The Vancouver Whitecaps have lost both of their road matches this season, but have generated plenty of opportunities. That will eventually come good if it keeps up.There are losing teams that haven’t got what they deserved, and teams that seem to win despite being outplayed. For the Vancouver Whitecaps this season on the road, they fall in the former category.
While some fans and coaches preach the necessity of results over process, there is something to be said about doing things the right way, even if it hasn’t exactly been generating wins.
If you get the right results but never look convincing doing it, you’re bound to get found out. Conversely, if a team continues to create more opportunities than its opponents, it won’t lose regularly.
Joe Cannon perhaps best summed up the need for patience after the club’s 0-2 away record following a training session this week at the University of British Columbia.
“I honestly think it’s early,” the 38-year-old told reporters. “You can’t micromanage anything … it could just be some bad luck at one end. You don’t want to be really drastic about it.”
While creating more chances and outshooting opponents can be frustrating when the results don't reflect it, the reality is there are many teams that would kill to look as dangerous as Vancouver has in its first two road games.
Darren Mattocks, Daigo Kobayashi and Kekuta Manneh aren’t going to keep missing open nets, as they took turns doing against Chivas USA last weekend.
This weekend’s match against the San Jose Earthquakes should also see Kenny Miller play from the start for his first road game of the season.
The Scottish designated player was restricted to the substitute’s bench against Chivas after head coach Martin Rennie decided playing him for a full 90-minute match would be irresponsible so soon after the 33-year-old participated in World Cup qualifying action with his country.
Whether Miller could have played from the start after his transatlantic flight isn’t of relevance now, but what is clear is that the former Rangers man gave his side a major lift alongside fellow sub Erik Hurtado after his introduction in the 58th minute, scoring just six minutes later with a well-taken header.
Having his presence, poaching ability and work ethic back for a full game should make a major difference for the ‘Caps on Saturday – while the Whitecaps have an even five goals for and five goals against overall this season, when Miller has been on the field the ‘Caps have four goals for and one goal against.
Miller isn’t wholly responsible for that record of course and in a team game involving as many players as soccer does, those sorts of stats have limited value. But it does say something about how the team plays as a whole when the veteran is on the pitch.
And, speaking of veterans on pitches, how the Whitecaps would love to have a healthy Jay DeMerit right about now. There have been times when the ‘Caps have looked exposed at the back in a major way in their two opening road losses, and while Rennie has talked up the play of Brad Rusin and played down the significance of DeMerit’s loss, they sure could have used his organizational skills out there the past two weekends.
Rusin has looked solid, but whether he does as much organizing as DeMerit did is questionable, as it seems opposing teams always find a way to get a player or two open in the box.
Those sort of mental lapses at the back simply won’t go unpunished against the likes of the shifty Chris Wondolowski this weekend, so regardless if the team is missing out on DeMerit, it better find a way to survive on the road without him fairly quickly.
But, overall, while road life hasn’t been positive in the early going from a results perspective, if the Whitecaps continue to play as they are, their process will come good and they should pick up plenty of points on their travels.