Soccer

Caps Corner: Caps can't capitalize on Morales magic

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Peter Schaad, TEAM 1410
7/28/2014 3:30:22 PM
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At some point, you'll get tired of hearing about how great Pedro Morales is. The plaudits have been justified, if not understated, and the $1.3 million salary actually seems like a bargain given the wide manner in which one of Vancouver's most talented athletes expresses himself on the field.

Another Morales masterclass was in session Sunday at BC Place, as the Chilean maestro waved his wand producing 40-yard switches, five-yard combinations...even a keep-me-up sequence that had the crowd squealing with delight.

He also pulled out a new one from his tool belt, a turn at the edge of the box followed by a cut-back that left Dallas defender Stephen Keel bewildered. The subsequent strike low and to the left was beaten away by 'Keeper Raul Fernandez.

That was after the 29-year-old unleashed a 25-yard rocket to the top left hand corner that was again foiled by the Peruvian shot stopper. And as the game dwindled down to its final seconds, Morales smashed a full volley so hard, Fernandez could only block it away. Sadly, none of the speedy Whitecaps forwards anticipated the spilled shot...and the juicy rebound was cleared.

While Morales has to accept some responsibility for not hitting the target on a couple of long drives, one does wonder whether his performances...particularly at home, are being squandered.

What's amazing about Morales at the 20-game mark of the season is opposing coaches can't seem to stifle him. No formation...no specific instruction seems capable of thwarting the Whitecaps DP from conducting his business.

When Dallas coach Oscar Pareja set his team up with five in midfield, you would have bet the mortgage that someone would have been tasked with either shadowing the midfield magician, or kicking lumps out of him for 90 minutes.

Instead, Morales was allowed to operate...switching from side to side and rarely putting a foot wrong.

If Morales turned in those kinds of performances on an Eastern team, he would have been inked in as an MLS All-Star. His exclusion at the hands of a Will Johnson is laughable given the Portland captain's 2014 form, but understandable given the game's location. The week off may also be a blessing in the long run.

Still, Morales will be measured on where the Whitecaps finish in 2014, not where he sits on the goals and assists table or any other personal accomplishments.

All that good work on Sunday, and his role in the two goals for was only good enough to earn a single point. Two defensive blunders and a boatload of missed chances left the Caps with just five points from the last four games at BC Place, and one win in eight games.

Therein lies the mounting pressure facing the organization over the next two weeks, as they look to either shore up the back end, or acquire a proven goal poacher to seal games off. Easier said than done on both fronts.

It's ironic that the acquisition of Pedro Morales has set the transfer expectation bar even higher, because the club has now proven it can land the prize catch at a decent age, and for an appropriate sum.

Imagine what the conductor could do with a slightly better orchestra.

Pedro Morales (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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