Are the Whitecaps a big deal? Or just a bunch of posers set for an early offseason? With four games to go, it's time for the players -- not just the coach -- to make their case.There's not much worth discussing about the Vancouver Whitecaps' Saturday meltdown against the Real Salt Lake reserves.
A 1-0 loss, with no heart, no conviction and with so much at stake in the tight Western Conference playoff race just doesn't seem to make much sense.
Some of the themes of the defeat will be very familiar to those who follow the team closely. Lack of imagination in midfield, an inconsistent performance from the attacking unit – all culminating in a one-goal defeat as captain Jay DeMerit lost his marker and perhaps goalkeeper David Ousted hesitated to come for the decisive ball into the box.
But that's all done now, and now the team must focus on the task at hand. It must force the demons of the weekend's defeat out of mind, and zero in on taking down two Cascadia rivals in back to back games, starting with this Saturday against the Portland Timbers.
Then it's home and away matches against the Colorado Rapids to end the season.
Even the zealously optimistic types have already started making arrangements for the funeral, and the firing of head coach Martin Rennie is considered by many a matter of when more than a matter of if.
Of course, playoff qualification will save the Scotsman's job – in the man's own words a couple of weeks ago, “winning solves everything.”
Indeed it does, and if Rennie's charges can pull of three wins from the last four matches, that should be enough to secure a second consecutive playoff showing for the 'Caps.
Three wins from four is difficult in any circumstances, let alone a situation where at least one of those wins will have to come on the road.
The odds are certainly not in Vancouver's favour, but quite frankly this four-game spell is why we all watch sports.
If the stats wizards and bookies determined the winners beforehand, we'd lose interest very quickly.
So let's see what these players can do. Let's see if captain Jay DeMerit can add another chapter to his intriguing underdog career. Let's see if Kenny Miller can come back from his abductor problem and play as well as he has done at certain points earlier this season.
Let's see Camilo score a screamer from a set play just outside the box, and Gershon Koffie score a goal from distance from the run of play.
How about a pinpoint Russell Teibert corner kick met by the head of one of the team's big centre backs?
These players have it within themselves to qualify, but they'll need to show it in the weeks to come.
And while Rennie gets plenty of criticism on this site and other outlets at various junctures, it's players who play games and there have been more than a few on this squad who have failed to show up for each other or their coach in recent times – not to even speak of the fans who pay their hard earned cash to show up to games with their kids.
The time for anything but getting results is over.
There are plenty of players on this squad who think they're all that, but in the context of world football have accomplished very little – and on the balance of things look set to continue to waddle in mediocrity.
To those players relishing in the greatness looking back in the mirror, here are some numbers that might be of interest.
Two wins in your last 11.
Four points out of the last playoff spot.
Shutout four of your last seven matches.
Four games to go.
You're a big deal? Prove it.