Vancouver Whitecaps' Carl Robinson challenges Gershon Koffie to score more

VANCOUVER, B.C. -- A lot of the talk before Saturday's Cascadia Cup clash between the Vancouver Whitecaps and Seattle Sounders focused on which of the home side's talented young strikers would pose the most problems for the visiting Sounders.

Erik Hurtado scored Vancouver's opener and Kekuta Manneh had a few dangerous runs, but the man who stole the show and won the 'Man of the Match' honours was midfielder Gershon Koffie.

"Gershon showed on Saturday, [with] eight or nine attempts on goal, that that's what he needs to do as a midfield player," Whitecaps coach Carl Robinson told reporters at training on Monday. "People talk about midfield players that can score goals. 

"Gershon can, he doesn't do it enough. He needs to do it more and he can't just score in one game, he has to do it in two, three, four games on the trot."

Koffie scored Vancouver's second goal (video above) in the 2-2 draw and had one of his best games as a Whitecap, with a career high eight shots, three of which were on target.

"Gershon's goal was fantastic," Robinson said. "I joked with him that he scores from 40 yards with his left foot but then he has a chance in the final minute from eight yards with his left foot and he doesn't score. Maybe we'll just keep him shooting from outside the box."

The Ghanaian had looked inspired from the early going and by the 8th minute had already been inches away from curling home a shot from the edge of the box and crashed another effort off the Seattle bar.

"Before the game the manager spoke to us about it being a big occasion and we should come out as we've been doing other games," Koffie told "If we come out with that collective fire, we can win the game in that first 30 or 40 minutes."

"After the game, [Robinson] told me I did great and was my best performance," Koffie continued. "I went back home and watched the video again and I thought I did what he asked me to do. For me to be there and get there is easy, but to maintain that level is not that easy. But you have to keep your head up. And I keep it."

With a wealth of midfield talent in the Whitecaps squad, Koffie had struggled to make his mark in the early stages of the season, reduced to the substitute's bench and not even featuring in Vancouver's first two games of the season.

But Nigel Reo-Coker's off-field injury threw him a chance and he grabbed it with both hands to form a formidable defensive midfield shield partnership with Matias Laba and he hasn't relinquished that starting spot since.

"He's a guy that you want to play with because he does what you ask him to do and he also asks you to do the same," Koffie said of Laba. "If you can do that then it not only helps the team but you as an individual."

It's a partnership that has helped the Whitecaps shore up their defensive end, giving added confidence to the backline and allowing Koffie to push forward more to the delight of Vancouver's management.

"If I was a defender and I knew that I had those two in front of me I'd be absolutely delighted," Robinson noted.

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