If you think you can hear a faint beeping noise in the distance, fear not, as it is most likely just the sound of WFC2 backing into a playoff spot.
A day after having their first ever USL playoff spot confirmed by Orange County’s 1-0 loss to Rio Grande, Vancouver continued it’s half season long slump in a 2-0 home loss to Portland Timbers 2. Nico Brett and Villyan Bijev capitalized on a pair of first half mistakes from WFC2 enroute to their first win in four tries over their Cascadian rivals this season.
“Obviously we’re lucky to have clinched a playoff spot because we haven’t really been playing well the last ten games,” said WFC2 captain Kyle Greig. “I think we really need to take advantage of the game [at home to Oklahoma City] on Wednesday and try to get some momentum going into the playoffs.”
The ten game stretch Greig was referring to was one that includes a single win in their last ten, but the run of poor form can be traced all the way back to mid season. Since topping the table with 15 matches played, WFC2 have only one three times over the last two and a half months
Nico Brett took advantage of an out of sorts WFC2 team in the 13th as he received a quick free kick to the left of the box before cutting inside and beating Marco Carducci at the near post.
The sloppiness continued in the 43rd as Cole Seiler and Carducci got their signals crossed, allowing an easy tap in for Bijev just before the half.
In addition to the defensive lapses, the offense looked unimaginative at best. Greig was denied by Kendall McIntosh in the 5th as the Portland keeper closed down well and again in the 93rd but that was about the extent of the chances for what was an offensive juggernaut early in the year.
The match was essentially a 90 minute microcosm of the team’s struggles over the last two months, and has left many wondering whether the excitement about making their first ever playoff appearance will be short lived.
“We’re going to have to, we don’t have a choice” was head coach Alan Koch’s response to whether his team could turn it around. “We’ve got to put our best foot forward on Wednesday and get over this, learn from this [...] and try to get a more positive result on Wednesday so that we can go into the playoffs with a little bit of confidence.”
Despite the loss, which almost guarantees they will miss out on hosting a home playoff game, the turnaround from last season is one to behold. Sometimes overshadowed by the team’s recent struggles is how far they have come from last season, one in which they finished second from the bottom in the West.
“Immensely proud of the group this year, but also very very proud of how we’ve done over the last two years,” said Koch.
“Obviously we put the program together at the beginning of last year and had our ups and downs, a lot of downs in that first year, but we regrouped at the end of last season, reflected on it and have come out with a much much better prospect this year as a team.”