Gallagher: Speed in spades, but Whitecaps need help finishing
Vancouver could also use a solid central defender
It’s no secret the Vancouver Whitecaps need a striker who can finish and a central defender to really upgrade their team for the future, but that’s going to have to wait until they can off-load some less-than-productive veterans off the books next year to free up nearly $700,000.
With Jay DeMerit retiring, there’s only Nigel Reo-Coker and Andy O’Brien to off-load. The Caps will want to spend a little more wisely than perhaps they have in the past and repair for good the Camilo fiasco that still casts its shadow on the squad.
But in the meantime, the transfer window is closing Aug. 8 with very little fresh air getting into Vancouver lineup, so far at least.
So if the Caps are going to capitalize a little more on the chances their speed up front seems to be able to deliver on a fairly regular basis — and almost always at home — it’s going to have to take a little more patience and poise by the players involved.
Both Darren Mattocks and Pedro Morales spoke about being calm in such situations when you have control in scoring position, but as in any sport, when the moment of truth is at hand, poise in these situations is easier discussed than developed.
A lot of strikers have that natural knack to stay relaxed and give their best at the right moment but sadly, they’re generally not in this league. The ones that are in MLS have flaws, and while speed is in abundance here to create chances, the much discussed finish is often disappointingly sandpaper.
“These guys have been fantastic in finding me all the time and there’s a lot of guys that can do that,” says Mattocks, clearly flattering his teammates for the chances he’s getting. “It’s down to me that when I get in front of goal to be more composed. There are things I can do physically to improve, but sometimes I’m going to get chances and miss, and other times I put it away.
“I’m never going to be perfect, nor will I ever be satisfied. I’m going to always be trying to keep getting better.”
Morales, who has certainly scored his share of goals this year (six in 18 games), not to mention made his share of deliveries to Mattocks and a struggling Erik Hurtado and the rest, is probably used to dealing with better finishers but seems happy with the work level and professionalism of the players he’s joined in MLS after coming from Malaga, Spain.
“We’re doing things right, we’re generating a lot of chances during the games but our guys have to be more calm in the final stages of the play,” the 29-year-old says. “They have great qualities but they have to be more relaxed in that situation. Experience in having been in those situations a lot helps to develop a fast technique, and all of our guys are willing to work until those opportunities begin to occur more naturally.”
Whatever frustrations he might be feeling by the all the balls wide or over the posts, it hasn’t affected his deportment toward the situation here. He is evidently seeing a ton of promise in many of the younger athletes around him.
“I’ve scored some goals but I’m a tactical player trying to open up space for the forwards and give vision,” says Morales, adding that he didn’t follow MLS much while in Spain.
“When I did get here I realized it’s quite competitive and very physical with strong players. That was the hardest thing for me to adapt to, the strength of the players. But the rest ... the Whitecaps organization is better than Malaga and I’ve adapted well to my teammates. The city is great and I hope to stay here a long time.”
More goals leading to more entertainment for the fans and wins in front of the home enthusiasts would certainly make the single road points the Caps have been producing lately look a lot better and make Morales feel even happier about his decision to come here.
But when that happens, or if it happens at all this year, is anyone’s guess.
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