Much of the talk surrounding the 2012 incarnation of the Vancouver Whitecaps has centered on the spectacular goalkeeping of Joe "Save of the Week" Cannon and the kevlar quartet playing in front of him. Yes, four matches are in the books, and the once-porous Whitecaps defense has yet to concede -- the only MLS squad that can boast such success.
The combination of superior coaching, astute player moves, and a generous hand dealt by the MLS scheduler have eased the Caps' start to the current season. However, not all's well at the end of the pitch where just about everyone thought WCFC would be a force to be reckoned with.
Martin Rennie may have an embarrassment of riches at his disposal in the forward positions, but anemic doesn't even begin to characterize the efficacy or efficiency of the Whitecaps in putting the ball into the net -- or anywhere on goal for that matter.
A look at the numbers so far is uglier than I'd anticipated. To offer some degree of perspective, 10 MLS players have notched at least as many shots on target as the entire Whitecaps roster has. Three of them, LA's Robbie Keane, Seattle's David Estrada, and Chicago's Dominic Oduro have played only three matches.
The Whitecaps have managed a paltry seven shots on goal in 34 attempts through four matches. Five of those seven SOG came in the season opener vs Montreal. With a 21% on-target ratio, the Whitecaps find themselves second last, trailed only by Toronto at 18%. The overall league average of 37% would already appear to be almost unattainable unless the likes of Hassli, Le Toux, Chiumiento, Camilo and supporting cast can heed the call of duty and fix red-dot laser sights to their cleats.
To make matters worse, the trend has taken a sharp downward course of late: The Caps went 0 for 8 and 0 for 9 respectively in their last two matches -- a pair of 0-0 draws against DC United and the Philadelphia Union.
There's the old saying that a draw is like kissing your sister. In the last two weeks the Whitecaps have puckered up big time. Unless Martin Rennie can get things sorted up front real fast, the Caps will be looking at yet another oh-for in San Jose -- who have averaged only three SOG against per match. Great defense or not, the list of teams that can win without putting the ball on net is a short one indeed.