On Tuesday, our Vancouver Whitecaps FC played their first preseason game, and believe you me, if you were here in Arizona, you would have been very proud of how they performed.
It may be the first preseason match, and there are still six weeks or so until the start of the season, so I'm not getting carried away. Straight from the whistle, the 'Caps players played like they had been together for a long time, for which the coaching staff have to take a lot of credit for the job they've done so far. When players enter the pitch and buy into the tactics set by the coaching staff, everything flows from this point, and it sure did on this occasion.
The team pressured Real Salt Lake high up the field and often, creating numerous attacking opportunities. The turnovers they created seemed to fill the players with even more confidence and some of their attacking one-touch soccer was pleasing on the eye.
Defensively, Whitecaps FC had to work hard against a very good RSL team, and even though the opposition they had very good possession on occasions, Salt Lake never really threatened the Whitecaps FC goal in the first hour of the contest, as the players kept their shape and put in a much-disciplined performance at the back.
I asked head coach Teitur Thordarson after Tuesday's game if he was surprised at how quickly the team adapted to his tactics. "Yes, very much so," he replied. "We have worked hard with the players to help them understand what is expected of them when they had the ball and when they don’t have the ball."
If Whitecaps FC players were unsure of the squad's quality before Tuesday's game, they will have little doubt in the team's quality now. Knowing there are players that fit into Teitur's system in this squad, that team's new-found confidence will surely move the players forward and give them a real understanding of how the 'Caps are going to play under their head coach.
For me, Tuesday's match was a big step forward for the players. If they keep showing the same desire in training to get better each day as a team, we will be a side that nobody will want to play in MLS.