So we’ve learned that the Whitecaps can defend in a pinch.
The big worry ahead of next week’s playoff wild-card game in Los Angeles is a matter of confidence in the Whitecaps’ road performance. Can they fight on the road? Can they pull off a result? On a national stage, will the game be more like the testy 1-1 draw in Vancouver, or the shameful 3-0 drubbing from last July?
Going by Saturday’s 0-0 draw against Real Salt Lake, we know the Whitecaps, at least, can hold on for a draw away, and even if they don’t score, a 0-0 draw in Los Angeles through 120 minutes will send them to penalties. But what we still don’t know is how they intend to score a goal if they ever fall behind.
The biggest surprise in the starting line-up Dane Richards and Darren Mattocks were swapped in on attack for Barry Robson and Kenny Miller. Whether it was a rest for the Scots or a concession to those worried that the new Designated Players aren’t clicking, it makes it clear that the real problem in the Whitecaps attack is distribution.
The ‘Caps have to find a way to get people the ball. Richards and Mattocks had an okay, but unspectacular day (though Mattocks came so close with his disallowed goal); Robson and Miller, who replaced the Jamaican duo, fared no better. So that’s the real question; can they figure it out against LA? If they concede, can they come back from that?
The good news is that the defensive game is working. The Whitecaps parked the bus, and of RSL’s 17 shots, only three hit the goal, and all were saved. Y.P. Lee continues to be good, but tired, and Jordan Harvey was not the strongest, but at the very least it worked.
And that at least solves a problem for the Whitecaps. If they play like this in California, they can keep it close, and that means there’s reason to hope, and that hope will only be stronger if they score a goal.
Stats after the jump.