VANCOUVER, BC – For good or ill, Erik Hurtado was involved on his full Vancouver Whitecaps FC debut this past weekend, as his side were on the wrong of a 2-1 defeat to the Houston Dynamo.
The 22-year-old surged forward several times and looked dangerous in the final third, notably playing a part in Darren Mattocks’ cracking opener. On that play he took a pass from Gershon Koffie before taking a touch inside and finding Mattocks, who beat his man before finding the top right corner of Tally Hall’s goal.
WATCH: 2013 - Whitecaps FC vs. Houston
“I felt good,” Hurtado said after a training session at the University of British Columbia on Tuesday when asked about his first MLS start. “I got some chances, I helped create some chances. We should have had that game. It was unlucky that we didn’t have that game, but that’s soccer, and you learn from it.”
Much of the talk going into preseason centred around how the speedy triumvirate of Mattocks, Hurtado and Kekuta Manneh would trouble opposing defense if they ever got a chance to play together. While it was just Hurtado and Mattocks on at the same time this weekend, the rookie feels that given time he’ll be able to create even more magic with Vancouver’s Jamaican star.
“I don’t think it’s going to take too long before we start racking up goals together,” Hurtado said. “He’s a fast player, I’m a fast player. As soon as we figure out how to time our runs, we’re going to be slipping each other in. Defenses aren’t going to be able to keep up with us and it’s going to be goals left and right.”
At the other end of the field, however, some pundits wondered whether Hurtado could have done more on one or both of Houston’s goals.
For the opening goal, the Virginia native spotted Giles Barnes free in the area and sprinted back to attempt to mark him to no avail – but given there was at least a four-inch height difference and it wasn’t his marker anyway, head coach Martin Rennie feels his rookie wasn’t to blame.
Equally, the Scottish tactician stated there was likely nothing Hurtado could do on Houston’s second goal, despite being inches away from the ball before it was bundled home by Warren Creavalle.
“He was very close on every goal,” Rennie said of Hurtado’s involvement. “Initially when you look at it, because he’s close to the ball, you think that. But for the first one, it’s not his man. He ends up filling in and I wouldn’t blame him for that.
“For the second one, he’s close to the ball. Maybe could have gone and attacked it with his head, but it would be nitpicking on those. For those goals, both of them, there were multiple areas we could have done better, especially the first one. So I wouldn’t point the finger at him.”
Whether or not Hurtado retains his place for this weekend’s game against Chivas USA is uncertain, but Rennie hinted Kenny Miller won’t get the start after struggling to play 90 minutes immediately after international weeks last season.
That could open the door for a second consecutive start for the speedster.
“I know they’re going to be cheeky – the Mexican style of play,” Hurtado said of Chivas. “But if they’re going to dance on the ball, we’re going to crack them.”