VANCOUVER – Tinker and reap the rewards.
That worked for head coach Martin Rennie on Saturday, as his Vancouver Whitecaps appeared rejuvenated after four lineup changes helped the club put a four-game winless streak in the rearview mirror with a 1-0 result over FC Dallas.
In came Camilo, Omar Salgado, Jun Marques Davidson and Matt Watson, and out went Eric Hassli, John Thorrington, Davide Chiumiento and Atiba Harris.
“In midfield we wanted to match up against their midfield, who are set quite deep with a huge gap to the front player, so Davidson shielded the back four really well for us,” Rennie said after Saturday’s match. “Koffie and Watson athletically did a great job for us. They won a lot of second balls.
“Part of our thought there was Omar worked so hard and was deserving of his chance. You could see a little glimmer of hope of him in the future and that’s exciting for everyone at the club. Camilo, now that he’s back healthy, we want to give him as many opportunities for him as possible, so I think most of the things we did today worked out for us. Obviously if you win then it looks like it worked out for you.”
The match was Camilo’s first start in April after recovering from a quadriceps injury, and the first he has played under Rennie as an out-an-out striker, having primarily played as a winger or withdrawn forward.
The Brazilian, who said he’s now “100 percent,” appeared to relish the higher role, scoring the decisive goal in the 11th minute.
“I just want to play,” Camilo told MLSsoccer.com after the match. “Starting, I come back, we don’t win in four games, but now we win. I’m happy.”
The option to make four lineup changes and still field a competitive team shows the strength and depth of quality in the squad, according to Sebastien Le Toux.
“We showed it during preseason, with the Disney [World Pro Soccer Classic] and all the different games we played,” Le Toux said. “We have a very talented group, with young players, old players. The coaching staff does a good job too with everyone concerned – not just 11 players. It’s going to be a long season – we have 27 more games plus the Canadian [Championship], so it’s going to be a big, big year, and everyone needs to be ready.”
Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com.