The Vancouver Whitecaps secured their 3rd playoff berth in their 5 years in MLS with a 0-0 draw at BC Place Wednesday evening. In doing so, the Whitecaps also tied their point total from last year, with two games remaining on the schedule to surpass that mark. However, is this a game that should be celebrated or is it a sign of the struggles of the Whitecaps of late to score goals.
As a fan, the first half was entertaining. It was not entertaining because of end-to-end action. Rather it was the strategic play back and forth between FC Dallas and the Vancouver Whitecaps. In a rare occurrence, at halftime the Whitecaps held the possession advantage 56 to 44. While I will leave the report card duties to my colleague, I will note that I was rather impressed by Rivero as well. He looked very lively and had several good chances to open the match. I had high hopes that he would find the back of the net before the night was through. However, that did not occur.
Despite the positive first half, I am sure other Whitecaps fans were like myself, unsure what team would come out in the second half. The Whitecaps have had a habit of not playing a consistent full-game. Although the second half did not result in any goals, the Whitecaps have to be happy with their effort. However, as the number of games remaining continue to count down in the very tight Western Conference, the silver lining of a draw and good effort may not end up being enough. Moreover, this match could have easily turned to a nightmare for the Whitecaps in the 90th minute when Whitecaps-killer Blas Perez narrowly missed the net.
The Whitecaps currently sit 3rd in the West and I am sure that all fantasies about the 'Caps winning the Supporters Shield have properly ceased. Moreover, I think hopes of finishing in the top two have almost been snuffed out with the Whitecaps final two games being played in Dallas next Wednesday and concluding with Houston at home. The final two games of the season will be crucial to whether the Whitecaps host their first ever home playoff game, or whether they go into the playoffs on a poor run of form.
Throwing some complications into the conclusion of the season are some tough roster questions that will need to be sorted out. First, the Whitecaps have several players away on international duty. While Kendall Waston is expected back for next week's match in Dallas, it is important to note that Costa Rica will be playing in New York Tuesday evening. Therefore, Waston will be arriving in Dallas the morning of the game. The Whitecaps will also be without Darren Mattocks, Kianz Froese, and Sam Adekugbe. More importantly, there are MANY injury questions piling up for the Whitecaps; especially in the midfield. Pedro Morales...GONE, Nicolás Mezquida...GONE, Cristian Techera....GONE, Mauro Rosales...GONE. On the back-line it appears that Pa Modou Kah is carrying a bit of an injury as well. As a result, in Dallas we might see Marco Bustos and Christian Dean (or Deigo Rodriguez) get some time.
What happens with the Whitecaps over the next seven days may be just as crucial as what happens in their last two matches. I am sure there will be plenty of talking points for Whitecaps fans. Let us know in the comments whether the sky is falling or whether there is a silver lining. What do you predict for the last two games of the regular season and the playoffs?
P.S. Congrats to Jordan Harvey on the birth of his first child this morning. Played on three hours of sleep. Going to be a busy end of the season for Harvey.