In The Cold Light Of Day: Cannon Gives Houston A Problem

What a difference a week makes.

Or should that be, what a difference playing at home makes.

The Caps wrapped up their fourth win of the season yesterday and although they were maybe fortunate to get the three points in the end, you can’t grudge them the win for the way they kept fighting till the end.

You can read our full match report of the game over on Prost Amerika.

It seemed like another game where they just wouldn’t catch a break. Fruitless goalmouth scrambles and the woodwork looked like being their story of the Whitecaps afternoon.

Houston must have felt that their first away win of the season was coming. Instead, they are left with the ignominy of still searching for their first road victory, along with ourselves and Toronto.

The Dynamo’s failure and the Whitecaps success can largely be placed at the feet of Joe Cannon.

The veteran goalie was in outstanding form on Saturday. World class save, after world class save, probably laid to rest for the last time this season the debate as to who Vancouver number one goalkeeper is. The job is now Joe’s till the end of this year, at least. After that, who knows what Martin Rennie’s regime will bring.

Joe had to be at his best to keep out some of the Houston efforts.

There were only a few defensive lapses, which was pleasing to see. Whether the centre half partnership of Jay DeMerit and Alain Rochat is going to be our way forward, I don’t know. I think we can be pretty certain that that’s what it’s going to be under the rest of Soehn’s tenure. It still leaves us looking a little weak in the back positions, especially on the right.

We managed to keep the Dynamo to long range efforts for the majority of the game and Carlo Costly was not even a feature of the afternoon. All positives.

Our own firepower missed the suspended Camilo.

It was a bit of a frustrating afternoon for Eric Hassli, as he was forced into more of the creative role that saw his form dip earlier in the season.

We still haven’t seen the best of Mustapha Jarju. I don’t think playing as a striker is going to be his future with us. Playing in the middle, or even just in behind the front two, is surely the way that Rennie will play him to see him at his most effective.

It’s already starting to look like a crowded midfield for next season.

We’re going to struggle to fit in everyone we might want, and if Rennie has his eyes on any midfield dynamos of his own, then we could see someone like Chiumiento or Koffie sacrificed in a trade.

The game turned on Saturday with the introduction of subbies Shea Salinas and Long Tan.

There’s not been many times this season where we can say that we’ve improved our game by bringing on subs. Every other team seems to have the advantage over us in this respect, but finally it was our turn.

Both were magnificent.

It was very pleasing to see Shea Salinas finally pop his Vancouver cherry. A goal from the winger has been on the cards for weeks. It’s just been a matter of when was it coming. Saturday was that day, and you could see the joy and relief written all over his face afterwards. He took it well and he showed the composure and guile that has been missing in many of his other efforts on goal, to bury it coolly and clinically into the bottom right hand corner.

It was also a very well worked move.

Having a hand in it was Long Tan.

I’ll be the first to admit I’ve been skeptical that Tan has what it takes to make it in MLS. He has proved me wrong.

Watching him develop in the reserves and PDL matches has been one of the few joys of this season when it comes to our players.

The PDL is all about development and he’s taken his chance to the max. Banging in the goals like he has been, is not going to keep you in the wilderness for long. He has developed his game, and added scoring to his build up touch that he has always shown.

I don’t think Tan is anywhere near ready to be a starter, but he’s definitely an impact sub and, to my eyes, should be well ahead of Salgado in the pecking order.

It’s the same with Salinas.

I think his best role for us is to come off the bench, much like what Nizar Khalfan was offering us earlier in the season before he just seemed to lose it completely.

Shea’s best games for us have been when given a run in the final quarter of the match.

So as we keep saying after every win. Can we go on a build on that?

In all honesty, New York and LA Galaxy away makes you think no, but I do fancy us to give Seattle and Portland a run for their money in the last two Cascadia Cup matches here.

We also have New England and Toronto in our sights for avoiding last place.

It’s scant consolation for a horrible season, but if we can avoid having the worst team record in MLS history, avoid being last in the 2011 season, finish above Toronto and land the Cascadia Cup, then I’ll take that as a success.

Mon the Caps.

Authored by: Michael McColl

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