Vancouver Whitecaps head coach Carl Robinson admits he’s walking a thin line between concern and worry.
The Whitecaps (4-5-3) have managed just one win in their last seven matches (1-4-2). In the last two games Vancouver dominated play and generated plenty of scoring chances but lacked the finish to put opponents away.
The problem was compounded by goals surrendered due to defensive lapses. In both games the Whitecaps needed second-half goals to overcome deficits and settle for 2-2 draws.
“Does it concern me? Yes,” said Robinson. “Am I worried? No. We just have to continue and hopefully we will get a little bit of luck along the way.”
The Whitecaps will be looking for better finish and some improved defensive play when they face FC Dallas (4-1-4) Saturday afternoon at Toyota Stadium.
Robinson believes the Vancouver offence needs some tinkering, not a major overhaul. The Whitecaps have created scoring opportunities but too often long runs or passes falling at the feet of open players have ended in shots going wide or kicks sailing over the top of the net.
"Frustrated. No more words. We wanted to win. That's it."
— Vancouver Whitecaps (@WhitecapsFC) May 17, 2018
“We need to go back to the drawing board on our finishing,” said the former Welsh international.
“That’s the worrying thing but it’s a positive as well. We are creating but we just have to hit the target more.”
Midfielder Felipe said the Whitecaps need more confidence around the net.
“We can’t hide from that,” said the 27-year-old Brazilian. “We are creating on set pieces, we are creating on plays, we are creating in the box. It’s just the ball can’t go in.
“I believe the team has to get confidence. In the beginning we weren’t creating. Now we are creating a lot of chances. We just need to capitalize.”
With 12 games gone in their season, the Whitecaps head into the weekend fourth in the Western Conference with 15 points. That’s one less than third-place Dallas and a point ahead of the Portland Timbers.
Vancouver has faced a heavy travel schedule early in the season, with this weekend their seventh road game. The team has also dealt with injuries to key players like goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic, strikers Kei Kamara and Anthony Blondell, and midfielder Jordon Mutch.
“I’ve dealt with a little bit of everything, the good, the bad and the ugly,” said Robinson. “There are areas we need to improve and there are areas that we are working hard to improve.
“When we play we need a little bit of luck. I don’t think we are getting the luck we deserve at the moment. We are missing too many chances. If we continue to do that (create chances) the luck will turn, and we will pick up some more points.”
The match in Dallas will be Vancouver’s third game in nine days. Robinson is expected to make some lineup changes to add fresh legs.
“It’s challenging, you have to deal with it,” said Robinson. “You have to accept it and you have to embrace it and we will.
“That’s why I will put some freshness in the team. We know it’s going to be difficult. We need to take our chances when they come along.”
Marinovic is expected to miss at least two more games with a knee sprain, meaning backup goalkeeper Brian Rowe will start in Dallas. Blondell is healthy again but didn’t play in Wednesday’s 2-2 draw against San Jose. Players like forward Erik Hurtado and defender Brett Levis might be tapped.
Captain Kendall Waston said the Whitecaps must be disciplined, especially with a temperate of around 34 degrees predicted.
“They are accustomed to that weather,” said Waston. “We have to play very intelligent. Don’t rush from the beginning. We have to keep the tempo.
“We run like crazy for 10 minutes we die.”
Dallas FC has a 3-0-3 home record this season, but like Vancouver has settled for some draws in games they should have won.
“We’re not panicking,” midfielder Kellyn Acosta told the Dallas website. “Some of those draws you want to get back because you missed out on some points.
“We know at home we come out strong.”
Jim Morris, The Canadian Press