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Finishing practice on menu for misfiring Vancouver side

Jay DeMerit and Chris Cortez

Photo Credit: 
Getty Images

Against Chivas USA on Wednesday, Vancouver Whitecaps FC continued their habit of missing key opportunities. So, with hockey-mania sweeping over Vancouver as the Canucks play in the Stanley Cup Finals, perhaps it’s time for the ‘Caps to take the advice of one of hockey’s most famous personalities.

Notorious hockey commentator Don Cherry often says, “Put the puck on net and good things happen.” The same concept holds true in soccer, and after continually sailing shots high and wide, the ‘Caps need to put the ball on target if they’re to get a result against Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday (9 pm ET, MatchDay Live).

“I think we’re trying to kill the ball instead of forcing the ‘keeper to make a save,” said head coach Tom Soehn. “That’s something that we’ll continue to work on, but making sure it’s a mentality for us is important.”

No less than three golden chances were missed at the Home Depot Center, with Eric Hassli striking the crossbar and Davide Chiumiento twice firing off target from inside the box. That fact wasn’t lost on Soehn as he ran his second training session since taking over the team.

“In practice today, that’s what we focused on a lot,” said winger Shea Salinas after training at Rio Tinto Stadium on Friday. “It’s a bumpy pitch so it’s tough to make contact with it. You’re just focused on trying to hit the target and make the goalie make a save.”

They’ll certainly have to place their shots well if they hope to beat Salt Lake ‘keeper Nick Rimando, who has been one of the top shotstoppers in the league the past several years and is on stand-by with the United States national team for the Gold Cup.

While Rimando remains, RSL will be missing several important players to Gold Cup duty, including Costa Rica striker Álvaro Saborío, El Salvador striker Arturo Alvarez and Canada midfielder Will Johnson. Further hope for Vancouver comes with the fact that RSL finally proved vulnerable at home, having their 29-game home unbeaten streak ended by Seattle in a 2-1 loss in their last match.

“Their record here is very good and if there’s any good time to play this team at their place, it’s now,” said captain Jay DeMerit. “So we need to take advantage of that and continue to build on the performance of the other day. “

A big part of building on that performance will be improving their accuracy in front of goal, and for that they’ve turned to another cliché, “practice makes perfect.”

“Ultimately, all you have to do as a team is to create chances to give yourselves the best chance of a result,” said DeMerit. “If we continue to do that, and continue to work on the actual finishing here in training, then it has to turn soon enough.”