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'Caps show plenty of attacking promise in month of May, aim to shore up defensive end

VANCOUVER, BC – It was a wild month of May for Vancouver Whitecaps FC.

The ‘Caps played five matches over the course of the month, facing Minnesota United FC, Houston Dynamo, San Jose Earthquakes, FC Dallas, and New England Revolution. A run of four consecutive draws has drawn frustration, but the attacking form of the side has been quite promising. This, from Carl Robinson, is probably an apt description of the month that was:

“Lots of fun, lots of grey hairs, enjoyment, smiles, disappointment, frustration, a bit of everything really,” Robinson said this week. “I don’t think you could have packed too much more into a month. Some really, really good performances, some individual errors you’re probably not likely to see over the course of a season never mind in one month, but lots of goals.”

After opening the month with a 1-0 defeat at Minnesota, the ‘Caps scored nine goals in their last four matches while playing in a new-look, 4-4-2 formation.

And the underlying numbers are even more telling.

In the month of May, Robinson’s men are averaging more big chances created per match (3.2) than any other team in MLS, according to Opta. Opta defines a big chance as “a situation where a player should reasonably be expected to score, usually in a one-on-one scenario or from very close range.”

The ‘Caps are also second to only Sporting Kansas City with an average of 15 total chances created per match in the month of May, and fourth in total shots per game. Moral of the story: the chances – and goals – are there. And there are no signs of them drying up.

“I believe if we continue to go the way we’re going, and keep working, we will score four, five, or six goals against someone,” Robinson said.

In each of the last four matches, Whitecaps FC came from behind to earn a draw – most recently, a 3-3 thriller with New England. As Russell Teibert said this week, you can look at that in one of two ways.

“It just seems like a common theme right now that we need to go a couple goals down or a goal down to wake up,” the ‘Caps midfielder told reporters. “And that’s not a good thing, but the only positive out of that is we’re able to bounce back. It shows a lot of character and it shows our quality that we can come back and score goals, but why go down?”

That’s something Whitecaps FC will be looking to rectify when they pay visit to Colorado Rapids on Friday (6 p.m. PT on TSN and 1410 AM radio) at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.

“What we need to do is cut out the nonsense of the individual mistakes and the silly goals and then try and take our chances because we have been creating a bucket load,” Robinson said. “We’re sitting probably where we deserve to be based on the chances we’ve missed and the bad goals we’ve given up, but we know that can change at any time and hopefully it will change on Friday.”

On Friday, the ‘Caps will be without captain Kendall Waston, who has joined the Costa Rican national team ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup. But they do have Doneil Henry back in the fold after the Canadian centre back helped Ottawa Fury FC keep three clean sheets in his brief loan spell. Either way, Robinson said Waston’s absence won’t be used as an excuse.

“It’s the next person to step up,” Robinson said. “You’ve got a squad for certain reasons. When you have a chance, you have to take your chance. People will probably not expect anything better because Kendall is a starting player and a key player for us. What I say is, I’ll agree to disagree on that, because sometimes people surprise you. So the player who gets the opportunity to step in might just surprise a few people.”