VANCOUVER, BC — Thanks to the heroics of Fredy Montero and goalkeeper Zac MacMath, the Vancouver Whitecaps collected three points by beating the Houston Dynamo 2-1 Saturday.
It was only Vancouver’s fifth win at home and seventh overall in 31 games this season. For fans, the victory provided a rare glimmer of success in an otherwise dreadful season. And for head coach Marc Dos Santos, the game came very close to his tactical ideal.
Ahead of the season, Dos Santos spoke in great length about wanting to play a brand of soccer with key principles of passing and high ball possession. He wanted an attacking style of play with the Whitecaps dominating games.
Those key principles have only been on display in flashes throughout the season, but against the Houston Dynamo, they could be witnessed for large parts of the game. Halfway through the first half, the Whitecaps had 63% ball possession and led with 187 completed passes compared to Houston’s 115.
“Yes, it was,” Dos Santos said when asked whether that stretch of the game reflected his ideal. “There were a lot of signs in the last three games of how I want us to look much more since the Montreal game, but there were flashes in the game against Seattle at home, LAFC at home and Portland at home.
“There were moments in the season, but not with the consistency of maybe the last three games.”
The problem, however, has been carrying the possession game through 90 minutes. On Saturday, the Whitecaps were dominant until they took the lead, and then withdrew and handed over command. The game ended with 52% ball possession in Houston’s favor. The Dynamo also outshot the Whitecaps 6-18 and completed 387 passes to Vancouver’s 372.
It was not the first time this season the Whitecaps surrendered the game after taking a lead. Heading into the match, no other team in Major League Soccer had dropped more points after taking a lead than the Whitecaps.
#VWFC lead the league with points dropped from winning positions. I wrote a couple weeks ago that we have seen glimpses of what MDS wants to do with the #Whitecaps but that they just can't sustain it over 90 minutes. https://t.co/dwdFN5t1Op
— Manuel Veth (@ManuelVeth) September 12, 2019
The main question for the rest of the season and going into the new year is: How can the Whitecaps carry a confident performance through to the final whistle?
“It is a fair question,” Dos Santos said. “I feel we scored and then there is this [feeling] that we want to win so much that there is a little bit of fear of now we don’t want to concede.
“It’s not the plan of the coach to say: ‘We scored now everybody back.’ We don’t do that. It is not how we want to be.”