Just like Vancouver’s captain Jay DeMerit tied the knot this past weekend, I am also scheduled to exchange “I dos” in Whistler in a couple of weeks. Maybe this is why I have the idea of ‘big days’ and ‘big occasions’ on my mind.
The Vancouver Whitecaps had a big day, a big match and a big occasion last Saturday in their clash against the Los Angeles Galaxy and, unfortunately they continued the line that has characterized most of their MLS tenure: they were, once again, unable to get it done in the big game.
Now, don’t get me wrong, progress has certainly been made this season. Yes, both Seattle and the same Galaxy team have succumbed at BC Place for the first time in MLS history. Those were encouraging signs. Those were the “big games” then. However, a strong argument can be made that this final stretch of the 2013 campaign is filled with “bigger big games” and, based on what we have seen in the last couple of games and if we are foolish enough to trust the stats, things are not boding well for the Whitecaps.
Last Saturday was another wasted opportunity for the Whitecaps to solidify themselves on and off the pitch in both the city and the league. The boys in Blue and White sat in second place of the Western Conference just two weeks ago. Now, after two straight defeats against Western Conference opponents, they have plummeted down the table and are looking up at almost everyone else from seventh place.
The weather ended up cooperating and the atmosphere at BC place was great. Another sold out crowd gathered to watch the “soccer” team battle the two-time defending champs in what was perhaps their last opportunity to make a big impact on the psyche of the casual fan before their minds get distracted and clouded with the return of hockey, which is just around the corner.
At an individual level, big games also present big opportunities for players to make a difference and raise their hand for consideration in the starting XI. Unfortunately for Darren Mattocks, his opportunity went by and he was unable to grab onto it with both hands.
In such a tight race within a strong conference, every single remaining game will be crucial. Each game will have a big impact in the team’s position in the table. All but one of the final games will be against Western Conference opponents (the other one is versus Montreal, currently sitting on top of the Eastern Conference). With a current record of 4-7-5 against Western opponents, the final month of the season will be both an uphill battle and key in determining the success of the 2013 campaign.
Landon Donovan said at the end of Saturday’s match “that’s the kind of game that champions win”. As arrogant and pedantic as this comment is, the man has a point. And unfortunately it doesn’t seem that the Vancouver Whitecaps are close to being able to win these kinds of games. Then again, the boys have an important month to shut my big mouth. And nothing will make me happier.
Big days and big occasions can be stressful but, more importantly, are to be enjoyed – every single minute of them, because they don’t come around often. This is exactly what I plan to do on my own upcoming big day.