VANCOUVER, B.C. – The suddenly-slumping Vancouver Whitecaps are taking stock after their eight-match unbeaten league run came to an end in Colorado on Saturday evening with a 2-0 defeat to the Rapids.
Colorado is rarely an easy place to go and get points, but the nature of Vancouver’s performance is causing some questions to be asked, coming as it did on the back of a disappointing showing in the 0-0 draw with Montreal on June 25.
“The performance was slightly below the levels that we've probably performed in the first 12, 13-odd games,” coach Carl Robinson admitted to reporters at training on Wednesday. “We know we need to be better overall. Individually, collectively. Myself included.
"I said at the start of the season, I won't get too carried away when we win and I won't get too beat up when we lose. We were playing some very attractive stuff, scoring a lot of goals, but not keeping as many clean sheets as I would like. I put a big focus and onus on defending, and then we go and don't score a goal in two games."
Though it’s easy to point to rustiness from their World Cup break, the Whitecaps do not seem like a team fully clicking upon their return, managing only one shot on target against Colorado on Saturday while making some defensive slips and struggling to create much in midfield. Whitecaps goalkeeper David Ousted and striker Erik Hurtado may get views of the game from different ends of the pitch, but they both see the same issue.
"The intensity, especially in our press, has gone a little bit out of our game," Ousted told MLSsoccer.com. "[This season] we've been tremendous at putting the other teams under pressure and getting after the ball when we lose it. You always lose the ball and you always make mistakes, that's part of the game, but the way we've reacted, that's been a big part of our game, and I think we lost that the last two games. So we need to get back to that."
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That feeling was echoed by Hurtado, who has failed to register even a shot on target in the last two games after scoring in his previous five. The intensity, pressure and tempo need to be raised.
“We just haven't created as many chances as we did at the beginning of the season, but I think that comes down to getting the ball back as soon as we lose it,” Hurtado told MLSsoccer.com. “We can't put our heads down and feel sorry for ourselves. We've got to work and get the ball back. If we press and work 100 percent to get the ball back, that creates more chances for us. We've just got to get that offensive mind back in."