VANCOUVER, B.C. - It's admittedly early days, but the worrying signs are already there that this is set to be another season of goal-scoring struggles for the Vancouver Whitecaps.
The 'Caps have scored six goals through six games so far this year. Amazingly, none of those goals have come from open play, with four of them coming from the penalty spot. A major cause of concern? Head coach Carl Robinson doesn't seem set to push the panic button just yet.
"It's not ideal," Robinson said at training on Tuesday. "Obviously I'd like to score goals from open play or score any goals. We've just got to continue to work. Teams go through struggles some times. I wouldn't say it's a struggle.
"We haven't scored a goal from open play. We know that. We're lucky we've scored from set pieces, so we've been good at that, which we haven't prior to this season."
There's no doubting Vancouver's creative talent, but it's the finishing that consistently lets them down. It doesn't seem to matter which striker Robinson plays and in which formation, either. His attack is firing blanks.
Digging into Vancouver's strikers' stats is alarming. There has been just one goal from a striker in the Whitecaps last 17 matches across all competitions, with Designated Player Octavio Rivero scoring just one goal from open play in his last 28 MLS games.
"He's got to keep going," Robinson said of Rivero. "He's got to keep doing what he's doing, because he is putting in an incredible amount of work up there at the moment. ... He'd like a goal, but his goals will come. If he keeps putting the work in then I'm sure they'll come at some stage."
Robinson praised the positive signs from Rivero's fledgling partnerships with Perez and Kudo, but the question is how long he can wait for the goals to come?
Rivero knows people expect goals from a striker, especially a DP, but he remains relaxed and doesn't mind who the goals come from, just as long as they do.
"I feel no pressure," Rivero told MLSsoccer.com. "For me, it just rolls off my back. It's all about finding the right way to play and the right way to win.
"[Such a goal drought] hasn't happened [to me] before but it is a team sport. Everybody has to attack together and to defend together. There's always something to correct. It's just a case of working on it in training."
Robinson is convinced the goals will come soon and when they do, they'll start to come thick and fast, but feels his side might just need a lucky break to kick them all off.
"I think we maybe need one to go off the backside of someone or off the side of the head.," Robinson joked. "Like buses, it usually comes in spurts, so hopefully if we can get one then we might get a couple."