The World Cup break seems to have taken a disruptive toll on Vancouver Whitecaps, whose eight-match league unbeaten run was ended in a 2-0 defeat on the road Saturday against the Colorado Rapids.
First-half goals from Dillon Powers and Vicente Sanchez did the damage at Dick's Sporting Goods Park, but for the second time in the space of four days, the free flowing football shown by the Whitecaps in the weeks leading up to their break was missing.
"It was a tough day for a lot of the players," Whitecaps head coach Carl Robinson told the media in his postgame comments. "The first half, we didn't help ourselves by giving two sloppy goals away. When it goes to 2-0 it's hard. We have managed to get back before. We were better in the second half, but we probably didn't deserve to get anything out of the game."
Coming into the week, Vancouver had the chance to go into second place in the Western Conference if they won both of their games against Montreal, which ended in a scoreless draw, and Colorado. Instead, they finish it with just one point and no goals scored from the two matches.
In both games, the Whitecaps found their midfield unable to click and create any clear chances. Against the Rapids, they found themselves overrun in the middle on several occasions.
"The game is about in possession, out of possession. It's cat and mouse," Robinson said. "When you have the ball, how can you affect them? And when you don't have the ball, how can you stop them affecting you? I don't think we did enough out of possession in the first half. I thought we let them dictate the game too much."
Vancouver had scored six goals in their previous two road games and were averaging two goals per game in their unbeaten run.
Against Colorado, they only managed to register one shot on target, and following a poor offensive showing against Montreal, this is already starting to be an area of concern for Robinson.
"I don't think Erik Hurtado has had one shot on goal in the last two games, so we need to review that and analyze that," Robinson said. "It's not just about Erik, it's about the team. But if there's no spaces in behind, we need to be able to unlock defenses from in front of them."
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"Obviously it didn't pan out that way, but no team is going to come and let us play,” Robinson said. “We’ve done very well in the first few games, so they're not going to let you play. They're going to analyze our strengths and analyze our weaknesses and cause us a problem.
"Over the last few days two teams have come in and managed to cause us a problem, and we've not been good enough to unlock their defense. That's something we need to review and look at."