VANCOUVER, B.C. – Where will the goals come from?
That's the question for the Vancouver Whitecaps this Saturday as they take on the Montreal Impact (2 pm ET, TSN/RDS in Canada, Univision Deportes in US) on the road in the midst of a wayward spell which has seen the club pick up a 1-5-3 record over its last nine outings.
That record, in large part due to a stagnant offense which has picked up just seven goals during that nine-game span, won't provide many observers with optimism that head coach Martin Rennie's team can get the necessary points to make the playoffs over the final six matches of the campaign.
It's not just that the Whitecaps haven't been scoring. There have been matches in which the team is not even threatening. Forwards Kenny Miller and Camilo, who once looked so dynamic together, appear to be playing in isolation at times, and the chemistry once so obvious seems to have dissipated.
Miller, a Designated Player, has just one goal in his last nine appearances, while Camilo has just one in his last seven.
“We need to make sure we have good movement in the box,” Rennie told reporters after a training session at the University of British Columbia this week. “I think when we're in the final third, we need to make good choices. There was a couple of times where there was maybe people open that we could have found and maybe they would have had a better chance to finish.
“And also, when you've got those chances, we just need to take them. ... We've got players who can do that, we just need to get them scoring again.”
But the hope the team could latch onto this weekend is the return of Russell Teibert – the third member of Vancouver's once potent attacking trio, who often provided a catalytic effect to Vancouver's offense during brighter times earlier this season.
The 20-year-old winger, who has primarily played down the right side of Vancouver's formation, leads his team with eight assists but has missed his Vancouver's last two outings due to international duty with the Canadian squad and illness, respectively.
Still, while the Whitecaps have hinted at a more offensive approach than the park-the-bus approach they assumed during their last trip to Montreal – a scoreless draw in the first leg of the Canadian Championship final – they aren't promising to open things up altogether.
“We owe them one for losing the [Canadian] championship,” midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker said this week. “At the same time, it's important we stay focused on getting some points for the playoff position, and not being naive.
“As much as we want to go and win games, we're not going to be naive at the same time and leave ourselves exposed.”
Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com.