“Gutsy performance”, “Great effort”, and “Hard-fought”. These are some of the descriptors that I have heard and read about the Whitecaps most recent road performance that earned them an away 0-0 draw versus San Jose last Saturday. As fans, we have heard other accolades like “great ball possession”, “earned a clean sheet” and “it is a turn in the right direction”.
I think it is the last one that really irritates me the most. Don’t get me wrong, at this point, not losing on the road is a welcome development. But, considering ‘not losing’ to be a good result is a sad matter in itself. However, I digress. The idea of having a decent “non-loss” result as a “turn in the right direction” is preposterous, especially at this point of the season.
You see, the Whitecaps andtheir loyal fan base do not have time for them to start turning in the right direction on their road form. At this point, we need them to get as many wins as possible, at home and on the road. With six games remaining in the season, a position five points out of playoff contention, and a very difficult schedule with visits to Montreal, Seattle and Colorado and home games against Portland, RSL and Colorado, the Blue and White have to starting adding by 3s if they hope to make it to the playoffs for a second straight season.
I think the frustration is seeded in the fact that the arguments to defend a road draw like the ones opening this article are acceptable for a team in the first third of the campaign and not in the final stretch when, ideally, the team has had almost a full season to find and figure themselves out. It makes us wonder what the team has learned and developed since February when pre-season started?
Why are we still talking in these terms today? Now it is too late. At this point, the form should be there. More importantly, hearing ourselves talking like this makes me think that the mentality of this team has not completely changed. We are still rewarding and masking mediocre results. We are still not a team where excellence and wins are demanded and expected. We do not have a winning mentality.
But, perhaps it is my fault. Maybe I am the one who is wrong and created unrealistic expectations and a false image for the 2013 Whitecaps incarnation. At the end of the day, the results and the number of points speak for themselves and bring us back to a sobering reality where the Vancouver Whitecaps have not been good enough and they have been unable to keep up with the development of their Western Conference rivals. Sports is a result-driven business. The number of points and positioning in the table is a fair and a true representation of the reality of each team.
I am conflicted. On one hand my head is telling me to wrap it up and start thinking about 2014 (I have renewed my season tickets after all). On the other hand, my heart, my foolish, foolish heart, still screams at me that there is time, that they are mathematically not dead… that there is still hope.
One of them is wrong. Deep down I know which one I wish is wrong and which one I think is most likely right.
What do you think?