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Whitecaps Need to Find Another Gear

While Ace Hood might have woken up in a new Bugatti, it would seem Vancouver Whitecaps fans have regained consciousness in an old jalopy. If you're under 25, you'll get the Hood reference, but if you're 30+, it's the jalopy that will resonate.

Harold Cunningham

It's only now occurred to me that for automakers and sports franchises, the roll out of a new season is more or less the same. It's a time when appetites are whet, when dreams are incorporated into reality, and sleek redesigns are unveiled to fans of both camps: the curve and the angular.

From the glam and glitter associated with the grand unveiling of new kits, to the performance testing of preseason, the arrival of each new spring is when footy fans are treated to a look under the hood, and are encouraged to - no, seduced into - imaging what bright conquests lie further down the road for their team.

It's all polished chrome, metallic paint, matte finish grilles, and the glossiest black sidewalls that Armor All can muster.

As the season opens, it's a bold new look for both the fans and opposition alike - but over the course of time, it's one that progresses from the impressive, to the familiar, to the passé all too quickly.

And now, with 10 matches remaining in the 2014 season, it looks as if the cream of the Whitecaps' opposition has figured out how to tune their particular vehicles to get the better of the Vancouver machine. Even the also-rans are running nose to nose with the Caps - who've managed just three wins in the past three months.

In the short time remaining, can Crew Chief Carl Robinson figure out a way to retool to get the Caps back on track? Is the cure to be found in a new Mattocks fuel-injector? Hurtado headers? Or maybe a re-vamped Laba braking system, coupled with the all-new 2014 Morales drivetrain?

The dreaded summer lull has, for the Whitecaps, moved from being merely a trend to a tradition. It's now up to Robinson to break with tradition, and to get the Caps to the finish line in 5th or better. With just two months left in the regular season, Robbo's got precious little time to get the car up on the hoist and get things done.

A windshield wash won't cut it. We're talking air-wrenches working overtime here.

One thing's for sure in this market: If the car can't be improved and finishes out of the running, there will be voices out there that question not the car, but the crew chief.