In looking back on the turd that was the Whitecaps performance against the Timbers over the weekend, it's easy to point to the goose egg on the Whitecaps side of the scoreboard and decry the lack of scoring once again. Believe me, it's a problem. However, the Whitecaps also looked weak on the backline in the second half of the match, leading one to wonder what area of the game the 'Caps are actually excelling at. I want to say.... snappier kits?
While Jay Demerit had clearly lost a step in 2014, his departure via retirement has still hurt the team. Kendall Waston was supposed to come in and fill the hole that left, but his adjustment to MLS is still ongoing. He, like almost every member of the Whitecaps, had a game to forget over the weekend. The Whitecaps backline depth will continue to be tested, as Johnny Leveron will miss the next three games due to international duty with Honduras.
That means Waston really needs to adjust quickly, something that's no easy task for players added mid-MLS season. We've seen plenty of mid-season Whitecap additions struggle in their early going in the league, so it may be unfair to expect Waston to be the savior at the position that the club needs right now. That line of thinking would definitely fall in line with the Whitecaps philosophy of sticking with the long-term plan, I guess.
This is the final stretch of the season, the time when the best MLS clubs pick up points and start gaining momentum toward the post-season. Instead of firing on all cylinders, the Whitecaps seem to be falling apart at the seams yet again.
Up front, the Whitecaps have well documented offensive struggles, and I'm not going to delve too deep into it. They haven't scored a goal in three straight matches, going 0-2-1 in that stretch. Darren Mattocks, Kekuta Manneh and Erik Hurtado have looked very young and lost, and it's not clear if they can get this team to the post-season. What is clear is that the fortunes of the club lie with midfielder Pedro Morales, but not even he has looked like his old self during this dry spell.
If the Whitecaps can't address their numerous issues quickly, they'll once again feel the disappointment of not making the post-season. It's going to be an ongoing process, because even if they manage to right the ship against DC United, they still need to be able to sustain that level of play moving forward. If the Whitecaps were to make the post-season, they'd no doubt be looked as a dark horse candidate to win the whole damn thing, given how much potential they ooze. However, that's the problem; it's all just potential right now.
Part of having a young team is dealing with the growing pains, and perhaps that's the type of mentality supporters need to have moving forward. Still, if this young core fails to generate much of anything over the last nine matches, management will have to consider taking a harder look at that long-term vision they've been talking about lately, won't they?