The Vancouver Whitecaps played the Portland Timbers to a 1-1 draw in MLS action. Vancouver, it has to be said, looked quite good. They were able to provide some goal-scoring threat throughout the match, not just until they scored a goal, and until Portland won a late penalty you didn’t get the sense of impending doom you got in previous games.
Isaac Boehmer was, once again, fantastic in goal. He came up with big saves when the Whitecaps needed him too and looked supremely confident coming out of his goal for crosses. I am slightly baffled that he has done this well, considering he has been extremely mediocre in MLS Next Pro this season but at this point, he’s Vancouver’s first choice keeper until he proves he isn’t.
What we saw in this match is that if the Whitecaps get above-average goalkeeping, and Cubas is on the pitch, it’s supremely difficult to score on them. This is true even if two of the other players in key defensive roles are Jake Nerwinski and Russell Teibert (or a slightly spacey Triston Blackmon). This leads me to ask, what would happen if they had better players in those positions? Would they ever concede a goal again? There are a lot of “ifs” in that hypothetical but as Greece at Euro 2004, Canada at the 2020 Olympics, and England at Euro 2020 showed us, simply never conceding a goal can take you quite a long way.
At the other end, it was a return to form for Brian White and Ryan Gauld. White scored a lovely goal and Gauld was very unlucky that none of his contributions resulted in a goal or an assist. Those two returning to the form they showed last season just as Julian Gressel arrives to give the offence some kick is an enticing possibility. If they can pair that kind of offensive threat with Cubas’ stabilizing defensive presence then the Whitecaps won’t be an easy out for anyone.
Next up are two home matches. A league game against the Chicago Fire and the Canadian Championship final against Toronto F.C. Both teams have had bad seasons so you would hope that the Whitecaps can keep the positive feelings going next week.