What we learned vs. Seattle Sounders FC

Are the 'Caps becoming an elite team? Valentine weighs in

TWO ONE Celebration

Photo Credit: 
Bob Frid/Vancouver Whitecaps FC

Our ‘Caps put in a top-notch performance against Cascadia rival Seattle Sounders FC but had to settle for a 2-2 draw Saturday at BC Place.

So, what did we learn?

Hurtado with great poise and a great finish from close-range

Playing with confidence

Confidence is a wonderful thing when you have it. All coaches want their players to go out on the field with confidence and play to their full potential every game. Of course, it’s not that simple.

Players can have a shaky time and lose belief in their ability or they can get on a roll and think they can do anything once they step on the field. This is very true of Erik Hurtado and Gershon Koffie right now.

Last year, when Hurtado went goalless in 15 MLS appearances, many thought he might not make the grade in MLS. He now has three goals in three straight matches.

When Hurtado drove into the Sounders box just before halftime you could feel something special was going to happen and it did. He turned two Seattle players inside out before planting the ball in the back of the net to tie the game up at 1-1. That’s what I call a player in form. And that’s what I call a player with confidence.

As for Koffie, his performance was magnificent on the night. And how about that goal? Sure, he had an open net to shoot at but he still had a lot to do when he got the ball and there was pressure oncoming. The thing that impressed me the most is that Koffie didn’t hesitate to pull the trigger from 40 yards out – with his left foot, no less.

With a bit of luck, the Ghanaian could have had a hat-trick, as he reminded us once again of the player he can be when the confidence is there.

WATCH: Carl Robinson's post-match press conference

Clinical finishing

The shot total from Saturday’s match, Whitecaps FC 24 to Sounders FC 8, tells you two things. First and foremost, it tells you how dominant the ‘Caps were, but it also tells you where they need to improve.

Of those 24 shots, a number of them were quality chances, especially in the first 30 minutes. It was a similar story in Columbus, where the ‘Caps could have had three or four goals but ended up with a 1-0 win.

Yes, the referee was the talk of the match on Saturday, but the game should have been put away long before that controversial call. You don’t want this to start becoming a trend.

Any coach will tell you that he’d be more concerned if the chances weren’t coming. It’s no doubt a positive if your play from open field is creating good opportunities in front of goal.

Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson seems to have established the passing-based attacking playing style that he's been preaching. The next part of the team's progression is starting to put these chances away so they don’t come back to haunt you.

Highlights: Whitecaps FC 2-2 Sounders FC

Elite teams

Some say you have to beat the elite teams to be mentioned in the same breath as them.

While there’s some truth to that, it’s safe to say that going toe-to-toe with them – and not losing to them – says a lot about the quality of your team.    

Sure, you can get lucky against the top teams, or you can put 10 players behind the ball to scrape out a result. It’s another thing when you’re going out there on the front foot and outplaying the opposition.

We showed glimpses of that against LA Galaxy in back-to-back games and against Real Salt Lake on the road. But you have to say against Seattle, the top team in MLS, we were clearly the better team on the night.

It’s a tough combination to play exciting soccer and get results as well, especially against top teams like Seattle, but this game will give our players and staff even more belief that we're on the right path and that we belong right up there with the best.

It’s not too late to participate in the best sporting experience in Vancouver. Whitecaps FC offer a flexible range of ticket products, including half-season tickets ($244), 5-packs ($149), student season tickets, and a youth soccer half-season ticket. Single-match tickets start at $22, subject to applicable fees. For more information on all Whitecaps FC ticket options, call 604.669.9283 ext. 2 or visit whitecapsfc.com/tickets.