The Wanderers Recap: One Flight Too Many
The Canadian Premier League has had outstanding parity in its history regarding individual games, even if league titles have been a different story.
One of the many reasons is the toll that air travel takes on athletes. It’s one of those things that your body takes time to get used to, and even the most seasoned travelers feel the effects of long-haul flights, let alone be able to perform physically at their best immediately after arrival.
While this issue has been a crutch that many Wanderers fans have leaned upon in the past, the match against Vancouver FC gave us a first-hand look at how sluggish a team can look after cross-country travel.
This game started quickly, with the Wanderers dominating possession in the first few minutes. As anyone who has run a long-distance race will know, however, pacing is the most important thing, especially with tired legs after a six-plus hour travel day. As the Wanderers’ energy levels dipped, Vancouver took advantage, scoring a goal off of a sloppy play from Yann Fillion, who misplayed a ball just outside his box. Like a shot of adrenaline to the Wanderers’ hearts, they stormed back, finding newfound energy with Tiago Coimbra doing what he does: finishing off goals from close range to tie the game back up.
But that adrenaline rush couldn’t sustain them forever, and time and time again, the Wanderers lost the ball in midfield and transition, which has been their bread and butter this season.
I am chalking this game up as a cumulation of travel, tired legs, and an off day, while not taking away all of the great work that Vancouver FC did. This performance was not indicative of how good this Wanderers squad is, as we have seen in these past few weeks. Even the star performers like Lorenzo Callegari and Daniel Nimick looked a fraction slower and sloppier than usual.
One of the things with long-term projects is knowing when it has failed, when it is a speed bump, and when it is complete. We know it still needs to be completed, and we also know that it isn’t a failure yet – it’s too early to make that call – so it must be a speed bump.
Having listened to Patrice Gheisar speak a few times on mentality, growth, and team spirit, I believe he would agree with this statement: there will be days when the team doesn’t perform their best, but the mark of a team that is strong mentally, physically, and emotionally is being able to get results when things don’t go their way. As a club, the Wanderers are still learning how to do that.
I’ve said this to Wanderers fans before, and I’ll continue saying it: trust the process.
The Wanderers stay in fifth place, and with two more games coming up in quick succession they’ll be fighting for every point they can to hold their position or move up in the standings. With Vancouver and Atletico Ottawa making big signings, it seems like every team in the standings could make a second-half-of-the-season push for the playoffs.
Tiago Coimbra has now scored in three of his last four games. If he can continue this form, the Wanderers will struggle to keep him in the offseason, as his goal-scoring IQ looks to be off the charts. He currently is scoring a goal every 162 minutes, which is a great return for someone who started the season with short cameos off the bench, where he was unable to make a serious impact.
The match also saw Massimo Ferrin recorded his first professional assist, which puts him at four goal contributions for the season in all competitions with the assist following his three goals.
Header Image Photo Credit: Beau Chevalier / Vancouver FC