of Barry Robson this coming week, I suspect that down the line we may see those second and third options start to reveal themselves. And, assuming that the Mayans were better at building pyramids than they were at designing calendars, maybe next year we can all look back on a season where all Whitecaps fans will be able to hoist a full mug to a great 2012 season.