Despite road point, Vancouver Whitecaps "need to tighten up defensively," coach says
Both the good and the bad sides of this season's Vancouver Whitecaps were on display in Philadelphia on Saturday evening in their 3-3 draw with the Union at PPL Park.
The Whitecaps' exciting and dangerous attackers had put the visitors into a seemingly comfortable 2-0 lead at half time, but once again a second half collapse and more slack defending saw the 'Caps concede three goals in an eight minute spell to fall behind, before a late Pedro Morales penalty saw them leave with a share of the points.
It was a performance that both pleased and frustrated Whitecaps coach Carl Robinson.
"We've got a very good point at the end of the day. Disappointed, because we were very much in control at half time being two goals up," Robinson told Vancouver's Team 1410 radio after the match.
"Lots of positives. Good attacking play. I know we can score goals, it's proven every week. But I'm not naive, I know we need to tighten up defensively, so that's something that we're going to put a big focus on.
"We were well off the mark in the second half if I'm honest. We looked tired. We looked dead on our feet. Obviously it's something we need to look at."
The Whitecaps rewrote some club history as the draw took their unbeaten streak to a club record-setting seven MLS games, but despite coming away with a point, it was a game that still felt a little like a defeat.
For the second straight week Vancouver conceded three goals on the road as their defence continues to struggle. Despite that stat, the Whitecaps have taken four points from those two away games thanks to the efforts of their front line.
"The only saving grace I think we've got is that we can score goals," Robinson said. "If we can tighten up defensively and stop conceding cross balls then we'll be a very, very strong team in the Western Conference.
"We're good at the moment but we've still got a lot of work to do. It is concerning and it's something that me and my coaches need to look at because we can't keep scoring three goals, away from home especially."
DeMerit missed six months last season after an Achilles injury in the first game of the year, and although there is still to be a full diagnosis, there are concerns that the veteran may have done further damage.
"I spoke to Jay at half time and I think it's the tendon down the side of his ankle where he had the Achilles injury," Robinson said. "For me, it's a little bit concerning. It's not looking great if I'm honest. I hope I'll be pleasantly surprised and it's not as bad as I first fear."
Vancouver now head into their World Cup break and as disappointing as it is for his side to have thrown away what looked to be a comfortable position, Robinson feels that there are still many positives that the 'Caps can take away from this game and the entire season so far.
"I'm talking about the Vancouver Whitecaps this year that's gone away from home, scored three goals, and ended up getting a point and we're disappointed," Robinson noted. "So we must be doing something right."