Soccer

Whitecaps look in mirror and through open transfer window

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Peter Schaad
6/30/2014 2:07:35 PM
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When we look back on it from the sobering eyes of October, this winless, goal-less, and mostly lifeless week may have actually come at a good time for the Whitecaps. The good news; it took until the end of June to have really poor back to back games.  But those pre-World Cup break thrills and spills, with seven goals in two away games feels like much more than two-and-a-half weeks ago. 

What this past week did was expose a glaring weakness; Vancouver's inability to break through clubs who don't give them space. One dimension the club has been missing since year one in MLS is an aerial threat from a corner, free kick or a Pedro Morales diagonal ball. Whether that attribute is on the resume of a future Centre Back, or they go after a traditional target striker come July 9...the Whitecaps must get more production from the dead ball.

With arch rivals Seattle providing the last opposition before an opening transfer window, one wonders how proactive the Whitecaps will be to strengthen. This weekend's opponents are runaway league leaders built almost exclusively with well-travelled MLS veterans. Is that an ingredient the club is missing, especially in these dog days of the MLS schedule? 

Media and supporters alike salivated over the prospects of youngsters Mattocks Manneh and Hurtado all starting together against the league's worst team in Montreal; especially without three key components in Marco DiVaio, Justin Mapp and Felipe. It's very easy to say now, but what else was Frank Klopas going to do against the Whitecaps, but sit deep?

That first hour on Wednesday was like watching three Ferraris trying to race around downtown Vancouver traffic.  Lots of revving, but never the space to really get going, and eventually, stuck at a red light on a one way street.

The one outfield bright spot against the Impact was the evasive and adventurous Gershon Koffie, who for his efforts, was given a spot on the bench at Colorado.  His holding midfield colleague Mattias Laba, was by his standards anonymous Wednesday, and downright leg-less at Philadelphia.  But Laba kept his place, and in Koffie's absence, Russell Tiebert, a player who many observers find hard to clearly define. 

One needn't extol the young Canadian's virtues - we all know what they are, and he still has enough years to evolve into that ideal position.  But the buzzing and supporting and possessing all seemed rather superfluous when the Whitecaps were down two and needing some forward thrust.  Koffie did come on at half-time, but even then it felt too late.

Most worrisome in Colorado were the performances of Uruguayans Nicholas Mezquida and Sebastien Fernandez.  Their country had been dispatched from the World Cup by Colombia earlier that day, and it almost seemed like the two were still in mourning.  Neither player could complete a pass, and both looked like featherweights in possession getting brushed aside by stronger opponents.  

As eight unbeaten suddenly became winless in three, it will be really interesting to watch how Carl Robinson goes about building his team up in advance of the Sounders visit.  Does he show patience with his young players to get back to their previous form, or with four games in two weeks looming - does he consider making changes.  There must also be a voice in the back of his head telling him about the components his squad doesn't have.

We know the man they call 'Robbo' never backs down from a challenge.  He's also not backing down from any incoming phone calls either. 

Vancouver Whitecaps (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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