It took a few things for the Vancouver Whitecaps to bump their mini-slump, in which they showed a complete inability to close out opponents, resulting in plenty of one-point draws in the midst of a tight Western Conference playoff race. First, it took luck, something the Whitecaps haven't been privy to these last few weeks. Whether it be an ill-timed red card, or a hair-pulling-out-your-head-in-disbelief-and-also-supreme-anger handball, the Whitecaps were due to finally give lady luck a big smack on the lips.
Two, it needed Pedro Freaking Morales.
In the midst of a Darren Mattocks run of goals that now totals 4 in 3 matches, the young Jamaican has been in a distant second in conversation night in and night out around the city about the teams' most dynamic player. Morales has been a wizard in midfield, some of his passes jaw-dropping, and of course he's also been automatic at the penalty spot (as he should be, but just saying.)
The odds were stacked against Morales in coming here, given the Whitecaps have had a checkered past when it comes to acquiring designated players. Names like Hassli, Miller and Robson had moments for the club, Miller arguably a decent acquisition, albeit not spectacular. Then there's some guy named Jarju, I don't remember him. I don't think he ever played here, nope, nope, la, la, la, I can't hear you. However, both Morales and Matias Laba have come in and performed spectacularly in their roles. While Laba is the defensive engine of the club and an absolute rock in the starting 11, Morales is the most important player on the offensive side of the ball, and could be making a case for league MVP, if the league ever does decide to pay attention to our neck of the woods. (It's pretty! We have mountains!)
Last year, the club relied heavily on Camilo and his league high 22 regular season goals. This season it's Morales, and his importance to the club is shown through the fact he's already wearing the Captain's armband, despite this being his rookie MLS season. Even more, Morales had the class to write an open letter to Jay DeMerit n response to DeMerit's retirement. Sure, a bit cheesy, but a still a nice touch for the new face of the franchise.
It's become clear that while the 'Caps have a nice corral of young guns in players like Mattocks, Hurtado, Manneh, and (hopefully one day) Salgado, at this point they are supporting players to the cause, talented guys that will go on hot streaks, then inevitably cool off for far too long. While in the pre-season, we thought it would have to be the youth revolution leading the 'Caps into 2014, it's clear that job has fallen to the new Captain.