The Bug is back? Whitecaps eager for Techera to regain his previous heights

VANCOUVER, B.C. – “Pedestrian" was the word Vancouver Whitecaps head coach Carl Robinson used to describe his side's first-half performance against FC Dallas at BC Place on Saturday night.

It was a lackluster display from a team missing a number of key personnel, and one sorely crying out for a difference maker to step up and take the game by the scruff of the neck, exacerbated by Maxi Urruti's opening goal for the visitor's seven minutes into the second half.

Thankfully for Vancouver, Cristian Techera was up for the challenge. The diminutive Uruguayan put in a Man of the Match performance, dragging the Whitecaps level with a stunning, dipping free kick 16 minutes from time and causing the Dallas defense a number of problems.

The Whitecaps have seen such skill from Techera in spurts over these past three seasons, but it's something his teammates are challenging the winger to show on a more regular basis.

"I say to him that he needs to make one [goal] every game because he’s got the quality," 'Caps goalkeeper David Ousted said of Techera. "[On Saturday] he showed that world-class finishing and that world-class technique he’s got off a free kick. So I’m expecting one of those every game."

Consistency has certainly been a struggle for Techera since joining the Whitecaps in April of 2015.

“The Bug” lit up the league in his first season in MLS, scoring seven goals and adding five assists in performances that earned him a permanent move to the club last season. But 2016 wasn't kind to Techera, who struggled to produce the same results, leaving the Uruguayan with only two goals and two assists on the year.

He looks to be back to his best, however. Saturday's goal was his fourth of the season so far in only 13 appearances. He's also added two assists and has been a thorn in the sides of many of Vancouver's opponents. When it comes to just what's sparked Techera into refinding his 2015 form, his coach puts it down to one simple thing.

"I think confidence," said 'Caps coach Carl Robinson on Saturday. "Players love confidence. When the manager gives them confidence, they thrive on it. When the supporters give confidence, they thrive on it. When things come off, they try things.

“We were chasing, but I wanted to keep the Bug on the field because he’s great at set pieces. He can create a goal and score a goal, and he showed [it with] a wonderful strike. He’s done it before and hopefully he’ll do it again. He’s playing with confidence at the moment."

Techera was something of an unknown quantity on his arrival in MLS. The Uruguayan feels that he perhaps let opponents get a read on his game in his second season, but he’s delighted to be back playing some of his best soccer and agreed with Robinson's assessment that confidence is key.

Now he's hoping that he and his team can build on that.

"One game builds on another," Techera told reporters through a translator after Saturday's match. "Once you get one goal, you get confidence for another, and it just goes from there.

"Sometimes opponents will study your tactics and cancel you out. Ultimately, we're looking to improve, and we've seen that this season."