When the season started, we all expected that speed would benefit the Whitecaps this season. Four games in and it has hindered them and also costed them at least 3 or 4 goals. Mattocks predicted that he would get 20 goals this season, 4 games in and he has mustered only one.
Manneh has had horrible ball control thus far. His touch against Chivas was so bad, it costed him a goal that could have got the Caps a 2-2 draw. Hurtado on the other hand has been better lately. His touch and pace against Chivas lead to Miller’s goal.
We do indeed have to remember these players are still really young; Mattocks and Hurtado are 22 and Manneh is only 18. They will grow and I expect them to become quality MLS strikers in the future.
His MLS rookie season was as good as we could ever have asked for. He was too fast for defenders and if they could keep pace with him he would jump over them and score goals (see Mattocks’ goal vs TFC). People forget that he didn’t score his 1st goal of the season until the 12th game last year against the Portland Timbers. He only had 2 goals in the first half of last season, he is just a slow starter.
The biggest difference this year is he has upgraded in the discipline department. Gone are the senseless yellow cards and gone are the suspensions due to yellow card accumulation. He has the ability to score in bunches and before we know it, he can easily have 4 to 5 goals in only 3 games.
He needs to slow down, play smart and make the game slow down for him. He needs to use his soccer smarts and use his speed to dominate his opponents. The 4-2-3-1 formation, I believe, is putting too much pressure on him. On occasion, we have seen when he didn’t get the pass where we wanted it, he stops and puts his hands on his head and gives up on the play. I think a 4-3-3 (with Kobayashi, Miller and Mattocks up front) would take some pressure off him and give him the playmaking ability of Kobayashi and Miller and the chance to finish without trying to over do it.
MLS Season: 8 goals
Total Including Canadian Championship: 12 goals
Lets start with the fact he is only 18 years old, most players at that age are playing with the reserves or getting loaned away to clubs for quality minutes. He has let his speed slow him down so far this year but he showed flashes of brilliance in the pre-season. He showed us he can finish on the field.
His first touch against Chivas USA costed him a gift wrapped goal topped with a bow and lead us to miss out on a draw. People say “yeah, its only 1 point”, but remember that at the end of the season when that 1 extra point can mean the difference between a home playoff date or even making the playoffs period.
He will eventually get his goals this season, he has too much speed and finish not to score goals in the MLS. The way the Whitecaps can get the best use out of him is off the bench, putting him in between the 60th and 75th minute. The opposing team’s defenders will be winded and Manneh can use his speed to attack and create chance.
MLS Season: 4 goals
Total Including Canadian Championship: 5 goals
I have talked with Omar Salgado and he has mentioned that Hurtado is by far the fastest player on the team and faster than any player he has ever played against. At Santa Clara he was so fast that he didn’t have to use skill to score goals, he could just run around midfielders and defenders and score. That wont work in the MLS unfortunately as defenders are much too big and fast.
Out of these three players, I think Hurtado will have the better MLS career and be the more prolific scorer. He has the speed, size and finish to be a true future all-star. His speed and shot lead to Kenny Miller’s goal against Chivas, after struggling with his touch in the first game against Toronto FC, he has been better on the ball ever since. He knows how to attack and create shots and chances.
The way the Caps can take advantage of his skill is as a first sub and let his leash go and let him run at defenders from 30 yards in. We don’t need to pass it over top and let him run to the ball, give him the ball on the wing and let him attack at the defenders.
MLS Season: 8 goals
Total Including Canadian Championship: 10 goals
In The End
I know we are only four games into the season and we have a lot still to go, it’s not time to hit the panic button yet. We need these players to be put into the right situation to utilize their abilities in order to succeed this season. Rennie is an intelligent coach and knows more about managing than me, but these players are struggling as of right now.