Whitecaps can learn from defensive breakdown

Tyler Green, soccer columnist for 24 hours Vancouver

The Vancouver Whitecaps FC were soundly beaten by the San Jose Earthquakes last weekend. They did however achieve a Major League Soccer record for consecutive minutes without allowing a goal to start a season at 427 minutes.

Problem was, after they got the record, the 'Caps gave up three goals in quick succession.

Losing the game though, however, might actually be beneficial for the second-year team.

The Whitecaps got off to a strong start this season, two wins and two draws without allowing a goal in their first four matches. Despite the impressive record, the 'Caps revealed various cracks on their defence.

They required two MLS Save of the Week performances from goalie Joe Cannon, and needed midfielder Davide Chiumiento and defender Y.P. Lee to make some tremendous goal-line clearances to ensure the clean sheets.

The shutout streak overshadowed the cracks in defence, and maybe gave the Whitecaps a bit of over-confidence and false sense of security.

So that 10-minute span on Saturday against San Jose where they gave up three goals might just prove to be beneficial. Whitecaps head coach Martin Rennie can now look back at the video, talk with the coaches and realize that they can still improve dramatically.

Whether it was mental lapses, a system breakdown or shear luck, Rennie will now be able to adjust his squad for the better and get the entire defensive unit refocused to set up another run of clean sheets.

Until the offensive side of the ball starts to pick up for the Whitecaps, which did show signs of waking up on Saturday, clean sheets are going to be the bread and butter for Vancouver to earn points.

With shutouts, the team will be able to secure points in a Western Conference that seems completely backwards.

Just look at last years' MLS Cup Champions, LA Galaxy, currently in last place and David Beckham on the bench.

So while a loss may be a disappointing result, it will make for an even better performance in one week's time when Vancouver faces the very dangerous Sporting Kansas City at BC Place.

With the Whitecaps off this weekend, let's look at the first five matches in this version of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

The Good: How is setting a MLS record for consecutive minutes without allowing a goal to start a season at 427 minutes anything but good?

The Bad: Scoring is still not clicking with four goals in five matches.

The Ugly: He was better on Saturday, but Eric Hassli is still trying to find his first goal in 2012.

Listen to Tyler Green on TEAM 1040 every Sunday at 9 p.m. He also co-hosts the Whitecaps pre- and post-game shows. Follow him on Twitter @tylergreen1040.