It may now be time to change the narrative when it comes to the Whitecaps' 2016 season. The team flew across the continent to play one of the hottest teams in the league on Saturday, only three days after a clutch come from behind win at home and only eight days after a gritty and spirited game against Portland.
Isn't this the same team that flew across the continent to Washington DC only to schlep around the field on tired legs while they were outplayed and outscored by a struggling DC United? And isn't it the same team that made that trip once more to Yankee Stadium, played a little better, but still lost to a NYCFC team that had yet to win at home? I hardly recognized them. Robbo started seven of the same players he started on Wednesday, including older legs in Morales, Bolaños and Harvey. With the same cross continent flight they found the energy to press hard, control the ball for stretches, score some lovely goals and hold on to a nail biting, shorts messing, nerve wracking attack on their lead while down a man. Is this the new Whitecaps team we can expect going forward?
Remember earlier in the season when they couldn't score a goal from open play. Remember the stretch when they couldn't score a goal at all. Saturday they potted four goals against a stingy defense to up their week long total to eight. Eight goals scored by five different players and three of them were strikers. The same striker core that was causing us fits because they couldn't score.
And what was that formation? Placing Bolaños and Morales, their two most skilled playmakers on either wing to hold the ball and create from either side was extremely effective Saturday. Morales exhibited an almost entirely new skill set from the Chicago game. In the place of the scintillating long range passes we know and expect from him, he displayed confident footwork in tight spaces with short, quick passes that sprung open his teammates. Morales played the wing in La Liga when he played for Malaga and he looked like he knew exactly what he was doing against Toronto. Wait, isn't this the same Morales that fails to show up in away games?
This has been a stellar week for the Whitecaps. Nine points in eight games against two rivals and a team they had to come from behind to beat. It would be convenient to say the injuries and suspensions that have haunted this team from week to week finally gave way to a consistent line up and their new found form. But Kudo is out for a while and Waston was suspended on yellow card accumulation and I think Aird will be gone for more than a game, so that's not it.
No, this is a team that is suddenly figuring themselves out despite the obstacles that continue to fall in their way. Finishers are beginning to finish, the passing game is beginning to create, players like Bolaños and Morales are influencing games and the team is scoring goals because they earned them rather than having them gifted.
The story has changed this week. Is this the Whitecaps we can expect from now on? It's been three games in a row.
*Editor's Note: This is EdmondK's first article for Eighty-Six Forever. Welcome to the team!