Yes, it's a small sample size, but for our purposes here it's probably just enough to qualify. The Vancouver Whitecaps have completed four matches of their 34-game regular season schedule. So where do they stand under coach Carl Robinson? It's looking pretty interesting - so far.
Here's a look at the Caps' first-four performance over the past four years.
RECORD AFTER 4 MATCHES
2011: 1W-1L-2D (3H, 1A)
2012: 2W-0L-2D (2H, 2A)
2013: 2W-2L-0D (2H, 2A)
2014: 2W-0L-2D (2H, 2A)
More than anything, the table above highlights how poor the caps were in year one. Five points earned in four matches - three of which were home dates. Current squad has 8 points, with all 6 points taken from their two home dates.
CAPS' POSSESSION AVG
A nice, steady increase years one through three, but flattening out so far this year. This is a bit of a surprise, considering that Robinson has placed such emphasis on building from the back, and playing a possession game. Maybe not a surprise after all - if you watched how the blue-and-white got away from that game plan in both road matches.
Camilo who? Although, if memory serves correctly, the Caps haven't scored yet off a FK, they do have Kenny Miller to thank for two converted PK attempts (only one of which was counted). Unsurprisingly Miller leads the way this year with 3 markers, but four others have found net as well.
Oh yeah, I'd almost forgotten about that great start to the season defensively in 2012! But this year, including matches vs NY and HOU, I'd say a total of 3 goals scored against Vancouver over four matches is pretty decent defending. And to his credit, David Ousted looks to have stepped up his game as well.
PASS COMP AVG
Hmmm. Not too bad, and would have been much better had the Whitecaps not reverted to long ball footy on the road vs Chivas and New England. Given the increased quality of players and Robinson's stated desire to maintain possession, this is going to need improvement. If everyone can take the cue from Pedro Morales, the Caps should improve here.
OPPOSITION SHOTS ATTEMPTED
While Vancouver looks to need to tighten up defensively just a little, only 16 opposition shots have actually fallen on target thus far over four matches. Four of those were long-range bombs at Ousted, so the Dane's only had to deal with 12 threatening shots in the four matches the Caps have played.
CAPS SHOTS ON TARGET
When attacking, Vancouver is far less wasteful than it was in years gone by. This is one key area that Vancouver looks to have turned around. After all, if you're shooting over the bar, wide of the goal, or driving the ball at opposition shins, the percentage of balls going in is going to be zero.
The signs are encouraging, and BC Place continues to be practically unassailable to visiting teams. With two victories to date over high-quality MLS sides, there's little reason to expect anything but more of the same for this coming weekend.