The Vancouver Whitecaps are a good team, but they’re not quite there yet.
After Saturday’s home defeat, 2-0, to the Seattle Sounders, Vancouver’s dominance of their Cascadia rivals has ended after a four game win streak, dating back to 2013, was snapped. The ‘Caps (6-4-2) entered the big derby match having gone 4-1-1 in their last six meetings against their neighbours to the south, collecting 13 from a possible 18 points and two Cascadia Cups along the way.
It took two fantastic finishes from Sounders’ forward Chad Barrett in the first-half and some long-spurts of possession in the second-half to swing the pendulum back Seattle’s way, reaffirming themselves as a dominant force within Cascadia.
Two chances and two goals. The first coming within the first five minutes of the game and the second coming within the final 10 minutes of the opening half. A clinical away performance from last seasons’ Supporters Shield winners.
“I spoke all week about the reason why they’re who they are is because they have four or five chances and they’re able to score two or three goals and we’re not quite at that level yet,” said Whitecaps manager Carl Robinson after the match. “We have 10 or 15 chances and we’re able to score none today, but maybe one or two goals.
“The good teams are able to do that and they find a way.”
The ‘Caps have the makings of what could be a very good team in Major League Soccer this season and they’ve showed that plenty of times since the start of their campaign with some gutsy road performances.
Yet, in a league where road victories come few and far between, three times this year, visitors have come into BC Place and taken all three points. The ‘Caps now lead the league in home losses, which is a stat that needs to change in order to have continued success.
Great teams thrive at home.
Getting behind early, especially to such an experience team, isn’t going to make for a very enjoyable afternoon for the home side and their fans.
“It’s not a trend we want to continue,” said Whitecaps defender Steven Beitashour. “We want to play in front of our crowd. They’re great, they’re so supportive and so loud and get behind us. We got to give them something to cheer and give them that early goal.
“[Seattle is] a smart team, they’re mature and they’re old. They’ve been around the block a few times. They know how to keep the ball and make us chase and tire us out. You’re just chasing empty grass around.
“It’s a big pitch. When you’re down 2-0 you have to chase, you can’t just sit back, otherwise they’re not going to come at you. They’re just going to waste all the time in the world.
“We know we’ve got a good team, but we want to get to a great team.”
When Vancouver was able to pickup the ball in the second-half, a sloppy pass on more than occasion combined with a Seattle defender brought any little spell of possession to an abrupt end, bringing about a collection of groans from the home supporters.
“I feel like we’re trying to make this our fortress,” said Whitecaps goalkeeper David Ousted. “We’re trying to make this a tough place to play, but we haven’t found the balance yet.”
Come June, the ‘Caps won’t play another home game until July, due to the FIFA Women’s World Cup taking over BC Place. Montreal, Los Angeles, New York (Red Bulls), New England and Colorado await before the next match at BC Place on July 12 against Sporting Kansas City. All tough places to play.
These five matches could be crucial to the outcome of Vancouver’s 2015 season.
For a ‘Caps team that is 3-1-1 away from home, compared to 3-3-1 at BC Place, five consecutive road games might not be a bad idea. Then again, the season is still young.