MLS

Caps Corner: Saturday's subtle turning point

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Peter Schaad,
8/31/2014 11:08:47 PM
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After a relative saw off in the first half, one in which the Whitecaps created the better chances, only one team seemed to come out for the start of the second, and it wasn't the home team.

It's an issue that has crept up from time to time for Vancouver, the most notable example being their July game with Chivas at BC Place.  In that game, they conceded off a corner in the very early stages of the second half.  Momentum turned, and the Whitecaps never got it back.

The momentum turner against Portland also occurred early in the second half.

Pedro Morales, who by his own high standards had probably his least effective home game since joining the club, took a knock, fell to the turf, and remained down with his boot off for a good two minutes.

There was confusion, there was concern.

An awful thought crossed my mind, as it probably did the manager's, and seemingly Morales' teammates too. 

If the skipper was seriously hurt, then the Portland game was inconsequential, the Whitecaps season would be in serious jeopardy.

The Caps played for a few moments with 10 men, and then for a few more with the skipper hobbling. Not long after, Alvis Powell drifted in front of Andy O'Brien to glance home the first, and eventual game winner for the Timbers.

It was a double sucker punch.  Concern for the captain, some discombobulation in his absence, and then the whammy of a goal against. Having been blanked in four of the last five, the realization will have sunk in to the young Whitecaps: that coming back would be a tall order.

If that was the game's defining moment, the consensus theme from the latest Cascadia clash was how badly they missed Gershon Koffie.

In Carl Robinson's three-man central midfield set-up, one of the two holding pivots has to be able to provide something going forward.     

At one point, assistant coach Martyn Pert seemed to be begging Russell Teibert to try and penetrate, rather than constantly deferring to teammates laterally or behind him. That's where Koffie was sorely missed.

But the most worrisome matter from Saturday was the continuation of a franchise trend to come up short in big home games during the season's run in. Last year, it was a devastating loss to RSL's second string team before 2-2 draws with Chivas and Portland when they needed maximum points. Even in 2012 when they made the playoffs, the Whitecaps lost 2-0 at home to Dallas, and later, 1-0 again to the Timbers, who have yet to lose in Vancouver.  They even spoiled the BC Place grand opening in 2011. 

From here, the biggest question will be whether the higher ups acquiesce to the mounting demand by fans and media to bring in a goal scorer.  At this stage, and with their cap maxed, that's a tall order, and would mean moving a young asset, something they've been loathe to do.  Waiting until the off-season when the cap situation improves and more high end strikers are available would probably be the more prudent long term approach.

That's a tough sell to an impatient fan base, especially as season tickets come up for renewal.

Pedro Morales (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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