VANCOUVER, B.C. – They may be leading the way in the standings, but two months into the season, it's hard to really know just what kind of team the Vancouver Whitecaps will end up being this year.
We've seen the good and the bad side of the 'Caps so far. They've played poorly but won. They've played fantastic and lost.
They seem to have found a winning formula on the road, yet have dropped eight points from their five home games and have attracted cards like a magnet.
It's definitely been a season of ups and downs for Vancouver so far, and coach Carl Robinson doesn't expect that to change any time soon.
"I think you'll see that throughout the year, if I'm brutally honest," Robinson told reporters after training on Tuesday. "On our day, we've shown that we can compete with the best -- the best being the LAs and Salt Lakes and Portlands. We've [also] shown that if our levels aren't right, then we can be beaten by teams that probably aren't expected to do much this year."
So, if Robinson were to sum up his 2015 Vancouver Whitecaps in one sentence, what would it be?
"Fun to watch," was his first answer before jokingly adding, "Might win, might lose, which is not good for me. Real fun to watch."
Inconsistent is perhaps the most apt descriptor, with Vancouver's best all-round performance coming in the 2-0 win against the LA Galaxy at the start of April. That game showed exactly what the Whitecaps are capable of: free flowing, attacking soccer with a solid defensive core.
The key for Vancouver is to reach those levels on a more regular basis. As much as his hope had been for the 'Caps to be in their stride and to have established their identity by this stage of the season, Robinson is the first to admit his team are still very much a work in progress.
"Consistency's a big thing, which I knew it would be this year, and as it was last year," Robinson said. "We need to be more consistent this year than we were last year, and after nine games I think we are. I'm still not resting on my laurels. We've had a good start, but we can get better because we have dropped silly points. Hopefully once we find our groove, at home especially, we'll be OK."
Robinson points to Vancouver's Cascadia rivals down in Seattle as to what he is striving for with his side, highlighting their six consecutive playoff appearances and their ability to find ways to win when things are going against them.
But he's happy with his team, and confidence remains sky-high among players, who all seem to be feeling that there is "something special" brewing in Vancouver this season.
"I think we're a team heading in the right direction," goalkeeper David Ousted said. "There's still work to be done, and I still feel we have a lot to improve on, but we're still in a great position after these nine games. We've shown in glimpses the kind of soccer we can play, and if we can get that consistency and just figure out those little ifs and buts, especially at home, you're going to see a really strong Whitecaps team this year."