Yesterday, in my article for Total MLS, I discussed the upcoming month of August for the Whitecaps. It is without question the most important month in their MLS history. Heading into the month, injuries aren’t too much of a problem but by months end the story could be very different. The only current injuries of note are Mauro Rosales who will likely miss two weeks with groin pull and Sam Adekugbe who is still rehabbing his ankle. Pedro Morales made his return in the San Jose match on the weekend but his injuries have been a reoccurring theme this season so we shall see how much of a role he has over the next month.
August includes 5 crucial MLS regular season matches against strong teams, 2 crucial championship matches against the Impact, and a crucial CCL match versus heated rivals the Seattle Sounders. I’m not sure if made myself clear about how crucial August is for the Whitecaps.
You can bet David Ousted is up for the task. His back four are on the ball, even Kah is playing well. The midfield is hit and miss. But what about the strikers? The good news is that Octavio Rivero scored on the weekend, okay it was a pk but still, it has to be a building block for his confidence. Lately, finding the back of the net hasn’t been a cake walk for the DP striker, but his size and experience means his holdup play is second to none. The goals will come for the Uruguayan, and with 8 already he is on pace to be crowned the Whitecaps Golden Boot winner. With the return of Morales, his goal production could take off again. Unfortunately, the Whitecaps have few goal scoring threats and much of the responsibility to produce lies solely on Rivero’s shoulders.
I must express my disappointment that Robert Earnshaw rarely sees the pitch. Earnshaw became an instant Vancouver hero when he scored the winner versus the Timbers, but since he has barely seen the pitch. This is increasing confusing since Erik Hurtado makes frequent substitute appearances. It is a sad day when Hurtado must play saviour. The young striker just doesn’t have what it takes to be a MLS striker. He was on a roll last summer but those days are long gone. With the likes of Richmond native, Caleb Clarke notching 6 goals to his name in the USL, it is time he was given a chance to make an impact for the senior team.
Kekuta Manneh stands side-by-side with Rivero as the other most reliable goal scorer. Scooter has produced this season scoring 4 goals. His biggest problem remains to be the same as it was last season. His love for running at defenders can be both breathtaking and infuriating. He will undoubtedly continue to be a focal point in the attack for Robbo’s team since the Welshmen continues to refuse to change his formation from a 4-2-3-1. I’m honestly getting tired of writing articles imploring Robbo to try a 4-4-2 diamond. This tactical change would allow a second striker to draw defenders away from Rivero allowing him to make unmarked runs. In the current formation, he is often all alone in front of four defenders who can watch him like a hawk. This makes the Whitecaps predictable and it is their weakness.
Mattocks has, and always will be a player who fans either love or hate. The Jamaican international returns to the Whitecaps after scoring 2 vital goals for his country at the Gold Cup. His stock is rising and clubs will have noticed. Do the ‘Caps sell while they can get something valuable in return? Or do they hold on to him? They will certainly need his services during August, and they will not shop him unless they have a replacement ready to sign on the dotted line. Names have been thrown around on the web. Bobby Samora has popped up again. Honestly, I don’t believe it has any truth to it. Samora is not the kind of player the ‘Caps need, especially since they already have Earnshaw on the books and hardly utilize him.
So it could very well mean that Mattocks remains with the team until December or later. This might not be a bad thing. Before he left for the Gold Cup, Mattocks was beginning to look like his old self. Most importantly, he was getting himself into good scoring positions, which is one of his best traits. If he can transfer his Gold Cup form to his club then this could prove to be a win-win for both he and the club in the long run. One thing is for sure, with the crazy month of August almost upon us, he will get his chance.