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  • Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy? - Vancouver Whitecaps say it's inevitable the goals will come, it's just a matter of time and getting the breaks

    Michael Mccoll

    Or are they right?

    Have the Whitecaps not been getting some decisions of late? Are the football gods still angry at games being played on fake grass under a closed roof? (Or is that just me?) Is all it is going to take is getting in the groove and then just watch these uncoiled springs go?

    I’m a firm believer that you make your own luck in football, and life. Every team can look back at the decisions that didn’t go their way, the calls they didn’t get, and of course some of them can cost matches and vital points. Are the Caps just getting a spell of these calls of late or are they simply not good enough to be fighting for the postseason this year and that makes for a good deflector?

    It is understandable why the Caps might be feeling this way. One thing has looked certain and that is that Sebastian Fernandez can’t seem to get a penalty call go in his favour to save his life. He was taken down in the box during the second half in Portland on Saturday when the score was still 1-0. That could certainly have been not just a game changer, but a playoff one.

    Simon Borg and the boys at MLS’ Instant Replay have certainly felt that the Whitecaps had been hard done by of late and although Caps coach Carl Robinson wouldn’t be drawn too much on the issue, he did point to their analysis.

    "I watch the Instant Replays and listen to their opinions and they're brilliant," Robinson told reporters at training on Tuesday. "Sometimes I agree and sometimes I don't know and I watch it, and it's two weeks now that the guys think that we should have had a penalty. We haven't and that's not masking over a disappointing performance for us. So we've got to move on and we will move on.

    "I think we're not getting that many breaks at the moment as I would like but that's no excuse."

    So is Seba paying the price for simulation earlier in the season, including that infamous face holding one in Portland in June that saw him land a one match ban?

    "Maybe. I'm not sure. I hope not," Robinson said. "I know referees have been told that if there's some simulation they must book players. In the last two games I think we've seen it against us as well, a little bit of simulation and refs usually do clamp down on it. I don't think that if anyone thinks anyone is diving or cheating or trying to gain an unfair advantage they should book them and if they don't it's a free kick. It's a very fine line."

    But bad breaks and bounces seemed to genuinely be how some of the Whitecaps players are seeing things right now and that the luck will change soon and the goals will start to go in and the points will go on the board. Never mind the horrible defending, uncreative midfield and impotent attack.

    When Russell Teibert was asked how the team viewed some of the goals that the Caps had been conceding of late, he didn't agree that there was a trend of poor marking and poor tracking back.

    "A fluke goal like the one in Dallas. How can you talk about that?," Teibert responded. "It's one of those things that sometimes the ball doesn't bounce your way. Then we're in Portland, we're dominating the game and Valeri gets free and he hits a cracker that ends up in the back of the net.

    "Sometimes the ball bounces for the other team, sometimes the ball bounces your way and unfortunately for the past couple of games, the ball hasn't bounced in our favour. That's how sport is sometimes, that's how professional soccer is and you have to battle through it.

    "Maybe teams that don't have the locker room that we have, that don't have the belief that we have, would give up. But this locker room has a lot of belief, has a lot of character and we'll push through the tough times. We know we're going to make our way out of it."

    When your team’s in a rut, you like to think that it’s all going to turn around. Everything’s going to be just fine in the end if you have a little faith and believe. Unless you’ve had 30 years of watching and supporting East Fife. Then you know it’s all fucked. I imagine TFC fans must feel the same.

    Believing you're going to get out it and actually doing what you need to do to get out of it are two different things altogether. Can the Whitecaps do that? Do they have the personnel to do that right now?

    "I think fans, us, the coaching staff all expect that at some point it's going to go in, right?" Steven Beitashour responded when asked if fans were just to grab onto the hope that things will change for the better soon and the necessary goals will come if they just keep the faith.

    Getting some of those calls to go the Whitecaps way would undoubtedly have helped in some games, but so would goals, and plenty of them. They can't rely on getting favourable calls to save their season, and nor should they according to goalkeeper David Ousted, who took a more realistic view on the recent bad beat stories.

    "I'm looking forward to the last five games, we've got a lot of decisions coming our way," Ousted joked at training when he was asked it the Whitecaps were due some luck. "It always evens out at the end of the season and I think it will.

    "We can't look at decisions not given or referees. We need to look at ourselves and if we're at it. If we can see after the game that we didn't get a decision or whatever it is, then we'll take it from there. But we have to put in a performance. We can't let the referee do it for us.

    "I still think everybody believes in this. We can make it in. I think Portland will drop points and we will be there to pick up those two points that we're behind."

    But the only way to do that is to get goals, goals and more goals. Maybe just five will do. One goal a week to secure three points a week. It is possible, but even managing one a game from the team right now is looking a little far fetched to many. Not Russell Teibert though, who felt that Vancouver played really well for the first 30 minutes down in Portland before fading.

    "I know you guys might be tired of hearing that and the end product is what we've been lacking recently, but we've scored goals all year long and it's inevitable that we're going to score goals until the end of the season. It's going to happen. It's bound to happen.

    "I can't tell you when. It could be this weekend. We could score four or five, we could score one or two. We know it's going to happen at some point. These are the times that are the most exciting. It's a big game for us this weekend against Salt Lake. No matter what happens in the week before we're putting it past us and we're looking forward."

    It's good not to have negativity in the dressing room and if the players don't believe in themselves, then no-one else is going to, but there also needs to be a dose of reality mixed in there as well. It may not make your life as happy, but it has to be done. No-one is expecting the players to come out and say "we're pretty crap up front" and yes, that wouldn't help anyone, but there has to be more offered than just blind faith.

    The fans are alright with having faith and hope, they just need to see Whitecaps players taking advantage of some charitable defences to help them keep it. Vancouver players and management are all saying the right things, now they need to back their words up with actions.

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