Gored by the Toros: What went wrong?
By Jon Szekeres
Stop me if you've heard this one before: The Vancouver Whitecaps did poorly on the road on the weekend. Seems like a running theme, doesn't it? Well, it did happen again, with the boys in blue and white falling 2-0 to FC Dallas. It wasn't an abhorrent match, with the 'Caps falling victim to a few unlucky bounces. That being said, it was an avoidable loss, and most of the blame has to fall at the feet of the Head Coach. I don't want to spoil the list, so let's take a look at What Went Wrong for the Vancouver Whitecaps.
1) Lineup was a mess
The media has essentially given Martin Rennie a pass for his lineup decisions this season, praising him for getting valuable playing time for his younger players. However, one has to wonder what was going through his head on Saturday. His attacking unit up front included Tommy Heinemann, Erik Hurtado and Matt Watson. Watson was subbing in for Daigo Kobyashi, who was left back in Vancouver for rest, so we can give him a pass on that one. However, it left a slew of regulars on the bench, making fans wonder what the hell was going on. Why play a squad of backups against the top team in the conference? Why sit Camilo after he had a wonderful match against RSL? Why continue to sit your most dynamic player in Darren Mattocks? It was an inexcusable, bone-headed lineup that crippled the Vancouver attack. Lastly, can someone explain to me how Erik Hurtado keeps finding himself in the starting lineup? He looked above average in the Toronto FC match, and has looked ineffective ever since. How on Earth does he keep finding himself in the good graces of Rennie? For God's sake, Hurtado was even taking free kicks and corners! It's unbelievable. I don't care if Rennie has a problem with Mattocks or Camilo at this point; these are your stars, your money makers. Put them on the pitch and let them earn it. Coaching wise, this was easily the worst match of Martin Rennie's Whitecaps career.
2) The Old Guy's still got it
Yes, this post is supposed to be about bad things, but how about the play of Joe Cannon? The crafty veteran, who was all but left for dead when Brad Knighton unseated him last year, has upped his play to an elite level. He made three separate, incredible saves in the first half of the match, saving what could have been a blowout win for the Toros. Cannon was the lone bright spot for the Whitecaps in the Dallas match, and his teammates really should be embarrassed for how they left him out to dry. I don't know how much gas Joe Cannon has left in the tank, but he has easily been the backbone of the team for the last few matches. Ageless.
3) The Road is Kryptonite
The Whitecaps road record is starting to get ridiculous. I understand that winning on the road isn't easy, and most players enjoy the comfy confines of their home pitch. However, these are professionals that are getting paid fair sums of money to produce and win matches. This isn't a roster full of borderline MLS players either; the Whitecaps have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to the level of potential they have on their squad. It's still relatively early in the season, but with this road record, and Martin Rennie's questionable decisions, we might start to see some heads rolling sooner rather than later.