Whitecaps conspire to lose but win in Columbus

May 12, 2014 at 10:24 pm | Posted in Vancouver Whitecaps, Whitecaps season 2014 | Leave a comment

The Vancouver Whitecaps came away from Columbus Ohio with their first road win of the 2014 season. The margin of victory was narrow, (1-0), due only to poor finishing by the Whitecaps. The Whitecaps were lucky the Columbus Crew played very poorly on the night, and are a poor team in general.

Time and time again the Whitecaps had golden opportunities to score goals but blew their chances. Seba Fernandez missed two great chances by shooting wide; Erik Hurtado was one on one with the Goalkeeper in the second half and fluffed his chance well wide; Omar Salgado was clear through on a breakaway and missed the net, and Manneh dragged one long range effort wide and missed the net on another breakaway. It was as if Kenny Miller took all of the finishing composure with him on his journey back to Scotland. If Columbus had any luck in front of goal it would have been a tie or even a loss for the Whitecaps. 

While the Whitecaps finishing was abysmal, the good news was they were able to generate many chances through clever play and through hard work. The match statistics indicated the Whitecaps had 22 shots but only 6 of those actually were on goal. The’Caps also won seven corner kicks.

Bad hair, but great goal

Bad hair, but great goal

Erik Hurtado has been very frustrating to watch since he joined the Whitecaps last year as a draft pick.  His touch has been poor and his football knowledge seemed to be absent.  In the 35th minute of this match he put together three superb touches which culminated in an outstanding cracker of a goal. Whitecaps keeper Ousted knocked a long ball from a free kick just outside of the Whitecaps penalty area towards Hurtado, who used his strength and girth to hold off a Columbus defender.  He brought the ball down with his chest and streaked across the pitch towards the top of the penalty area.  He took a deft touch with the outside of his right boot to drag the ball in front of him and hit the bouncing ball with his left foot.  The ball sailed off of his foot and curled into the far corner of the net; it was a  beautiful goal and, surprisingly, taken with extraordinary technical skill we are not used to seeing from Hurtado.

I asked myself: “is that really Erik Hurtado?”.  It was, and with that goal he put more than a year’s worth of frustration behind him.  Let’s hope his confidence has been awakened, though it has to be said that normal service was resumed later on in the match when, alone with just the keeper to beat, Hurtado shanked his shot embarrassingly wide of goal.  It demonstrated that Hurtado is still far from the finished product.  

Late in the match with the pressure on the Whitecaps got away with some very deep desperation defending in their own 18 yard box. Jay DeMerit and O’Brien both stopped shots only yards out from their own goal.  One late shot deflected off of Matias Laba and went just wide of an outstretched David Ousted.

Carl Robinson again used all three of his subs, taking Hurtado off for Salgado, a rather annoyed Morales off for Teibert, and Laba off for Nigel Reo-Coker very late in the match.  It was nice to see Reo-Coker back on the pitch even though the relationship between he and the Whitecaps seems to be strained to the breaking point.  Even the MLS website has gossip of him leaving the team shortly. The next few weeks will be critical, and who would be surprised if Nigel went the same way as Kenny Miller? How much longer will a player of Reo-Coker’s pedigree be happy to sit on the bench? 

I hope he stays, because he was the best player of 2013 save Camilo, and we really could use his experience and leadership in our young squad.

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