Tale of two halves

VANCOUVER, BC – Vancouver Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson was left with a few things to mull over after his side suffered a 3-1 opening-day loss to Canadian rivals Toronto FC at BC Place on Saturday afternoon.

Vancouver started the game in an entertaining and explosive manner, causing Toronto no end of problems with their pace and movement. But despite creating numerous chances, they went in at the break only tied at one apiece.

"I want my team to play like they did in the first 45 minutes for 90 minutes, but it's probably not possible," Robinson told reporters after the game. "They took their chances, we didn't take our chances and that's what the game is about. The game is not about what you do in the middle third, it's about what you do in the box."

Whitecaps FC's inability to turn their offensive dominance into more goals allowed Toronto to regroup at the half, which ultimately cost them the game. 

"You look at games all over the world and they go through phases," Robinson continued. "Each team has their possession phase and each team has their on-top stage."

"We had our on-top stage for 45 minutes and went in at 1-1. Toronto, with their experienced players, managed the game and when they went 2-1 up, we were chasing a little bit."

Toronto certainly looked more organized after the break and controlled the game perfectly once they had taken a lead in the 59th minute. Vancouver, though, looked like a different side in the second half. 

"I actually enjoyed watching it after 45 minutes, but in the second 45 minutes I was pulling the little bit of hair that I've got out," Robinson admitted. "The second half, we came out with no spring in our step."

"I didn't think that we passed the ball well enough, not like we're used to passing the ball. Players were trying things too hard, maybe. We were trying to hit that killer ball and we didn't need to do that."

Vancouver had Toronto rattled for much of the first half and they can take some solace from the way and the speed that the 'Caps moved the ball around in the first 45 minutes.

Robinson feels that was a clear sign of what his team are capable of producing this season. But he'll use the defeat, and in particular the way that Toronto managed the game once they had their lead, as a development tool for his young group.

"You've always got to learn in every game, not just when you win but when you lose," Robinson said. "I learn more from when we lose than when we win because sometimes you get caught up in the emotions and you get caught up in how well you did when you win a game of football. When you lose, you analyze a bit more and you should always analyze whether you win or lose." 

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