By Jim Morris, The Canadian Press
VANCOUVER – The Vancouver Whitecaps’s inability to close out games had coach Carl Robinson feeling a bit ill-tempered.
Robinson’s team has just one win and five draws in its last eight Major League Soccer games. It’s a trend Robinson hopes to change Wednesday night when the Whitecaps (6-4-10) play the struggling Chicago Fire (3-5-11) at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Ill.
“I am sick of draws to be honest,” an unusually testy Robinson said before the Whitecaps boarded a plane to Chicago. “I’m sick of them because we are so close to winning games.
“I think we should have won more game than we have drawn.”
The Welsh-born coach’s health didn’t receive much relief Sunday when the Whitecaps blasted a franchise-record 30 shots at the FC Dallas goal but settled for a 2-2 draw, Vancouver’s 10th tie of the season. That left Robinson, who sat up until 3 a.m. Monday analyzing the game, with a glass-half-full feeling.
“I’m delighted we created that many chances,” he sighed. “If teams create that many chances you should score more.”
The Whitecaps sit sixth in the crowded Western Conference standings. They are one spot out of the playoffs but are just three points removed from third place. Vancouver is 1-2-5 in their last eight games with the lone victory coming at home against Seattle.
Goalkeeper David Ousted said the draws are better than losses but the Whitecaps need wins if they hope to make the playoffs for the second time in three years.
“Our road form has been good,” said Ousted, who has played every minute of Vancouver’s league games so far. “We have some good draws but we need to try and be even more aggressive and try and win in some of these road games.
“I think we are good enough to get some of these wins.”
The Whitecaps haven’t played poorly, just not good enough to win. Vancouver has held a lead in their previous four games but is 0-1-2 over that span. Mistakes and mental lapses have proven costly.
Dallas scored its goals on a Whitecaps defensive breakdown and on a penalty kick after Vancouver defender Carlyle Mitchell was called for a hand ball during a mix up with Ousted.
Robinson shouldered some of the blame.
“It is young players learning,” said the 37-year-old first-year coach. “It’s a young manager learning as well.
“We’ve got penalized for one or two mistakes. Dallas in my eyes didn’t come to win the game. They came to be difficult to beat.”
Defender Jordan Harvey said the Whitecaps haven’t rolled over.
“These last few games have been difficult ones, some of them on the road where teams push,” said the Mission Viejo, Calif., native. “The most important thing is we are in every single game we have played this year.
“We just need to get those chances in the goal.”
Chicago, managed by former Canadian national team head coach Frank Yallop, have struggled this season and sit eighth in the Eastern Conference. The Fire were beaten 5-1 by San Jose in their last game and are 1-2-5 in their last eight matches.
On paper it looks like a chance for Vancouver to pick up a win, but Ousted said there are no easy games in MLS.
“I think they are a wounded animal right now,” said the native of Greve, Denmark. “They are home and they want to beat us and climb the standings.
“This is going to be a tough game.”
There have been some bright spots for Vancouver. Speedy Jamaican striker Darren Mattocks has scored goals in three consecutive games and could have had two more against Dallas.
Pedro Morales continues to establish himself as a rising star. The Chilean forward had a mind-boggling 12 shots on goal against Dallas and collected his team-leading seventh goal. He used his ball-handling skills and feather passes to control play.
“He seems to be just getting better and better,” said Robinson. “He makes players around him better and he’s a joy to watch. He does things with the ball that not many people are able to do.”
The Whitecaps may be struggling for wins but their four losses leaves them tied with Real Salt Lake and the L.A. Galaxy for least among MLS teams.
Harvey believes the team is ready to turn a corner.
“Those chances will go in eventually,” he said. “I think the most important things is we are competing, every single game.
“We need to get three points everything single game at home. We’ve let points slip away, through mistakes (and) also through things where we shot ourselves in the foot. We are more than capable of making the playoffs.”
Vancouver’s 10 draws this year is second most in MLS. Only Chicago has more with 11.
Robinson regained his sense of humour when asked to predict a score against the Fire.
“Probably a 1-1 draw,” he said with a smile.