VANCOUVER, B.C. – The Vancouver Whitecaps have a chance to move up the Western Conference standings with a win over FC Dallas on Sunday (5 pm ET; TSN/RDS2 in Canada, MLS LIVE in US). The Whitecaps are not in a playoff position, but they're a mere two points behind their Texan rivals, with a game in hand.
After their free-flowing football at the start of the season, Vancouver have hit a little bit of a goal drought of late, with only four goals in their six matches since resuming play after the World Cup break.
"We're not creating 20 chances a game, like Columbus away or Portland away," 'Caps head coach Carl Robinson told reporters this week. "We've probably only created six or eight chances, away from home especially. When you do that you're probably not likely to score four goals. Based upon that, that's probably part of the reason.
"We're playing in a certain way and I think we're playing very well in that way, but chances aren't coming as freely as they were early in the season, but that's always going to be the case. All the top teams go through runs like that and it's important that when you do, you pick up results."
Despite the lack of production up front, Vancouver have been tightening up defensively, with a couple of recent clean sheets and only two goals conceded in two road games last week.
It's pleasing to those in the backline, but they know they now need to find the right balance between keeping out their opponents and finishing them off with the opportunities that are provided to them.
"We're still creating chances, even if we are more defensive," left back Jordan Harvey said at training on Friday. "You tinker with it. Throughout the season you're going to develop your offensive attacking brand and then try and create that defensive mold and shape that we've had the last couple of games. So hopefully it comes together Sunday."
It was a view echoed by his fellow full back Steven Beitashour, who feels that the impressive attacking style from earlier in the season will come back with a bit more consistency if the team can find their clinical finishing touch again.
"I definitely think we're creating some chances," Beitashour said. "We've got to put some more away then people will be 'okay, there's offense'. Before we were putting everything away and people were like 'wow this offense is amazing'. Right now we're still creating the chances, it's just a matter of finishing them off now."
The Whitecaps had an unbeaten March, a winless April, a nine-game unbeaten streak in May and June and most recently a mini-slump. For goalkeeper David Ousted, it's all about waves of results and he feels Vancouver are due to be riding the crest of one again pretty soon.
"We're creating enough chances up there, so I think that's positive," Ousted said. "Now we need to put them in the back of the net and we've got the guys to do that. Things come in waves. There's been a little bit of a drought, so now hopefully we'll get a wave now."
Michael McColl covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com.