When the 2016 WFC2 season is looked back upon in future years, it will be remembered for a number of things. The least of which will be the team’s 3-0 loss to Swope Park in the USL Conference Finals, which ended the team’s season on Saturday.
Instead, we’ll remember the moment that 15 year-old Alphonso Davies arrived on the scene, and the kid’s unbridled joy of scoring his first professional goal.
We’ll reminisce about the time Brett Levis showed Crystal Palace what USL opponents had been dealing with for the last two years.
Or the time Thomas Sanner, all 6’4” of him, scored the team’s first ever hat trick, in Langley of all places, to cap a second half comeback.
Last of all, we’ll notice that it all ended with a lopsided loss to the fourth seeded Rangers in Swope Park. Kris Tyrpak’s pair of first half goals insured that WFC2’s fairytale season would not get to write one final chapter while Dane Kelly added to his USL all-time goals lead with a late goal on the counter attack.
For those that missed the individual moments that made up the 2016 season, the proof will still be there on paper. A year after scraping together 30 points and finishing second last in the conference, Alan Koch was able to guide the new look team to a fifteen point improvement and a historic first playoff berth.
Koch’s guiding hand should be remembered as a crucial factor in the team’s turnaround. Despite being at the mercy of the MLS team, Koch was able to accomplish the preseason goal of making the playoffs, all the while overseeing the development of a stable of youngsters, some of whom can’t even legally drink yet.
While there were bumps that were experienced along the way, including the massive struggles throughout the second half of the season, the second season of WFC2’s existence should be celebrated, and I presume will be celebrated, down the road as a massive building block from which the organization was able to build off of.
The team will surely have a sour taste in their mouth as they watch Swope Park, a team they beat twice during the regular season, celebrate a Western Conference Championship, but hopefully the bigger picture will not be overlooked. Eventually the bitter feelings should give way to the realization that they not only surpassed everyone’s expectations, but also provided a ray of light for an otherwise dark season for the Whitecaps and their supporters.
The season may have ended with a whimper, but by no means will this team be going home with their tails between their legs.