They say April showers bring May flowers but it was the opposite for the Vancouver Whitecaps. After a (mostly) good April, the Whitecaps are winless in May. That includes two straight losses.

It looked like they were on the verge of losing again and Whitecaps Twitter would have spent the night being mad as hell and not taking it anymore. But on this rainy Seattle Saturday night, they got a bit of luck and stole a point. Forget Ocean’s 11, this is Vanni’s 11. They just pulled a heist Danny Ocean would be proud of.

In two games at Lumen Field, the Whitecaps have four points. It is a tough place for any visiting team to win so that is something. It was a game that was boring and pretty painful to watch. At any point during it, you probably felt like Patrick falling asleep to the Squidward playing Solitude in E Minor on his clarinet.

It could’ve been worse!

What we learned

The Whitecaps got off to a start that was less than ideal. Yohei Takoaka made the save on Jordan Morris’ initial shot. However, some poor defensive positioning made Morris slot in the rebound. Cue the oof sound effect.

But the Whitecaps got better after conceding. There was some good build-up play led by Ryan Gauld and Fafa Picault. However, the final third play was lacking and despite three shots on target, Stefan Frei didn’t have to make a difficult save.

Andre Cubas aka Paraguyan N’Golo Kante was bossing it. He was running back and making some great tackles, interceptions and passes. Where would Vancouver be without him? I don’t want to think about it. Cubas was a beast, a monster, a savage and any other metaphor the culture can imagine.

The second half was hard to watch. It was harder to watch than the movie American Beauty or worse, Requiem For A Dream. At least those were good flicks despite the grotesque content.

To make things worse, Cubas had to come off for Sebastian Berhalter in the 54th minute due to an ankle injury. Given that the Whitecaps have another busy week coming up, that is a massive loss.

The Whitecaps had trouble getting possession for most of the half. The press was virtually non-existent. Cristian Roldan, Joao Paolo and Nouhou in particular made life hell for Vancouver. They were suffocating the Whitecaps to the point where they were hemmed in their own half and had trouble breaking out. When the Whitecaps did have possession, they lost the ball easily.

Fortunately, towards the end of the match, there was some life in the Whitecaps end. But again, the final third was the Achilles heel. Crosses weren’t reaching heads and there were poor touches in the box. Sebastian Berhalter tried a shot on Frei from distance late and the veteran goalkeeper had to make his first (and only) tough save of the match.

However, the Whitecaps got some luck. Nouhou blocked Berhalter’s shot in stoppage time but it hit his arm. Referee Victor Rivas did go to VAR and eventually awarded a penalty to Vancouver. Of course, Gauld stepped up and scored. That’s one of the things The Flying Scotsman does best. Nouhou got sent off. That was harsh mainly because it did not feel like a direct denial of a goal-scoring oppurtunity. But much like Bjorn Inge Utvik on Wednesday against the Colorado Rapids, he was sent off because that was part of the rules.

But here’s the puzzling thing. Javain Brown had his arm on the ball in the box a few minutes earlier. Like Nouhou, it looked like he was trying to move his arm out of the way. However, Vargas did not call a penalty or even have a look at VAR. Why? We’ll never know.

But nonetheless, the Whitecaps will take it. Another loss would have been a very tough pill to swallow.

Stat of the match

Expected goals were 0.95 to 0.83 in favour of Vancouver according to FotMob. It looks like that was mainly due to the Whitecaps having five shots on target on eight total shots. The Sounders had 12 shots but only two on target.

What was said

Vanni Sartini was pleased with the draw, especially with the first half but not the second.

“I’m very proud of the fact that we stayed in the game for the entire duration,” said the Whitecaps head coach. “I think that the tie is fair for what we did in the first half. In the second half, the effort made us deserve the tie, but we could have done better offensively for sure in the second half.”

Sartini mentioned that his team needed to be better in the final third. I asked him what that meant specifically.

“The first thing, I think we were too pensive, hasty, I don’t know the word,” said Sartini. “A lot of the times we received the ball behind the line and we had space to go at them. We wanted to play the final pass immediately or the short pass immediately, so that’s the one thing. The second thing is the occupation. Today I think the wide players where have to be very wide….when we are in the final third and the opposite side…let’s say we are playing on the right side, the left side player needs to attack and the left side number eight needs to attack.

“I think we were we were unable to do that run properly because we were playing back to back to back. It’s very demanding to do it every time but that’s what we need to do better we need to occupy more of the box.”

“I think in the first half although you know we conceded early on, we actually played pretty well,” said Gauld. “We had a lot of the ball, we didn’t create too much but I feel like we were kind of in control of the game a wee bit. Then second half, I feel like they stepped it up a gear. They were able to move the ball better than they did in the first half and made things tough for us and I think we’re just happy to come out with a point.”

“Yeah, it’s been a tough run of games the past 10 days or so,” said Gauld when I asked about how much of a boost the point can be. “We’ve still got quite a few Saturday [and] Wednesday games left. It’s important to try and get as many points as we can. Obviously, off the back of two poor results and three games without scoring, it’s nice to get a point on the board and get a goal. Hopefully, we can look forward from here.”

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Cubas is already signed until 2026 and it is great he has chosen to play his prime years in Vancouver. Honestly, he already has become a legend.

Best insomnia cure

Not just for the Whitecaps, the Sounders also had trouble creating chances as well. Thank goodness for coffee.

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At least the Whitecaps salvaged something at the end, unlike the Canucks. I am very nervous for Game 7 against the Oilers. Yes, the Whitecaps also lacked intensity and it was painful to watch. Well, until the end.

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Gotta love rivalries in MLS, they usually have some controversy in them. It makes great entertainment at least.

Best accepting reality

The Whitecaps will be fine. Well, hopefully. As I said before, they are not an elite team yet. But if they do the right things in the summer transfer window? They can be. The hot start was nice but was it sustainable? Definitely not.

Best Ikea Deal

I imagine this is how Sartini looked like when he was leaving Lumen Field. Though he would have yelled: “Start the bus!” instead of “Start the car!”

Also, seeing that GIF brought back memories. I remember seeing that IKEA commercial a lot back in the day. When I watched it when I was a kid, I didn’t understand why that lady was so happy and now I do.

Here it is below.

Wrap up

Hopefully, this point marks the end of the slump the Whitecaps are going through. Maybe this was just a rain storm and the clouds are clearing up.

Up next is the Canadian Championship Quarterfinal leg against Cavalry. Vancouver is up 2-1 on aggregate and it takes place Tuesday at BC Place. Kickoff is at 7:30 pm Pacific.

After that, is a game Whitecaps fans have circled on the calendar since the schedule was released. On Saturday, May 25, Inter Miami comes to town. It is Julian Gressel’s return to BC Place and over 50,000 people will get a chance to see that Lionel Messi guy everyone is talking about. He’s a really big deal. 

It seems likely he’ll play. He did suffer a left knee injury and missed Inter Miami’s 0-0 Wednesday draw against Orlando City SC. However, he did play the full 90 plus on Saturday as Inter Miami beat DC United 1-0. Kickoff is at 7:30 pm Pacific as well.