After storming out of the gate, the Vancouver Whitecaps have now hit a bump in the road. After picking up a 4-1-1 record in their first 6 games they are now (2-1-4) in their last 7 matches. Despite posting 6 shutouts and only allowing 12 goals against, they are struggling at the other end of the pitch having just 14 goals of their own.
BC Place was once a fortress for the Whitecaps. This was crucial since the team struggled on the road. This season, the opposite has been the case. This weekend’s match against RSL will mark a special occasion. At long last, the old concrete like turf at BC Place has been removed and nice, fluffy new turf has been installed for the upcoming Women’s World Cup. The turf will likely dictate a new style of play but that is yet to be determined.
Luck hasn’t always been on the Whitecaps side, but early this season that changed. The Whitecaps managed to win 3 games which they didn’t deserve to win. A lucky flick of a head here and a lucky bounce there and the Whitecaps suddenly had a 3 game win streak which they then followed up with a dominate victory over the Galaxy. These results helped to hide the glaring problems with the roster.
Star striker Octavio Rivero is on a dry run. His holdup pay is brilliant and he has a nose for goal. However, he needs a strike partner. Rivero currently occupies the lone striker position in a 4-2-3-1 formation. I’m not a big fan of this formation, especially with the playing style of Pedro Morales. The Chilean playmaker has a tendency to drop deep and ping long balls to sprinting teammates. From time to time he pushes forward but I would like to see him spend more time close to the top of the 18 yard box. If he pushed up and joined in every attack then this would draw attention away from Octavio Rivero who is instantly being covered by 2 or 3 enemy defenders every time he gets the ball. Opponents have this luxury of using their numbers because Rivero is often all alone. If Morales pushed up and acted as a withdrawn striker then he could assist Rivero. Sadly, this doesn’t seem to be in the Morales bag of tricks.
After 4 consecutive pitiful performances, during which time only 3 goals were scored (all of which came against NASL side FC Edmonton in Can Championship action), something has to change. If Morales can’t be trusted to join in the attack as much as he should, then Carl Robinson has no other choice but to give Rivero a strike partner in the hope of energizing the attack.
With RSL in town, this weekend’s match will be the last home game for the Whitecaps until the second week of July. Their upcoming 5 match road trip includes LA, New England and New York. A home victory over RSL is an absolute must. Carl Robinson is young and so far he has be a fantastic choice to lead this team. However, he can’t continue on this tactical road and expect the results to improve. If the Whitecaps remain with their 4-2-3-1 and put their fans to sleep with another dismal effort, then questions must be asked of head coach Carl Robinson.