It should have been Darren Mattocks’ screamer of a first-half goal that drew the headlines for the Vancouver Whitecaps. Instead, the major talking point after Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to the Houston Dynamo was Mattocks' 53rd minute miss.
The Jamaican opted to shoot after cutting in on goal rather than pass to Nigel Reo-Coker, who was unmarked the box and appeared to have a better angle. There was also the option of sending Erik Hurtado through, as the winger was also in a good position.
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“It was a massive moment in the game,” head coach Martin Rennie told Vancouver radio station TEAM 1410 when asked about Mattocks’ miss. “In the first half, we stood up to the pressure they put us under, didn’t give up too many chances and then scored an excellent goal. Good assist from Erik [Hurtado] and an excellent finish from Darren.
“At that point, we were in a really good position. Second half, obviously there was more waves of attack coming at us, and we managed to create a great chance on the break…that was a great chance for us to put ourselves in a very strong position. At 2-0, it would have been much more difficult for Houston, so that’s disappointing.”
Stand-in captain Reo-Coker was more direct with his criticism for his young teammate, stating point blank that Mattocks should have passed rather than shot on what would turn out to be the game’s decisive moment.
“I said to Darren after the game, ‘With the level we’re at now, those are the small margins that we can’t let pass us by,’” Reo-Coker said on the radio broadcast. “We take our second chance, the game’s 2-0. It would have been very difficult for them to come back being 2-0 down at home with the [32-game home unbeaten streak] they had.
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“That’s the difference between being playing a higher level of football and a lower level of football. You take your chances. You might only get one chance away from home and you must learn to take that one chance that you may get.”
The ‘Caps also got a bit unlucky on a freak play, as Camilo unleashed a fierce free kick in the 82nd minute only to see it bounce off the top right corner of the goal and then off the left post harmlessly.
“He was really unlucky today not to get that goal,” Rennie said of Camilo’s strike. “Sometimes it’s just not your day.”