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Caps Corner: Whitecaps on thin edge between wins, losses

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Peter Schaad, Team 1040
7/13/2014 7:42:48 PM
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I'm going to talk margins in today's blog. The knife-edged difference between success and failure. Moments in a game, and in a season that can swing your fortunes dramatically - especially in a league like MLS.

There were one or two of those in the World Cup Final. A bad back pass here, a post hit off a corner there, with the stakes infinitely higher for both Germany and Argentina. In the end, one brilliant moment 117 minutes in will be remembered for a lifetime in Deutschland. A priceless memory, even though with even the slightest of variables, it could have been so much different.

As the Whitecaps reach half-time on their 2014 campaign, think for a moment about how 'Caps supporters are feeling today, compared with how they might have felt had their team managed to beat Chivas USA on Saturday night.

With three points, Vancouver would be sitting second in the West alongside Real Salt Lake, with a four-point cushion above the playoff bar. They would have also been two points ahead of last year's pace - an impressive achievement given Carl Robinson's dependence on youth.

Instead, the Whitecaps sit in fifth - two points behind last year's pace - with the LA Galaxy, Chivas and Portland bearing down in the rear-view mirror.

There you have the margins in an MLS season.

Then there are the defining ones within a game. Carlyle Mitchell found a yard of space in the penalty area before nodding home his first MLS goal between Dan Kennedy's legs. The cross from Pedro Morales had to be inch perfect. Johnny Leveron lost his man for one second, and Agustin Pelletieri equalized from a Chivas corner. That corner itself appeared contentious, until further review when the ball appeared to have just marginally brushed off the top of Steven Beitashour's head.

A twinge of irony too, as it was Pelletieri who was sent off in the two teams' earlier meeting in Carson. The decision was probably incorrect, but the Whitecaps couldn't take advantage on that day.

Jordan Harvey was one second late and one yard behind his tackle on Oswaldo Minda, and was sent off.

Nigel Reo Coker's right foot was one inch too open, and his side-footed effort from an Erik Hurtado cutback was a yard wide from giving Vancouver the lead.

Erick Torres found an extra yard of space, and he took full advantage as the 21-year-old Mexican scored a remarkable 13th goal, and a fourth straight game winner. Think about his value to the Goats having contributed 65 per cent of their goals this season.

And Dan Kennedy had at least four fingers and part of a palm on top of the ball that sat on his goal-line, before Morales poked it in during second half stoppage time. Just enough to be considered "in control" of the ball under the FIFA laws.

The problem for Coach Robinson right now is that he needs two players to swing some of those critical moments in his favour. The challenge is, some quick math will tell you there isn't a whole lot of margin on the payroll to add the elite central defender and certified goal poacher that can swing more moments in the Whitecaps' direction.

Saturday ended the Whitecaps' eight-game sellout run. Would another second half season slump turn people off?

The decisions Whitecaps brass make in these next few weeks may ultimately decide the margin of error between playoff soccer, and another off-season of "what-ifs" in Van City.

Erik Hurtado (Photo: Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)
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