When discussing the Vancouver Whitecaps, the topic on everyone’s mind right now is goals. Unfortunately for the Blue and White, that discussion is about how they seem unable to score them.
It is the theme in vogue. And for good reason. The Whitecaps have scored only six goals in their first seven games of the season. None of those goals have come from open play. The Blue and White have only capitalized on set pieces, including four penalty kicks, one corner kick, and one free kick.
More worryingly, the ‘Caps have been unable to score at all in their past three matches. That is the longest goalless streak of any MLS team so far in 2016.
Goal conversion, as opposed to chance generation, has been the main issue in the current campaign. The Whitecaps have forced opposing goalkeepers to make a total of 37 saves in their first seven matches, an average of over five saves per game.
It is, then, the last touch, the one that ensures that the ball finds the back of the net that has forsaken this team.
But, this is not a new issue either. Since Brazilian striker Camilo won the scoring title in 2013, the Whitecaps have been looking for a player that can score on a consistent basis. A player that can turn chances into goals and, ultimately turn the frown upside down on the faces of supporters.
Many ideas and suggestions have come from couch coaches in Whitecapsland. Useful insight such as ‘fire the owner!’, ‘sit Octavio Rivero on the bench!’, and ‘just score more goals!’ have populated Twitter feeds over the past few days.
One of the common cards dropped in the suggestion box calls for the Whitecaps brass to get out there and find a new striker that can solve their scoring woes. However, is that what this team needs to score more goals?
The Whitecaps front office bolstered their attacking ranks with the addition of proven MLS goal scorer Blas Pérez, Japanese striker Masato Kudo, and winger Christian Bolaños – a two-time World Cup veteran.
These players are complementing Rivero, Cristian Techera, Kekuta Manneh, and Pedro Morales as the core group that should be scoring.
The Whitecaps have a good squad. This team finished third overall in MLS and second in the competitive Western Conference last season. The importance of retaining the key pieces of this puzzle like David Ousted, Kendall Waston, Matías Laba, and Pedro Morales in order to sustain the success of this group has been well documented.
Rivero continues to be the target of criticism due to his team’s lack of scoring. It comes with the territory.
The young Uruguayan is one of the highest paid players on the team and came with the Designated Player tag that automatically puts him into a select group of players that are held to a higher standard.
To deny that this team is currently facing issues would be naïve and dangerous. But to think that the problem is isolated to one player and the magic solution is to bring in a new striker is shortsighted. After all, all of the current strikers are proven goal scorers and even Pérez, who has proven himself over his tenure in MLS, is not scoring right now.
Some of the criticism/concern re: Rivero is justified but I'm convinced another striker would struggle with the current set-up/form. #VWFC
— Corey (@Whitecaps4Life) April 18, 2016
If the Whitecaps want to start scoring they need the majority of their players to start performing to the level that they are capable of, both individually and collectively. The talent needed is already there. This group of players has proven that they can compete and succeed in this league.
They just need to, you know, do it – which, unfortunately, is easier said than done perhaps.
If that fails, if good is not good enough anymore, then calling in the cavalry would be the next item in the to-do list. But for now, patience is the most appropriate approach.