It's 48 hours later, and the vibe hasn't quite worn off yet, after the Vancouver Whitecaps ran roughshod over the Earthquakes for the first hour or so on Saturday afternoon.
In my season preview, I'd pointed out that one key for the Caps this year was to avoid conceding early markers - something that did on numerous occasions in 2013. The subject of poor starts got more attention again last week after the Caps' dreadful opening half on the road against RSL. Well, that lesson seems to have been learned, with Vancouver pumping markers past Jon Busch both early and often.
For this edition of the Caps' Report Card, a slight twist, as we include both Subject and Grading:
Gershon Koffie - B+ (9 recoveries, 2 tackles won, 84% passing)
Seems to have learned from mistakes of the past. With Nigel Reo-Coker now firmly rooted to the bench, and Russell Teibert not really impressing of late, it was Koffie's opportunity once again to earn some midfield plaudits - which he succeeded in doing on Saturday. Energetic box to box, and better suited to a pairing with Mathias Laba than Reo-C in my mind.
Pedro Morales - A- (2 goals, 5 shots, 3 shots on target)
When Morales is on his game, he just lifts the entire team's effectiveness. Two goals a minute apart gets him the MoM award, but it's his mastery of parabolic passing that highlights his skill. On several occasions he hit moving targets from distance, placing the ball with such accuracy that teammates didn't even have to break stride.
Steven Beitashour - B (3 recoveries, 2 blocked crosses, 2 interceptions, 2 clearances)
If a RB falls in the forest, can he still stop a Shea Salinas? Yes. For the most part, Beitashour held Salinas in check, pretty much negating much of the attack from the right wing - even when down on the carpet. Starting to make more forays forward - a welcome sight for someone renowned for his crossing ability.
Erik Hurtado - B+ (2shots: 1 saved, 1 blocked)
I really like what we saw from Hurtado on Saturday - and believe we're starting to see the emergence of a very promising young player. Keeping in mind that he came in stone cold when Mattocks went down, and that he'd amassed only 90' in total over 5 appearances prior to this past weekend, there's little question that Hurtado's - if you'll excuse the pun - in the running for most improved player. Not fully polished quite yet, but his touch is greatly improved, and he's showing that he doesn't have to rely wholly on brute power to beat a guy anymore.
Mathias Laba - B+ (5 tackles won, 7 recoveries)
What happens when you insert Laba into a lineup? Instant rock face that changes the landscape for the opposing team. Laba covered a lot of ground Saturday, harrying the Quakes' midfielders especially, and generally plugging any fault lines running north south for the Caps.