Newspaper article The Canadian Press

After Rough Start, Vancouver Whitecaps' Defence Got 'Back to Basics'

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

After Rough Start, Vancouver Whitecaps' Defence Got 'Back to Basics'

Article excerpt

'Back to basics' working for Whitecaps


VANCOUVER - Keeping things simple helped get the Vancouver Whitecaps back on track.

Following disastrous defensive outings in consecutive losses to start the season, the Whitecaps defeated the Seattle Sounders 2-1 on the road for their first victory before last weekend's 1-0 home triumph over the Houston Dynamo.

Both wins came thanks in large part to a renewed focus when opponents have the ball.

"We just got back to basics," said Vancouver head coach Carl Robinson. "Defending is about doing the basics very well. If you do your individual jobs and concentrate, it gives you a chance in every game."

Defenders were uncharacteristically exposed in the club's home opener, a 3-2 loss to the Montreal Impact, and then again six days later in a 2-1 defeat at Sporting Kansas City.

That caused the Whitecaps, who tied for the fewest goals allowed (36) and most shutouts (13) last season, to do some soul searching.

"It's been about eliminating those big mistakes," said Vancouver defender Jordan Harvey. "The last two games, back to our ways."

Right back was a concern coming into the season on the heels of Steven Beitashour's trade to Toronto FC, and Fraser Aird and Jordan Smith did little to allay those fears when both struggled out of the gate.

But Aird, a Canadian international on loan from Scottish champions Rangers, has steadily improved while learning a new position.

"You're going to have ups and downs throughout the season," said Aird, a converted midfielder. "The last two games when we played well as a team, I thought I've done a lot better."

After allowing a goal on a free kick in Seattle, Vancouver registered its first clean sheet of 2016 against a Houston team that came in as the top-scoring side in Major League Soccer. The performance was especially impressive considering Robinson had to use midfielder Andrew Jacobson in the heart of defence with both Kendall Waston and Tim Parker away on international duty. …

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