The 1-0 victory over the Houston Dynamo was certainly a welcome tonic for the Vancouver Whitecaps and their fans, but every game from now until the end of the season also has a sub-text; what nuggets of information has future coach Martin Rennie learned from the game?
Here are five that he may have picked up during the game on Saturday;
The Whitecaps can play solid defence- De Merit and Rochat being paired together at the back meant that any Houston threats came from outside the area, a far cry from recent games where the central defence has been all too easily breached by a simple pass. True there were occasions when Leathers and Cannon seemed at odds about who should be dealing with a loose ball, but there was at least a foundation to build on.
The starting formation was wrong- Playing three central midfielders and Chiumiento in a free role didn’t work. It allowed the Dynamo to dominate the midfield and to pepper the Vancouver goal with long range shots. To his credit Tom Soehn quickly changed to a more traditional 4-4-2 and the game became much more even with Koffie having one of his better games in some time, both breaking up attacks and creating chances.
Long Tan could be a useful player- His ten minute cameo performance at the end gave a glimpse of a forward that could have an impact for the club. True he was playing against a back-line that was tiring but he set up Shea Salinas for the goal, created another chance for Hassli and looked the most composed of all the offensive players on the pitch. Rennie may actually find that he has an abundance of attacking talent at his disposal next season
Hassli and Jarju haven’t developed an understanding- It doesn’t mean that they won’t of course but the signs weren’t good against Houston. Some forward pairings instinctively know which way each other will pass and run from day one of being together; this is categorically not the case with Eric Hassli and Mustapha Jarju, and you would struggle to think of one occasion where they linked up effectively to threaten the opposition goal. This may all be irrelevant as the Gambian may be better suited to a midfield role anyway or Rennie may decide that two Designated Players that don’t work together is a luxury that he can’t afford.
Davide Chiumiento may be more dispensable than Shea Salinas- Chiumiento constituted Vancouver’s main threat during the early stages of the game, but this was mainly through set pieces rather than moments of creativity during open play, and his influence waned dramatically as the game wore on. Salinas has probably been equally as mercurial as Chiumiento this year (although in a different way) but his pace and directness will always worry defences even if his final pass isn’t as effective as it should be. This blog has long championed him playing on the left wing rather than the right and Salinas justified this faith by scoring his first goal for the club with a calmly taken finish, earning the Whitecaps a much needed three points.
More positives than negatives for Rennie then. Let’s hope that that is the pattern for the remaing games of the season.
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