BURNABY, B.C. – Where will the goals come from?
That's been a question facing the Vancouver Whitecaps all season, and a trend that continued into the final 10 matches of the regular season as they managed only seven goals (four of which came in a 4-0 thrashing of Chivas USA.
And heading into Thursday's winner-take-all Knockout Round match at the LA Galaxy (10:30 pm ET, TSN in Canada, NBCSN in US), it's math Martin Rennie needs to figure out soon.
In this past Saturday’s scoreless draw with Real Salt Lake, the 'Caps head coach selected the speedy Jamaican tandem of Darren Mattocks and Dane Richards up top, with Richards playing a slightly more withdrawn role.
“Obviously we didn’t score, but we kept their backline honest,” Mattocks told MLSsoccer.com after a training session at Burnaby Lake field on Monday. “They had to worry about us getting in behind, so that was good. If we keep working on it more hopefully we can get better chemistry and some goals can come from that.”
The pair didn’t generate much in the way of offense, but did seem to keep the Salt Lake defense on its heels.
“There was a couple of things area there that we could have definitely done better,” Rennie said. “But the one thing they have is incredible pace and pace is hard for any team to defend against, and it does … make them a bit more wary about stepping forward, so it’s nice to have that pace.
"In Darren and Dane, we’ve got two of the quicker guys out there. Whether we play them both exactly the same way again we’ll have to decide, but it’s good to have that weapon.”
Another possible combination could be Kenny Miller and Mattocks. The pairing has only been used twice since Miller’s arrival in July, but Rennie insists the lack of game time together won’t dissuade him from going that route should he feel it’s the best option.
“I can see them starting together,” Rennie said during a media conference call on Tuesday. “With international call-ups, injuries and even a couple of suspensions, we haven’t been able to get them both playing together at the same time, but they’re both available for Thursday and we do think they can complement each other.
“Darren’s got so much potential, Kenny’s got so much quality in terms of his movement and his understanding of the game. We’ve found that he’s been able to help Darren a lot in training and the games they have played, and hopefully that’s something we can do more in the future.”
Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com.