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Vancouver Whitecaps’ tough road to playoffs now even more daunting

 

VANCOUVER — Another late goal, another disappointment as the Vancouver Whitecaps dropped three crucial points in their race for the MLS Cup playoffs with a 2-1 defeat to FC Dallas during the weekend. 

The Whitecaps dominated in the final third during the match, but failed to capitalize from various chances created. Here are three talking points from Vancouver’s defeat to FC Dallas.

FC Dallas more efficient, Whitecaps switch off

Late conceded goals have been a trend for the Whitecaps for quite some time. One week ago, Vancouver conceded late against Seattle to give away a point.

This week, it was another late point dropped when Matt Hedges scored the winner in the 87′ minute. 

Head coach Carl Robinson was fired Tuesday after taking responsibility for the team’s mental lapses. 

“There are periods of these games. We don’t have enough talkers to switch on. The five minutes on each end of the half that is my responsibility,” Robinson said after the game. 

Vancouver is now fighting late in the season for a spot in the playoffs for the second consecutive year. The Caps had the toughest road schedule in the entire league this year. Add to that a deep run in the Concacaf Champions League last season, and Vancouver squad has a lot of miles under its belt. That could explain some of the late mistakes. What it does not explain is the inefficiency in front of goal. In that department, Vancouver lacks depth. 

Carl Robinson shoulders the blame

“The buck stops with me, I’m the manager, I’m the leader – we lost today because of me,” Robinson told reporters after the game.

What was the head coach eluding though, however? Because in truth, his tactical switch to take off Brett Levis for Nicolas Mezquida helped the Whitecaps in the second half. 

With Mezquida on, Alphonso Davies played as a left back in the second half and the 17-year-old was able to assist on the equalizer. Furthermore, sitting a bit deeper gave more depth to Vancouver’s attacking play. 

The real problem was that Vancouver lacks an attacking outlet aside from Kei Kamara. There is no depth in attack, with most of Vancouver’s forwards being dribblers rather than finishers. 

Hence, Robinson’s comments were interesting.

If he was not to blame tactically, was the head coach simply trying to protect his players? Was he is alluding to the way the squad was put together ahead of the season? 

Robinson did not specify, and now the answer is moot since he is no longer with the club.

The tough road ahead

When asked about the Whitecaps upcoming match against the LA Galaxy, Robinson said “it was always going to be” tough.

It will be a little tougher now with interim coach Craig Dalrymple — the club’s academy technical director — now leading the team into the Galaxy match.

LA Galaxy beating Seattle Sounders was good news, on the one hand, on the other hand, it also meant that the Galaxy leapfrogged the Whitecaps in the standings and are right back in the playoff race.

Vancouver has a tough road schedule ahead, facing first the Galaxy and then Toronto. The Caps then come back home before they see out the season against LAFC on the road and Portland Timbers at home on the final matchday. 

“We keep fighting. Funny things happen in football. There is always a surprise in the East and West, and maybe it is us,” Robinson said. “Keep fighting individually and collectively. Doesn’t matter how you play as long as you get the points.”

But the fight will go on without him.

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