Adversity breeds character, and harbouring that character can play an integral part in succeeding. The Caps have endured a great deal of scrutiny over recent weeks, however Wednesday's meeting with the Impact represented the outcome of that testing process. Conceding supposedly comfortable leads late in back-to-back road matches - with big implications - gave incentive for doubt among players and supporters alike. Moreover, it provided the roster with a question of mental fortitude, answering who in the team holds the resilience necessary to get back up off the floor.
It's been close to a fortnight since that infamous night at Sporting Park, yet somehow Carl Robinson's side look better prepared for the stretch than ever before. Now, beyond the satisfaction that comes with such reassurance, there is silverware to further galvanize the group moving forward. There are many in some part responsible for the rewarding turnaround negotiated from the first leg of the Canadian Championship onwards, and a few of which exerted that same influence in securing the elusive Voyageurs Cup at BC Place. It's important to recognize their efforts on a night where precedent and expectation were overcome with emphasis.
Octavio Rivero: A*
It wasn't necessarily one for the highlight reel, but Rivero's close-range poke home to break the deadlock was of enormous significance. Aesthetic quality notwithstanding, the decisive strike was somewhat poetic in that it spelled the culmination of two ongoing droughts previously surrounding both the player and the club. It had been some time since El Cabeza had beaten the keeper in open play, his last coming in early May, and the frustration created by that has been apparent for weeks. That sense of disappointment has been shared by the Whitecaps for much longer, finishing as runners' up in the competition on five occasions without ever having lifted the trophy.
Thanks to each other, they have delivered the long-awaited results demanded of them by everyone observing the team. Octavio owes his moment of joy to Cristian Techera, whose deflected effort was met by his fellow countryman a yard out before making acquaintances with the net. While it wasn't the most heartwarming goal you'll ever see, the ends justify the means and the Bug will benefit from a productive Rivero in the long run. The DP's quick feet to draw the foul and give Victor Cabrera his marching orders were methodically brilliant, in much the same way as his play through six months of the regular season. Let's hope the good times in front of goal are making a return.
Tim Parker: A
It would be fair to comment that Parker was the subject of particular focus in the aftermath of the collapses in Montreal and Kansas City. He failed to conduct himself in the same manner he had done throughout his first year in the league in both contests, abandoning his composure late to costly consequences. It's imperative to consider every appearance made by a rookie in context, more so at the centre-back position where there is usually more responsibility attached to the starter regardless of age, and he certainly utilized those experiences as lessons. Nobody will have been educated more by this baptism of fire than the Hicksville, New York native.
Many have been taken aback by the maturity exhibited by the 22-year-old after becoming the 13th overall selection in 2015's draft, and that much was evident in an evening of redemption for the collegiate product. His headed attempt to double the Blue and White's advantage was superb, advertizing the same intelligence within the area as his first goal for the club in the Champions League. Partnered by Kendall Waston, Robbo perhaps previewed the future of his back-line for years ahead and in doing so has presented supporters with reason for excitement. It's impossible to argue the value of taking him in the first round, showing that MLS talent can be obtained from the NCAA level.
Gershon Koffie and Russell Teibert: A
Nothing has been more enjoyable to watch lately than the in-form Gershon Koffie. He has formed a two-headed monster with Mati Laba in the double-pivot, broadcasting a kind of chemistry not seen before between the two. This is largely the product of a change in role in the engine-room for the Ghanaian, moving away from the box-to-box position and more into a destroyer type function. Russell Teibert replaced the invaluable Argentine against Montreal, but that had no adverse effect on Gersh in his endeavours to wreak havoc anywhere and everywhere - he was ubiquitous all night. It served as a convenient reminder of how far the midfield has come without Nigel Reo-Coker's involvement, capable of excellence even without Robbo's most valuable player in the XI.
Teibert was the sole Canuck featuring in the starting line-up, playing with a patriotic hunger as he put in his most positive outing in a while. His distribution from deep continues to pay dividends, coming on leaps and bounds as he has further defined himself in the middle of the park. Koffie has been a Cap since 2010, preceding the MLS era, and to see both him and Canadian Soccer Jesus walk away with winners' medals was delightful. The balance between Gersh and Rusty is worth remembering as it might be relied upon over coming years if interest in Laba translates into a transfer. An uncomfortable scenario made somewhat less upsetting by a horizon with promise.
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