It’s official. The Vancouver Whitecaps are star-crossed.
They had the better of the game against the Columbus Crew on Wednesday evening yet still came away with a 1-0 defeat.
Despite being without Hassli and Chiumiento the team looked to be in a very different mood than the previous games in Toronto. They pressed Columbus from the off, with Camilo in particular looking dangerous, and deserved to go in at half-time with a lead. The fact that they didn’t is testimony to a continuing failing amongst this group of players to finish off an opponent when they are vulnerable. Columbus were on the ropes but the knockout blow was never delivered.
One puzzling aspect of the Tom Soehn reign has been that the team frequently make a slow start to the second half, and they did so again on Wednesday, giving Columbus added heart in what was a much more even 45 minutes.
Luck seemed to be on Vancouver’s side in the 73rd minute when they were awarded a penalty-kick for one of those holding in the box offences that almost never gets punished, but Terry Dunfield hit a weak shot that was easily saved. Four minutes later it got worse when Shea Salinas was red carded, somewhat harshly, for a high challenge. Almost inevitably Columbus got the winner in the final minute of the game meaning that Vancouver have now lost four straight games and can forget any lingering hopes of a play-off spot.
The overall play was encouraging with quick movement and more willingness to shoot, from the midfield especially, but it seems as though the killer instinct that they need is going to be hard to instill into this group of players and is something that will somehow have to be addressed in the coming transfer window.
Allowing Dunfield to take the penalty however, was curious in the extreme.
After the game Soehn said that Eric Hassli was the regular spot kicker so he let the senior players on the field make the decision as to who would take the kick. That kind of decision needs to be decided before the game; corners and free-kicks are designated to specific players in training during the week so it’s odd that such an important task was left to the whim of who felt most confident it at the time.
Fate may have been against them but, once again, the Whitecaps played no small part in their own demise.
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