Call it being an optimist, or perhaps just a case of lowered expectation. The Vancouver Whitecaps, after being so incredibly awful on the road for the majority of their MLS existence, managed just one point against 10 man Chivas USA over the weekend. The Goats, coming off an abhorrent season in which they were bottom feeders in the West, looked like defensive wizards, suffocating the 'Caps attack for most of the match. Skill players like Pedro Morales and Nigel Reo-Coker (he of the now infamous 'suicide pass') were held largely in check, and it would take a late Kekuta Manneh equalizer to eke out that point.
With all that being said, is it a bad thing that immediately following the match I was, I don't know, relieved at the outcome? We're talking about the Vancouver Whitecaps here, the club that has an abysmal record of 7 wins, 31 losses and 13, well, now 14 draws away from the confines of BC Place in their MLS history. Whatever sudden jolt of optimism there was when Chivas was shown the red so early in the match evaporated pretty quickly, when it became clear the 'Caps would play with cement legs for the rest of the match.
Still, in previous years, the 'Caps have shown us that they're more likely to drop those big, important matches than walk away with a victory. So, in a match where the 'Caps had a clear advantage on the pitch, it almost made sense that they wouldn't, no, they absolutely couldn't walk away with the full three points. In fact, you could argue that the 'Caps defied expectations when they did even the score up, that the one point in the bank was a pleasant surprise.
Perhaps I'm not being fair. After all, the 'Caps have improved their road record every year they've been in the league. In 2011, they didn't win a single match on the road, going 0-12-5. That became 3-10-4 in 2012, and then 4-9-4 a year later. By that standard, the 'Caps might actually be plodding towards, or at least, near the .500 mark. I think that's called crawling before you learn to walk. While it might be maddening to watch the 'Caps lay an egg like they did on the weekend, if we look at it as a long term project, it's not so soul crushing.
Of course that does beg the question for next week; the New England Revolution are currently 0-2, and as a point of reference, are near the bottom of this week's power rankings from ESPN. Are the 'Caps favourites, with a superior overall record, or does their horrible road history make them the underdog?