Our first reflection piece of the new season and the new era.
It’s always important to take a step back and reflect on the weekend in the cold light of day.
In this case, it’s just important to not get too carried away.
The Whitecaps win against Toronto on Saturday put the team at the top of the table on Saturday night. A result and position many would only have predicted in their wildest dreams.
There are still 33 regular season games left though and pretty much every one of them is going to be a tougher prospect for us than Saturday was.
Toronto FC appear to be a team in perpetual rebuilding. It’s like the footballing equivalent of the Winchester mystery house.
On both coasts, pundits weren’t expecting much from TFC and that’s what they got. They were a poor side, that already seem to lack attacking ideas, bizarrely playing possession football at the back at one stage of the match whilst trailing.
To Vancouver, Toronto are really just an irrelevance when it comes to League action. The Voyaguers Cup is a whole other matter entirely.
For MLS though, the big test will be when Vancouver come up against one of our playoff contenders. That’s the post season for any TFC fans that may be reading this. I’m sure you must have heard about it.
There were so many positives for Caps fans to take from Saturday’s game, but also some concerns that need to be addressed quickly.
Here at AFTN, we were amongst the many wondering where the goals were going to come from. By committtee was the standard thought and it certainly does look like they could come from all over the pitch.
Eric Hassli though looks the real deal up front. An absolute beast. He’s everything we were told he could be and more. His build, his strength and his control will tide him and us well in this League. It’ll be a few games before our opponents are going to be able to work out how to play him and then when they do, I wouldn’t be surprised if he has an extra trick or two up his sleeve.
Then there’s his finishing. Sorely lacking last season, we now seem to have a proven goalscorer that knows where the net is and how to find it regularly. First game I know. I’ve seen many players bang in goals on their debuts over the years and then do not much else. You’re not going to get that designated player weight off your shoulders in much better style than with a brace on your debut though.
If only the same could be said for Atiba Harris. In the pre-season games and on Saturday, his build up play and control is great but his finishing at times is woeful. If he had taken the chances gifted to him, we could have had a scoreline of 7 or 8 by the end of it all.
Hopefully this will come and gametime will iron out these kinks but he needs to get the confidence to shoot more. Hopefully the goal he did get will help provide him with that.
Davide Chiumento look outstanding and was at the heart of everything in the first half before his injury. What was pleasing to see was that even when he went off, the shape and flair of the team was still there.
Terry Dunfield also had a fantastic game, especially in the first half. He was so fired up. With someone like him in the team, we don’t need to worry about the players not showing the passion for the jersey. I’m sure if anyone did, he’d be the first to tell them!
For the long season we have ahead, especially with the Voyaguers Cup games and hopefully Champions League games, we need to have some strength in depth and we seem to have that in a lot of key areas, but there are some gaps that could leave us struggling if players are out injured or away on international duty.
Losing the two goals was disappointing. There wasn’t a lot that could have been done with the second strike, but the first was certainly preventable.
As long as we go for the Kevin Keegan-esque scoring one more than the opposition tactics then that works fine by me!
Our defence was very strong last season and looked good, on the whole, for the pre-season, so I wouldn’t be too worried about frailties there just yet.
Set pieces, especially corner kicks, could do with some more telling deliveries. There were a lot of wasted balls coming in.
On the plus side, at least we had plenty to gauge this on and didn’t have to wait until the 90th minute to get our first corner!!!
Our AFTN 3-2-1 for the game was:
3 points – Eric Hassli
2 points – Terry Dunfield
1 point – Davide Chiumiento
Overall, it was a fantastic team performance and all the guys should take pride in that.
Empire Field looked majestic. It was a magnificent setting. We already mentioned the fans yesterday but our temporary home also deserves a lot of credit for the atmosphere created.
Line ups were horrendous for food, beer and merchandise. The former two were the same for Lions games, so I don’t know if there is any way this can be fixed but it was pleasing to see the fans clamouring for anything Whitecaps related to proudly wear.
What a day. But the hard work starts now. Game two could shape our season. How will we set our stall our for away games? Will missing players be key?
Can’t wait to find out.
Mon the Caps.