In The Cold Light of Day: Whitecaps Rise To The Occasion

Vancouver’s first Cascadia Cup match of the MLS era is in the bag and it was a tremendous occasion enjoyed by all of the travelling Caps hordes.

At the end of it all, a draw was probably a fair result, but as we trooped out of Qwest Field after the game, the over-riding feeling was that we should be heading up the road with all three points and not just the one we got.

Throwing away the win so late was what hurt, but if you’d have offered me a draw before the match, I’d have gladly taken it with the way we’ve been playing the last few games.

We asked for passion, fight and commitment from the players and for the first time in many a week, we got 90 full minutes of it.

Every player, to a man, was up for the cause.

The supporters were too, although more on that later.

On the pitch, we were really clicking and it was good to see. We all know what the players are capable off and we’ve been desperately needing them to show it to us.
On Saturday they did.

We could easily have been out of sight in the first half if we’d taken our chances. Shea Salinas should have buried it when he was baring down on the keeper, but coulda, shoulda, woulda. Seattle also had their chances that they didn’t take.

The defence were impressively solid for most of the match and that’s what makes it even more frustrating that it was two defensive lapses that cost us so dearly.

Joe Cannon should have done better on the first goal. He was caught in two minds between coming for the ball and staying on his line and was punished accordingly. Can’t hold that against him too much though when you consider the fantastic string of saves he produced throughout the match to keep our lead intact.

The second goal should never have been allowed to happen and the defence just need to blooter to ball out of play or up the pitch in those occasions.

Two lapses but overall a great display from the back line. Jay DeMerit was a beast out there and I thought Mouloud Akloul had his best game in a MLS Caps jersey so far. The difference between having Jonathan Leather back there and Bilal Duckett was also night and day.

Alain Rochat used his experience well to kill time and win some free kicks, but he was also extremely lucky I felt not to pick up a second yellow towards the end.

One of the most pleasing aspects for me was that we didn’t just sit back and defend the lead – because we can’t. It may be a new regime, but it’s the same players and they just don’t seem to know how to keep a lead.

Soehn seems to have recognised that and kept the attacking play in the second half, at least when Seattle let us play.

Another very pleasing aspect was that our heads didn’t go down when the Sounders took the lead. To fight back immediately was magical, in many ways.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bLZucVVEMP4?rel=0&hd=1&w=500&h=314]As someone said on the Southsiders forum, time seemed to stand still for a split second.

At the game, I knew we’d scored but it took a good few seconds for it to fully comprehend what had just happened as I couldn’t quite get my head around how Eric Hassli scored from where he did. I saw him walk away with his hand up and then it sank in and the ecstatic scenes followed.

It was a sublime moment.

Hassli had an excellent game but really is needing some help up there from an out and out proven goalscorer. Hopefully that will be number one priority when the transfer window re-opens next month.

In saying that, a commanding figure in the middle of the park to help share the workload with Gershon Koffie is also badly needed.

We’re so close to having a truly competitive team and we certainly showed we can compete well for those first eighty minutes.

Those final ten minutes were just a bagatelle for emotions. Going in to the game, I didn’t expect much but the players responded magnificently and for that I salute every one of them.

Seattle have now taken only two points from their home Cascadia Cup games. This could cost them dearly, especially if we can go and grab something down in Portland in August.

The Cup could be coming home to Vancouver.

Let’s hope the Caps also build on this performance for the remainder of the season, starting this Saturday against Philadelphia.

** See AFTN’s Flickr page for our photos from the match **

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Authored by: Michael McColl

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