Amateurish defending costs Caps in Houston

March 24, 2013 at 6:29 pm | Posted in Whitecaps Season 2013 | 4 Comments

The Vancouver Whitecaps were unlucky to concede their first defeat of the season away to Houston tonight by a score of 2-1. A combination of poor finishing, plain bad luck, amateurish defending and a player selection mistake by our coach proved our undoing.

The Whitecaps were under heavy pressure early on and conceded numerous corner kicks in the first half. The Caps looked a bit surprised to find themselves in a football match while they shook off the cobwebs from two week’s rest.

Joe Cannon looked his old eccentric self on a number of occasions but he made a couple of key saves that kept us in the match early on. There was plenty of bad defending on the night, and the Whitecaps were the first to profit from it. Darren Mattocks was left one on one at the top of the box with a Houston defender, and managed to wriggle his way free from him for a shot all on his own, which he dispatched into the back of the net with a spectacular curling effort. All of our early season anxieties about Mattocks were swept away in a second. Against the run of play it was 0-1 Whitecaps.

Rennie: can you spot the class footballer in this photograph?

Rennie: can you spot the class footballer in this photograph?

The entire match turned on a miss, however, from that same man Mattocks. The Whitecaps caught Houston on a counter attack with only one man back; Mattocks and Hurtado both raced towards goal. Mattocks beat a recovering defender and had Houston’s Keeper Hall at his mercy but shot the ball straight at him. Hurtado and Reo-Coker were gasping in disbelief that Mattocks did not pass to them, as they were both completely open at the far post. While Mattocks had the right to shoot, he did not have the right to miss that one. Had he finished that chance, it was a different result on the night for the Whitecaps. Mattocks proved he is still a rookie as a striker, and cancelled his wonder goal by missing what should have been a second.

Jun Marques Davidson has garnered a lot of praise recently in the media for winning his spot back, but he won’t be getting any praise from me for this match. His failure to close down Houston’s Clark deep in Whitecaps territory early in the second half allowed Clark all the time in the world to deliver a pin-point cross to be headed in to the Whitecaps goal by Barnes. What is worse, he moved out of the way of the cross, turning his body away from the very spot it should have been. At the professional level players should not be scared to be hit by the ball. It just shows how a momentary loss of concentration will be punished at this level of play. Davidson was lackadaisical on the play and it cost us dearly. It was 1-1.

Houston’s second goal came soon after Mattocks miss as the Whitecaps were finally punished for conceding too many corner kicks (they conceded 11 on the night). A superbly taken corner kick curled and dipped its way into our six yard box without either Rusin or O’Brien getting anywhere near it. The ball fell to Hurtado who reacted as if it was the first time he had ever seen a football. Rusin lost his man as well and should have been there to clear the ball. It has to be said that O’Brien was culpable as well. The Whitecaps collective failure to clear the ball led to an easy tap in by Creavalle, and our much tweeted effort to break Houston’s home streak without a loss came to nothing.

Martin Rennie was out-coached tonight by Dominic Kinnear and it was a clear and critical error for Rennie to start Hurtado over Camilo. While Camilo is rumoured to be injured and not fit enough to play an entire match, he was good for at least a half from the look of his play. Camilo’s insertion in the 70th minute immediately made the Whitecaps a distinctly better team. Camilo was unlucky not to score on two occasions, hitting both posts on one free kick. For my money, Camilo proved to anyone who knows the first thing about football that Rennie has been wrong to leave him on the bench so often this season.

As for Hurtado, the ability to run very fast in a straight line is not going to make him succeed in this league. His dribbling is poor and his defending ability was found wanting on both goals. While he did find Mattocks with a good pass for the first goal, he is no where near the class of Camilo. He should only be coming on as a sub at this point in his career. It is Rennie’s fault he is not being used appropriately, however.

I can only hope that being schooled in a coaching master class by Kinnear is something Rennie has learned from. Being able to spot and use an excellent footballer is lesson number one. Rennie’s failure to use Camilo properly this season proves he must have nodded off during that lesson.


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  1. Well put Bruce, Camillo should have started! Poor Defending cost us.

    -Chris Cole

    • Poor defending? Actually it was amazingly good. It was not the defenders that let Houston come to the box!

  2. This quote from your post explains, for me, Rennie’s decision to start Hurtado instead of Camilo: “While Camilo is rumoured to be injured and not fit enough to play an entire match, he was good for at least a half…”. I am strongly of the opinion that if Camilo is healthy he should have started however if he is nursing a thigh injury as many suspect it was the correct decision to start someone else and bring Camilo on as a sub. Camilo has proven often enough in the past that his impact off the bench is a significant advantage for the Whitecaps as he injects energy and creativity when he enters the game. Hurtado is an extremely talented, lightening quick young prospect but he is what he appears to be; a rookie learning the game. He shows flashes of the brilliance that makes him an exciting player for the future but he is still raw and unrefined at the MLS level and as we have seen several times already, he makes rookie mistakes. Perhaps Rennie should have started Matt Watson for a more defensive look or Corey Herzog up front for a more offensive look.

  3. Well davidson cost us another goal in LA against chivas. I wouldnt be suprised to see him ride the bench. As camilo …he had his chance …he simply cannot get a shot ON net (posts are not on net) and against chivas he rolled two wide…he also needs to actually SCORE when he gets a chance…he will ride the bench

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