VANCOUVER, B.C. – A new kind of style requires a different kind of striker.
While the Vancouver Whitecaps often looked to counterattack rather than hold the ball in head coach Martin Rennie’s first year on the touchline, this season he’s preaching a more possession-first system – this weekend’s 57.8 percent possession in a 1-1 draw against the San Jose Earthquakes away from home being the latest example.
With Nigel Reo-Coker’s introduction and the shift to a set up which places two conventional central midfielders ahead of a defensive holding player, that has led to a different look in attack.
Opposing teams often choose to sit deeper, and so that means the spaces in behind for a speedster like Darren Mattocks have essentially disappeared. Now, the nooks and crannies left to exploit are smaller – which favors poachers who linger about the box – Saturday’s goalscorer, Corey Hertzog, could be one such beneficiary of this new look ‘Caps attack.
“The main thing that Corey brings is that he seems to have a natural ability for scoring goals,” Rennie told MLSsoccer.com on Tuesday. “Throughout preseason and throughout all the reserve games, and then again on Saturday, the ball does seem to drop to him in the box, and he seems to be clinical with his finishing.”
How this all affects Mattocks, who was dropped for Saturday’s match, is unclear – but to hear Rennie describe the ideal striker for his revamped side, it sounds as if it fits Hertzog to a T.
“With our team at the moment, we’re creating quite a lot of chances, so the more players we’ve got on the field like that, who we feel can take a chance and get us a goal, the better our team becomes,” Rennie said of Hertzog. “In the past, we really needed more strikers that were able to create something out of nothing on their own – maybe break away on their own or something like that.
"But now, because our team has much more possession of the ball and its creating more chances and its forward more and the ball’s in the box more, then I think it suits players like Corey and others that we’ve got much more than it did in the past.”