Sports Soccer

Vancouver Whitecaps coach making gutsy calls 0

By Tyler Green, 24 hours Vancouver, soccer columnist

Columbus Crew midfielder Tony Tchani (6) and Vancouver Whitecaps forward/midfielder Erik Hurtado (19) battle for position on the ball at Crew Stadium. Vancouver won the game 1-0, May 10, 2014; Columbus, OH. (Photo: Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports)

Columbus Crew midfielder Tony Tchani (6) and Vancouver Whitecaps forward/midfielder Erik Hurtado (19) battle for position on the ball at Crew Stadium. Vancouver won the game 1-0, May 10, 2014; Columbus, OH. (Photo: Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports)

Vancouver Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson is proving to be bold, gutsy and seemingly right at every turn.

On the weekend, Robinson made a fairly bold move to start Erik Hurtado as a lone striker against the Columbus Crew after Darren Mattocks went down with a hamstring injury and Kenny Miller’s contract was mutually terminated.

The move was met with some confusion by fans, anger by others, but most just couldn’t get over Hurtado’s elephant-like touch on the ball during his short Whitecaps career.

What we ended up seeing was a sublime touch from the 23-year-old striker in the 37th minute to score his first-ever Major League Soccer goal. It gave the Whitecaps the lead, which they never relinquished.

It was Vancouver’s first win on the road this year and gave the team confidence they could win playing their style away from home.

Robinson also went with an inspired lineup last week when he played numerous youngsters and residency products against Toronto FC in the first leg of the Amway Canadian Championship semifinal.

While the ‘Caps didn’t win the match, they did put themselves in good position for the return leg in Vancouver today, and gave the big guns of TFC a run for their money.

Robinson — in his first season in the role of head coach — also gave everyone a glimpse into the future of Whitecaps players, and it certainly looks bright.

What the 37-year-old Welshman is doing for Vancouver is building the confidence of the young players by giving them opportunities to play in situations where they can be successful. In turn, those players are rewarding Robinson’s efforts with positive play, and winning and tying matches.

Those young players are given a chance to prove that they deserve to be in the starting 11 each and every week. Ten matches into the MLS season, it seems to be working.

There’s still a lot of soccer to be played in MLS this year and the Whitecaps haven’t yet advanced to the finals of the Voyageurs Cup. But while Vancouver still hasn’t won anything, if Robinson keeps doing what he’s doing, we might be in for one hell of a finish to 2014.

Tyler hosts SOCCER TALK on AM650 Radio, heard Saturday nights at 10 p.m. to midnight. Follow Tyler online at www.tylergreen.org and on twitter @tylergreenFC.

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