Martin Rennie's announcement after training on Monday that Y. P. Lee would likely not be traveling to Washington or Kansas City with his team-mates throws the spotlight on what has clearly emerged as the "Caps biggest deficiency at the moment: an inability to keep the ball out of their own net. The porous defense has been particularly inept away from BCPlace and with two road matches upcoming it has the potential to throw the brakes on an encouraging spell which has seen the 'Caps elevate themselves into a playoff position near the mid-way point of the season.
Whilst the side's play over the last eight outings has been very good (4W 1L 3D - all competitions) their performance on the road leaves a great deal to be desired as they boast an abysmal minus six goal differential in seven away MLS fixtures. Hopefully, the hot streak spearheaded by the scoring touch of Camilo and Kenny Miller, ably assisted by an emerging Russell Tiebert, will be sufficient to get a positive result out of DC United who themselves boast a woeful minus nine home goal differential but it will be a much more difficult task to come away from Kansas City with any points as KC sport a home goal differential of plus four.
The signing of David Ousted promises to help stiffen the defense over the long haul but, let's be honest, very rarely do goals happen because of the failure of the goalkeeper alone. Individual mistakes do occur but far more often it is a failure of the defense as a group that leads to these miscues. How many times this season has some fleet-footed forward pried open the centre of our defense as we watched in horror knowing all too well the inevitable result?
Rennie's options are a little limited at this point. Jordan Harvey will probably be on the left were his offensive contribution marginally outweighs his defensive liabilities. Johnny Leveron is solid in the centre where, it seems, he will be joined by a recovered Brad Rusin. I am not sure whether Rusin's return inspires confidence or not but, on the surface of it, it appears to be a step in the right direction. Does Rennie look for a miraculous improvement in the play of the unfortunate Greg Klazura on the right or, with the anticipated return of Gershon Koffie, does he move Reo-Coker into the right back slot? I hate to lose the drive and command of Reo-Coker in midfield but what are the options? Does Rennie have another surprise in store for us in looking for a resolution to this glaring deficiency?
These are all short-term issues. The bigger question is what can be done going forward and if Rennie's is good to his word when he told Peter Schaad last week that he anticipated two signings before the July 9 transfer window opens, the second signing had better be a fullback and a stud performer at that. Lee's exclusion from the road trip warns us that this is a hole that will need to be plugged sooner rather than later.
With this evident weakness at the back the challenge facing the squad available for selection at the moment will be to produce a performance against DC that will keep the momentum alive going into Kansas City and, hopefully, into the next week where the spectre of the Seattle Sounders waits in the wings to challenge the Whitecaps as only they can.
Unfortunately, the defense had better not rest.