Last week, the Whitecaps travelled down to Portland, where they were promptly spanked by Timber Joey's chainsaw. And boy did it chafe. A full week later, and it was a completely different story.
Real Salt Lake entered BC Place knowing that they would need a win if they would have any hope of pipping the Sounders and the Galaxy for the Supporters' Shield.
But where the Utahans came in with a negative mindset, hoping to reduce their deficit, thanks to Toronto's victory over the Timbers, Vancouver knew that they controlled their destiny, at least as far as the Anschutz Cup was concerned. The Champions League is another matter, but we'll get to that later.
For now, we can all bask in the aftermath of a Vancouver Whitecaps FC win. I'll say that again. Vancouver Whitecaps FC earned a win. Of late, it's been an all too rare accomplishment. Before tonight, it had only happened once in the last seven matches.
It didn't come easy, or as the Royal Army might point out, without some assistance from the referee. But in our view, it was earned.
The first decision came in the 11th minute. The play actually started on the edge of the Vancouver box, when Matías Laba won the ball from Chris Winger, getting it up to Mauro Rosales.
Rosales found Sebastián Fernández on the left flank, an the Uruguayan immediately made a run at goal. He was pulled back outside of the box by Luke Mulholland, but he stayed on his feet to continue his run. Ultimately, he was fouled from behind by Nat Borchers. Penalties have been given away for a lot less, and one should have been given then.
The second decision came in the 22nd minute. As Morales took a corner kick, Alvaro Saborio put his right arm around Kendall Waston's neck and got him into a headlock. We imagine that Saborio's been working out, as the ease with which he threw around the big man was as surprising as it was laughable that referee Allan Chapman saw nothing wrong with it.
As is often the case, the third's the charm, and in first half stoppage time, Saborio brought Waston down in Salt Lake's box. While some might consider it a dive on the part of the Costa Rican, Saborio grabbed Waston's shirt from behind, yanking him back as Waston trying to move forward. There was nothing he could do to stop his fall.
This time, the referee pointed to the spot. But instead of burying it in the back of the net, Whitecaps captain Pedro Morales took something of a weak shot and Salt Lake goalkeeper Jeff Attinella guessed correctly to make the save with virtually the last touch of the first half.
Just over six minutes after the break, Salt Lake was at it again, this time it was Abdoulie Mansally who put his hand on the number seven of Fernández's shirt, pushing forward and naturally, the Uruguayan went flying. But again, the referee saw nothing wrong with that manoeuvre.
The Caps will definitely have to incorporate it into their defending, though something tells us that if Andy O'Brien or Waston tried it, they might not get the same reaction from the officials.
Speaking of defending, David Ousted made a monumental save against Javier Morales, putting the ball over for a corner kick. And while Borchers was able to score off the corner, his earlier effort was still a fantastic save, the kind that can give defenders confidence.
The actual goal owed as much to the fact that the Whitecaps didn't put a man on either post as it did to any individual mistake. Had someone been on the far post, they could have easily dealt with it.
The Caps didn't let the visitors enjoy their lead for very long. Not five minutes after the goal had gone in at one end, Erik Hurtado was the victim of a scissor tackle by Mansally. Hurtado wanted it, and he could feel justified, having earned it, but Morales is the penalty taker, and regular service resumed at exactly 61:07. This time, he made no mistake.
Where he had been a little weak on the first one, this second effort was emphatic. Even if Attinella had guessed correctly, he was never going to stop a shot with that kind of power behind it.
With a quarter of an hour left to play, Sebastian Jaime was on the receiving end of a dangerous ball. Ousted came out to challenge him, and being outside his own box, he couldn't use his hands. But the Great Dane handled it well, keeping his arms at his side while making himself look big. In the end, he was able to stall until reinforcements could arrive in the form of Steven Beitashour.
Not long after, Kekuta Manneh, who had just come on for Fernández, played the ball into the centre of the Salt Lake box. Nicolás Mezquida went for it, but when he saw Beitashour coming in, he backed off, allowing the Iranian international to fire it down the line.
As a rule, fullbacks don't get a lot of goals, and today was no different. Beitashour's shot probably wasn't going to go in, but luckily, Morales was there to redirect it into the back of the net.
Morales was so overcome with emotion that in celebration, he removed his shirt. And for it, he received a yellow card. It's a shame that genuine displays of emotion, the kind that the club will no doubt use to advertise their 12% for 12 days campaign, are frowned upon by the officials.
There would be no more goals scored this day, nor any needed. Anytime a club earns two penalty kicks in a single match, they have to fancy their chances of pulling off a victory. But that doesn't mean that this wasn't a monumental improvement on their last outing.
The Whitecaps were organised, disciplined, creative, and yes, a little bit reckless. Today they played with passion and desire. And if they can keep this up for the rest of the season, they'll do just fine.
In the final analysis, Salt Lake had a more than a 14% possession advantage and strung together 111 more passes than Vancouver. But the Whitecaps completed more passes in the final third, had more shots on target, more shots off target, more of their shots were blocked, and of course, scored more goals.
And really, that's all that matters. The Whitecaps won. They needed to get a victory tonight to take advantage of Portland's loss earlier in the day, when they dropped three points in Toronto.
Of course, there is still the Champions League to consider. Toronto are now level with Vancouver on points, and they still have a game in hand on the Whitecaps, but all they can do is give it their best.
With the win, the Whitecaps are back on track to make the qualifying round of the Anschutz Cup, are still neck and neck with Toronto for the Canadian Champions League berth, and still have the Cascadia Cup to play for in just under two weeks time.
But before that, they will welcome FC Dallas to BC Place on October 4th. And this time, they will mess with Texas.
Man of the Match: David Ousted
Referee: Allen Chapman
57' - RSL - Nat Borchers (Javier Morales)
62' - VAN - Pedro Morales (penalty kick)
78' - VAN - Pedro Morales (Steven Beitashour, Kekuta Manneh)
Shots: Vancouver 17 - Real Salt Lake 16
Shots on Goal: Vancouver 9 - Real Salt Lake 7
Saves: Vancouver 6 - Real Salt Lake 7
Fouls: Vancouver 14 - Real Salt Lake 8
Offsides: Vancouver 0 - Real Salt Lake 3
Corners: Vancouver 6 - Real Salt Lake 8
36' - VAN - Steven Beitashour
60' - RSL - Carlos Salcedo
63' - VAN - Russell Teibert
79' - VAN - Pedro Morales
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
1.David Ousted; 33.Steven Beitashour, 40.Andy O'Brien, 4.Kendall Waston, 2.Jordan Harvey; 15.Matías Laba, 31.Russell Teibert; 30.Mauro Rosales (29.Nicolás Mezquida 64'), 77.Pedro Morales, 7.Sebastián Fernández (23.Kekuta Manneh 77'); 19.Erik Hurtado (11.Darren Mattocks 68')
Substitutes not used
70.Paolo Tornaghi, 3.Sam Adekugbe, 8.Medhi Ballouchy, 27.Ethen Sampson
Real Salt Lake
24.Jeff Attinella; 17.Chris Winger, 16.Carlos Salcedo, 6.Nat Borchers, 29.Abdoulie Mansally; 19.Luke Mulholland (27.Sebastian Velasquez 82'), 5.Kyle Beckerman, 11.Javier Morales, 21.Luis Gil (20.Ned Grabavoy 69'); 15.Alvaro Saborio (23.Sebastian Jaime 69'), 8.Joao Plata
Substitutes not used
2.Lalo Fernandez, 4.Aaron Maund, 12.Cole Grossman, 49.Devon Sandoval