The Whitecaps may have suffered their first defeat on Saturday but the season continues to be a learning curve for fans, players and coaching staff alike. So what can we all take away from the game against Philadelphia?
1) The Whitecaps are well organised- with their two first choice central defenders away on international action there was always the chance that the defence could have imploded. Some of the credit goes to the two stand-ins but much more has to go the coaching staff who have clearly worked hard on the team playing a system that they all understand. Being difficult to beat is a good grounding for any expansion side.
2) Eric Hassli can be provoked- he was probably as sinned against as sinning on Saturday, but opposition defenders will have taken note that he can be wound up by physical challenges. He needs to learn that the best revenge is to score goals, not give away fouls.
3) David Chiumiento is a crucial player- Russel Tiebert did well again on the left wing but without Chiumiento Vancouver were missing the spark of originality that he brings to their attack. Keeping him fit will be crucail for the season (especially the home games).
4) The set- pieces need work- maybe it can be put down to the windy conditions but the Whitecaps wasted a number of good opportunities to put the Union under pressure from dangerous free-kicks. When a side is struggling to make chances a well executed set-piece can be like gold dust and make the difference between a win and a loss. This area needs to improve.
5) The team need to adapt to the referee- whatever your opinion of the match official against Philadelphia (and my opinion is that he was dreadful) the Union worked him out quicker than the Whitecaps did. The players need to be more savvy in adapting their game to each individual in charge.
Even in defeat there are still more positives than negatives for the team but the next few games lean heavily towards a home schedule and they will need to take advantage of that fact if the season is to be a genuinely impressive one.Tags: David Chiumiento, Eric Hassli, Vancouver Whitecaps, World soccer