Friday, Southsider and blogger Michael McColl takes ALL CAPS “Away From
The Numbers” for a fan’s perspective on the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Vancouver Whitecaps take on Chivas USA tomorrow, looking for their first MLS away win in their 18th attempt.
After last year’s fruitless excursions, hopes are high that the drought is going to end in Carson on Saturday and we can get that particular monkey off our back.
In some ways, securing a victory against Chivas carries more importance than beating Montreal in our home opener.
Neither opponent are particularly good, and you could even be looking at the Caps kicking off their campaign against the two teams who will finish bottom of the Eastern and Western Conferences, so the quality of opposition is not what is important.
For Vancouver, a win away from home would be the first real indication that the 2012 Whitecaps are a much different animal than the one we saw last season.
A team that builds a home fortress and who can also be road warriors. We need to have both if we want to have a chance of going deep into the playoffs.
The Montreal win was great, and we played some nice attacking football, but there was still room for improvements and the current team are still a work in progress, but that’s a good thing. We don’t want to hit our peak too early or we have nowhere to go with it.
What we don’t know yet is what kind of team Martin Rennie will put out on the field for away matches. Will he go with an unchanged starting line-up and go with the exciting and attacking four frontmen, or will he try and bolster the midfield and have Jordan Harvey or Matt Watson replace Davide Chiumiento?
I’m favouring the latter option, as Chivas will be looking to control the middle of the park and we can’t afford to be weak there and let them do that.
As the Caps look to lose last year’s losing feeling on the road, the players who suffered those disappointments last season are key. They need to have the mental fortitude to battle back if they go a goal down, or if the Whitecaps attack can’t penetrate the home defence.
It’s not going to be the same old story this year and you know that Rennie and his team will have been working on that very point with those players.
So what was it that caused us to be so unsuccessful in our travels last year? It really is hard to put your finger on it, as there were some really good performances away from home. Seattle and New York spring to mind. There were also some dreadful ones, but we’ll not dwell on those.
We didn’t get the breaks, we didn’t seem to have the right mindset or tactics and the whole “no away wins” became a huge stone around our necks.
Recording four wins in Orlando pre-season will have given the team some self belief that they can go out and win on the road. Sure, these were only friendlies, but it was still four games against MLS opposition and four clean sheets.
Playing more matches against our Western Conference rivals will also help, especially the ones in the same time zone. I don’t think anything can prepare new players to MLS for the toll that travelling can take on both the player and the team.
So many of our top guys are used to it now and the shorter travel distances will most certainly help.
Vancouver only flew down to LA today, having even managed to get a final training session in at Burnaby Lake before they headed to the airport.
Getting off to a winning start for “First Kick’ was vital and a great morale booster, recording back to back wins to kick off the season would be even better.
We only managed such a feat once last season, and that was with two home games late on in the season in October.
Everything about this season’s Whitecaps is better than the 2011 version. Winning on the road is one of the last remaining boxes to tick.
If we tick it tomorrow, you get the feeling that this year could just be that little bit special and we all deserve that.
About the author:
McColl began writing about football in 1989 and has freelanced for
various newspapers, magazines and websites in the UK. He moved to
Vancouver in 2007 where he currently pens the “Away From the Numbers” blogs on Canadian Soccer News and contributes to Prost Amerika. Michael is also a member o the North American Soccer Reporters association.
a proud member of the Vancouver Southsiders supporters club, though his
views are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the