Sports

Time for Whitecaps to panic? 0

TYLER GREEN, soccer columnist for 24 hours Vancouver

Is it too soon to hit the panic button? After two consecutive losses in league play, should the Vancouver Whitecaps FC be scrambling to hit it?

With just three wins in their last 12 matches, there are indeed reasons to worry.

In 2011, Vancouver scored 35 goals in 34 matches, worst in MLS. This season the 'Caps aren't much better, scoring a mere 28 goals through 26 matches.

New designated player Kenny Miller has yet to find the back of the net. According to the MLS statistics, the 32-year-old Scotsman hasn't even registered a shot on target. Perhaps the curse of the No. 7 jersey continues. If anything, having started two matches, as well as a substitute in three for a total of 220 minutes played, plus a reserve match performance, means the "it's still pre-season" excuse is running out of steam.

Another concern is passing percentage. According to OptaJack, a sports statistics company that covers soccer in North America, the 'Caps have completed 76.7% of their passes in MLS 2012 (10th best), and 58.3% in the final third of games (15th best).

Such stats are not great for a team looking to make the post-season, let alone do something in the playoffs. Again, the final-third stat is something of a worry, but perhaps not surprising for a team struggling to score more than one goal a match.

Key players for the Whitecaps also keep missing games. It continued this past weekend in Seattle with midfielder Barry Robson getting a late suspension from the league's disciplinary committee, and defender Martin Bonjour suspended for yellow card offences.

Jun Marques Davidson and Darren Mattocks are also both one card away from suspension, while midfielder Gershon Koffie sat out last week for that very reason. The cards are finally catching up with Vancouver at a key point in the season.

On Tuesday, the league announced that Koffie will be suspended one game again, this time for "endangering the safety" of Seattle's Andy Rose late in Saturday's match.

The Whitecaps are one of the worst disciplined teams in the league, currently sitting third in the discipline point ranking. In this case, higher points are not actually a good thing.

In addition, where have the weekly MLS awards gone? Last season the 'Caps picked up one Player of the Week and two Goal of the Week awards. This year, they haven't won either.

With just eight matches remaining, the Whitecaps are still five points clear and holding down the final playoff spot in the MLS Western Conference.

While it's not quite time to push the panic button, if Vancouver loses to Portland, one of the worst teams in MLS, on Saturday in the Rose City, it certainly will be time for fans to wonder what's happened after a disastrous summer.

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.


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