Mixed bag for the Whitecaps in defeat to Houston
The Whitecaps 2 1 defeat to the Houston Dynamo on Saturday was a real curate’s egg of a performance.
There were times when the team was eerily reminiscent of the one that played on the road last season; unable to keep possession, dropping far too deep and unwilling or unable to threaten the opposition goal in anything like a meaningful way.
Yet there were others when they seemed capable of splitting the Houston defence at will; carving out chance after chance with quick passing and the utilization of the speed of the forwards, which leaves us in the slightly bizarre position of maybe knowing less about this team now than we did before the game began.
There were though a number of issues that need to be addressed
Defending on set pieces it’s never a good sign when every corner kick that is played into the box ends up with the ball pinging, pinball style, around the goal, but that was the case in Houston. Part of that can simply be put down to poor defending but part can also be put down to goalkeeper Joe Cannon.
He has always had a reluctance to venture of his line to claim the ball and so it was no surprise when the second Houston goal derived from a corner that landed in the six yard box yet found Cannon retreating back to his goal line.
It may be true that Andy O’Brien lost his man and it may be true that Erik Hurtado was left floundering alone, but both of those errors wouldn’t have occurred had Cannon come to claim a cross that should have been his.
Midfield inferiority the greatest strength of the two home wins became the greatest weakness once the team hit the road; Gershon Koffie never imposed his presence in the middle of the pitch, Daigo Kobayashi was a peripheral figure and Nigel Reo Coker struggled to keep possession.
It difficult to say why they wereso bad and, in fairness to Reo Coker, he did get forward more as the game wore on, but whatever the reason all three will need to improve if the team is going to get something from the next two games.
Taking their chances Darren Mattocks goal was a great hit, but he could easily have had a hat trick on Swarovski Jewelry the night. The most memorable (and worst) of his misses came just before Houston equalized, but even after the team had gone behind he continued to carve out opportunities that, on another day, he would put away.
His pace will always be a danger to teams, but he has to make that danger translate into goals on a more regular basis.
Hurtado not yet a starter? it’s easy to see why Martin Rennie likes Erik Hurtado; he is quick, powerful and full of confidence. Yet he still doesn’t seem ready for a full MLS game. He has a tendency to try to do too much when he has the ball and his defensive frailties are too much of a liability when the team is under pressure.
By the summer he may well be a regular on the team sheet but, for now, his best role seems to be as an impact substitute.
That’s an awful Swarovski Jewelry lot of negativity for a game that left me feeling curiously optimistic about the team.
Rennie’s approach to the game was far more adventurous than we saw away from BC Place last season and the players (on the whole) seemed willing to buy into that philosophy, although the concern now must be that the defeat will Swarovski Jewelry convince all concerned that discretion is the better part of valour and we see a retreat to the bunker mentality of last season, but let’s hope not.
When the coach watches that game again he will no doubt see a team that could have conceded far more than they did, but could also have scored far more than their solitary goal.
And that should mean that there were enough positives in Houston to make the negatives less bitter than they might have been, but Rennie will know Swarovski Jewelry that those negatives will have to be addressed before the game against Chivas USA next week.