VANCOUVER, BC – What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
But it’s a cliché that Erik Hurtado is trying to live by after Vancouver Whitecaps FC’s 1-0 loss to New York Red Bulls this past weekend. The 25-year-old striker was one of Vancouver’s most dangerous players against New York. He put himself in some great positions, wreaked havoc on the Red Bulls back line, and had a game-high seven shots.
The only problem? None of them found the back of the net.
Following the match, Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson said Hurtado was “distraught” and “in tears.” It hit him hard, but it’s in the past now.
“I thought about it a bunch the first 24 hours and then I started realizing that sulking isn’t going to change it,” Hurtado told reporters of his last few days. “All I can do from now on is work my hardest like I always do and come out here and train hard this week and get ready for Columbus.”
Speaking of Columbus, who Whitecaps FC visit on Saturday (3 p.m. PT on TSN2), Hurtado has proven in the past that he’s capable of producing in this league. Back in 2014, he scored five goals in five games, including a left-footed stunner at Columbus.
He’s done a lot of good things the last few games as well, which is why he was voted by fans as a co-winner of last month’s Whitecaps FC Player of the Month award.
As a striker, though, he knows he’ll be judged primarily on goals.
“I’m putting myself in the position to score. That’s the starting point,” Hurtado said when asked about the positives he can take from Saturday’s performance. “The second point is to put the ball in the back of the net and obviously that’s what I’m trying to do. I’m not trying to miss. I’m just trying to move forward and stay positive and see the ball going in. And hopefully it will go in.”
Asked what he can do differently moving forward, Hurtado said:
“Put the ball in the back of the net. Honestly, that’s the truth.”
The key, according to both Hurtado and Robinson, is to keep his focus. On Saturday, Robinson felt that once Hurtado missed a few chances – it affected his focus for the rest of the game.
“The top strikers are able to shut it off when they miss one chance and take the next one,” Robinson said. “That’s what we’ve got to work with Erik on. And we will. He’s a great kid and he works his socks off for the team. He had a very, very good game but he didn’t score a goal. He’s disappointed, we’re disappointed for him, but we’ll continue to work with him.”
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
“It’s a learning point,” Hurtado said. “Hopefully it will help me for the better.”
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