Vancouver Whitecaps fret over postseason hopes as previously productive attack goes missing

VANCOUVER, B.C. – There weren't many positives that Vancouver Whitecaps coach Carl Robinson could take from Saturday's comprehensive 3-0 defeat by the Portland Timbers.

On the defensive side, the Whitecaps made it five goals conceded in the past two games, but with three clean sheets immediately prior to those matches, that's perhaps not the most pressing concern for Robinson right now.

That comes at the other end of the pitch, as it has for weeks now. With no goals in four of their last five games, the Whitecaps are showing no signs of returning to the free-scoring team from a few months back.

What exactly has happened to his strikers is both frustrating and puzzling for the 'Caps coach.

"I’m not sure," Robinson honestly admitted after Saturday's match. "I think it’s something we’ve got to look at because [the Timbers] have conceded a lot of goals, but they didn’t seem in any danger. Even if we would have hit our levels of attack in play, I still don’t think we would have scored three goals.

"It’s something we have to look at individually and collectively and as a staff as well and find a solution. I don’t think we were a threat throughout the game, and that was probably our biggest concern for me." 

Vancouver have struggled to put the ball in the back of the net, no matter who they play up front. Erik Hurtado got the start on Saturday over Darren Mattocks, who was rested, but the young striker failed to produce a shot on goal.

The Whitecaps' lack of attack is starting to hamper their playoff hopes, but Robinson freely admits that he doesn't have a lot of options to pick from right now.

"I’ve got two center forwards. I’ve got Darren and I’ve got Erik," Robinson said. "I think Erik did well today without being the threat that I want him to be in that role. 

"Natural goalscorers are very few and far between if you look throughout the league. We’ve got players that can score goals. They are the players that we’ve got, and we are moving on with them and I’m confident that they can give us the goals that we need."

With the MLS season now entering its final two months, the Whitecaps don't have a lot of time for their attackers to rediscover their form. Do they have enough time?

Robinson is hopeful, but knows he needs to see a massive improvement from his side if they are to make the postseason.

 "I suppose I can answer that in nine games," Robinson said. "Teams drop points, I think it’s just an indication of the league today. Seattle last week went to Portland and beat them very comfortably, we beat Seattle when they played here, I think deservedly so. And Portland deservedly beat us.

"That goes to show the dynamic of the league, that on any given day if you perform you can win any game of football. And if you don’t perform, like we didn’t [against Portland], you’re going to lose."