Long after his club had salvaged a 1-1 tie Saturday at BC Place against Real Salt Lake, Vancouver Whitecaps head coach Martin Rennie was spotted sitting on a trainer’s table in the locker-room chatting with Dr. David Cox.
Cox is the team’s psychologist and Rennie had only moments before finished a post-game session with the media for which the good doctor surely would have given him the thumbs up.
You see Rennie, to the delight we’re sure of his players, friends and family, is one of those guys who views games, and presumably his life, through the kind of prism of positivity espoused by Cox.
Personally, we applaud him for it. We’re actually jealous. We genuinely wish we could do the same. But professionally, it can be just a little aggravating to listen to Rennie strive to paint a rosier picture than seems warranted.
The ’Caps are winless in four – 0-2-2 – after opening the season with back-to-back home victories. And consecutive 1-1 ties were only salvaged through goals that resulted from a huge dose of good fortune. (See the Earthquakes’ boot-change fiasco in San Jose.)
Down 1-0 on Saturday despite outplaying Real Salt Lake, the ’Caps were finally handed a lifeline in the 83rd minute. RSL defender Nat Borchers, in solid position in the box to handle a short back pass from teammate Tony Beltran, slipped to all fours and had the ball carom off his arm for a penalty.
Camilo, who could easily have had two or three goals by that time if not for RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando and some poor finish, calmly slotted the ball just inside the post as Rimando guessed the other side.
“I just want to score, to find the net again,” said Camilo of his first goal of the season. “But I want more, I want to win the game. I have a couple of chances (in first half) and I need to score. We play a very good game, but we need to score. We have to do better in the final third.”
The ’Caps had a couple of decent chances late to win the game, most noticeably on a Kekuta Manneh cross to the far post that was just over the head of an unmarked Darren Mattocks, who was dangerous as a second-half substitute for Corey Hertzog.
But it was RSL that had the best late chance, Borchers’ header off a corner in the final seconds of stoppage time tipped over the bar by leaping ’Caps keeper Joe Cannon.
It was the second time in two weeks that the ’Caps came within inches of losing games under corner kick pressure following defensive miscues in stoppage time. In this case it was a weak back pass by Alain Rochat that was intercepted and led to the corner. And it was six-foot-four Brad Rusin who Borchers out-leaped in the box.
Asked if that concerned him, Rennie channelled his inner Cox.
“I think that’s a glass very half-empty approach because just before that we had multiple chances. It all depends on your perspective. If you want to go down that road you can.”
Well, we really prefer not to go down Negativity Ave., but going winless in four games while scoring just four goals in that stretch does raise some questions. Especially with a visit to Western Conference-leading FC Dallas on the horizon.
“I’m not concerned at all,” insisted Rennie. “I feel very good about how we’re doing. It’s been a good start to the season without us playing wildly amazing. We’ve been doing well in every game we’ve played ... and we’re not really clicking yet. We’ve dominated large parts of every game ... but we do need to take our chances when they come along.”
Ah, yes, those missed chances.
Camilo, the bustling Brazilian, seems to be finding his mojo and young Canadian midfielder Russell Teibert was terrific in his second consecutive start in place of Gershon Koffie. He linked up very well with veteran Nigel Reo-Coker, who was aggressive all game in demanding the ball and making strong runs.
But with Kenny Miller, the ‘Caps only two-goal scorer this season, missing another game to a hamstring injury, the finish was left wanting. Again.
The ’Caps generated 16 shots to RSL’s four, with Rimando credited with six saves, a few of them of the spectacular variety. “Sometimes you come up against a goalkeeper who’s having a great, great afternoon, and that happened to us today,” said Rennie.
At other times this season, the inability to convert quality chances has been blamed on poor technique, a lack of lethal instinct or simply bad luck.
“I think it’s just a matter of time until our luck changes,” said a hopeful Reo-Coker. “It’s not something you have to say ‘Oh you have to play on the training ground harder,’ or put a lot of emphasis on it.
“I’ve been in these situations before. All you can do is continue in the same vein and our luck will turn around.”
But do they have the money players to make that happen?
“The last little part of the game is down to players putting the ball in the back of the net,” said Rennie. “Those that do that become very rich and very wealthy and very famous.
“You can get lucky sometimes. But to be a consistently good goal scorer ... it’s up to our players to become that if that’s what they’ve got the hunger and the desire and the work rate to do. I believe, on this team, they’ll get the chances to make it happen.”