Despite failing to threaten Sean Johnson’s goal in a meaningful way until an 87th minute header from Eric Hassli, head coach Martin Rennie was pleased with his team’s effort and application in Saturday’s 1-0 loss to the Chicago Fire at Toyota Park.
In a match with few real opportunities for either side, it was a well struck set piece from Pavel Pardo that won the match in the 10th minute, as the Mexican international wrapped his free kick up over the Vancouver wall and into the upper 90 of Joe Cannon’s goal.
“I was incredibly impressed with the legs we showed,” Rennie told Vancouver radio station TEAM 1040 following the match. “Obviously we started the game slower than we would have liked. It was a great free kick – it was executed perfectly. But we responded very well from there and I thought the effort and energy we showed after that was actually mind-blowing at times given the number of games we’ve just played and the amount of travel we’ve just done.
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“I wouldn’t say there was any lack of energy there – in fact there was way more energy than I thought we had,” Rennie said. “So, I’m actually really proud of the players tonight. Obviously disappointed not to get a point or a win but I really believe we deserved a lot more out of that game tonight.”
Michael Nanchoff made his first start of the season but experienced little joy on the left wing, stepping into the spot previously occupied by Davide Chiumiento, who was transferred to Swiss club FC Zurich on Wednesday.
On the other side, Barry Robson started at right midfield before being moved centrally at halftime as Alain Rochat was subbed off in favor of Dane Richards (above), the winger acquired in exchange for Sebastien Le Toux on Friday.
Robson blasted all four of his shots wide of the target while Richards seemed to offer the team more width and speed but little in the way of meaningful penetration.
Still, Rennie feels any hiccups the new players experience will be short lived.
“Obviously there’s two new players coming in,” Rennie told TEAM 1040. “I don’t really see it taking a lot of time. Obviously those two players need to get to know the others and obviously being on the training ground always helps to establish that, but for Barry to have played 60 minutes, then 90 minutes three times in basically a preseason schedule for him is amazing. He’s always wanting the ball and is always getting on it. He’s going to add an awful lot to the team, as will Dane.”
Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com.