CARSON, Calif. - A somewhat Herculean task loomed ahead of the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday night when they set out to face the LA Galaxy at StubHub Center. The Caps were riding a four-match losing streak and had only one win in eight tries against the Galaxy in Southern California.
But Vancouver were coming of a dominating performance in CONCACAF Champions League play in midweek, and they did their best Hercules impression to post a hard-fought 0-0 draw that they just as easily could've won if not for a bounce or two. The result affirmed head coach Carl Robinson's faith in his team and his of nod to self-belief for pulling themselves out of their rut.
“We’ve lost four games in a row, and it’s not nice,” Robinson said after the match. “It’s based upon us, and no one else.”
“Today was important for us,” he continued. “Probably no one gave us a chance to get anything from the game, but I firmly believed in the guys."
Vancouver almost went ahead early in the match. Giles Barnes played a cross into Erik Hurtado, who directed his header down, only for the ball to bounce up off the crossbar and out of play for a goal kick.
Hurtado revealed that his thoughts after that shot were similar to just about everyone that saw the effort: How did that not go in?
“I thought it was going in,” Hurtado admitted. “I headed it down and it hit the ground, I thought it was just going to go right into the goal, but I headed it down too hard.”
Despite the miss, Hurtado -- who had a goal in Tuesday's 3-0 CCL victory over Sporting KC -- was singled out for his performance by Robinson.
“His performance overall I thought was absolutely top drawer," Robinson said. "For a young player - he’s still in only his third year as a professional - putting himself in the right area is key. That’s what top players do. That’s what [Galaxy forward] Robbie Keane seems to do every week. We’ve got to try and learn how to do that and when you’re in those areas you’ve got to take those chances.”
The Whitecaps now have a little momentum heading into their September 3rd match vs. New York Red Bulls, and Robinson feels if the players can put forth a similar effort, they'll be in good stead.
"We weren’t able to take advantage of the chances that came our way in a very difficult place," he said. "If not for lack of effort, maybe a lack of quality. But I can’t fault the guys in that. I have faulted them this year because I don’t think they’ve given enough in certain games, but I can’t fault them today. I can’t, so I won’t.”