VANCOUVER – It's still mathematically possible for the Vancouver Whitecaps to make the MLS postseason, but 'Caps coach Carl Robinson cut a resigned figure after watching his side drop two more home points in an action-packed 3-3 draw with the Colorado Rapids on Saturday.
The Whitecaps knew they were entering must-win territory heading into their final four matches of the regular season. A solitary point does little for their already near extinguished playoff hopes as they sit six points out of the West's sixth and final playoff spot with only three matches remaining.
Robinson was clearly frustrated by his team's lack of effort in a poor first half that saw them fall behind after only eight minutes. They were always playing catch-up after that and for a team with everything on the line, it took them a while for them to show it.
"That just sums us, our season, totally up," Robinson told reporters after the match. "First half, not good enough. Not acceptable. I let the players know that at halftime. I thought we were well off the pace and they [the Rapids] deserved to be ahead, even though it was a shocking goal. Miscommunication. It's happened a number of times this year.
"We altered one or two things in the second half. The positive I'll take out of it is they showed tremendous fight, spirit, heart, but we made two mistakes again and it cost us and we had an uphill mountain to climb. We did, and we get back in it in the last minute. A lot of positives in the second half, but we've thrown two points away. We know that."
Robinson was very critical of the performance of a lot of his players, especially his more senior leaders, but did take some positives from the fact that his team managed to fight back three times against the Rapids' league-leading defense. But it was too little, too late as far he was concerned.
"The supporters were brilliant today," added Robinson. "They were very good at halftime. I don't know why, because we weren't good enough. That's credit to them. They don't say nothing after those 45 minutes, but [my team] responded in the second half and in the end I think we gave them something to shout about. But we can't talk about 45 minutes of football. The game's about 90 minutes."
A question Robinson and his management team will ponder is why one of the few players who did rise to the occasion throughout the match was the youngest player in his squad and on the pitch.
Alphonso Davies was given his first MLS start for the 'Caps in the draw, playing the full 90 minutes, and the 15-year-old looked hungry and up for it from the first whistle, a point duly noted by Robinson.
"Alphonso deserved to play," stated Robinson. "He deserved his chance because he was very good in Kansas. He was very good off the bench in Seattle. Again, I've got no worries about throwing the young kid in because he deserves his chance. Forget about the age. He showed you what he's all about today with his performance.
"He was enjoyable to watch. He was gliding with the ball. He made some wrong decisions. Senior players make wrong decisions. he had an enjoyment in his play, which sort of carried us through the first half because he was one of only one or two shining lights in the first half. He had a great performance for someone so young."