It's official. Octavio Rivero has been transferred to Club Social y Deportivo Colo-Colo in Chile for an undisclosed transfer fee and a percentage of any future transfer fees. On the radio today Coach Robinson said he felt Rivero's mind was somewhere else this season and moving him was good for both parties. Good for the Whitecaps because they need a more consistent scorer as a DP striker. We'll never know what was going on in Rivero's mind, although I had read he mentioned in a Spanish article that he missed the fervor of the South American fans. Who knows really? It is just as likely he became frustrated at not being able to score in MLS, or get a call from MLS referees when he was being hacked in the box, or adjust to life in Canada, or..., or...., or... .
With him goes his underwhelming two goals on twenty-three shots this season and his DP salary of just under one million dollars. For many regular readers, "Good Riddance" is a popular sentiment, and I agree it is time for him to move on. But what are we left with in the striker position? Blas Perez, who can still pot goals but rarely starts and comes on far too late in games, in my opinion. Erik Hurtado, who has improved so much of his game but may never score another goal in his life. And, Masato Kudo who we are all hoping could be the real deal scorer but has had his MLS acclimatization project delayed with a long recovery from a broken jaw. So really it's Perez and Hurtado. There is no doubt a striker must come our way during this summer transfer window. I have to admit, I did not see this coming in the offseason when the signings of Perez and Kudo looked like the final pieces to solidify team scoring and vault the team up the standings.
After the Canadian Championship first leg in Toronto, Robbo impressed upon us the importance of team scoring. Sure, I will buy that, but team scoring has absolutely got to include goals scored by the strikers. I expect goals to come from Bolaños, Morales, Mezquida and Manneh, and credit to them they have scored seventeen MLS goals between them. The strikers on the team have scored only five MLS goals between them this season. If the game plan is to work the ball out of the back and up the field to feed the strikers so they score, then the game plan isn't working. Rivero and Hurtado have been praised for their hard work and ability to hold up the ball, but their hard work has only resulted in one MLS assist (Hurtado's), and three assists by the entire strike force this season. If the team is going to be successful this year, and we all expected big things for the team during the preseason, then the strikers are going to need to put up some numbers. Good hustle up top and goals from the midfield won't cut it.
Robinson's favoured single striker formation tactics have often been criticized here as unfriendly for strikers, or at least the strikers on hand, to succeed in. The times we saw two strikers up top excited us with some goals just as much as it left us wanting for goals. Even with Manneh moved up top, which I would love to see more of, we don't have enough strikers in form at the moment (Manneh would make three) to fill those positions and have subs. A new striker must come. We have heard Robinson say that at times Mezquida has been the second striker in the way the team deployed their tactics, but has this produced goals?
My final grievance to air is: why is Perez not getting more minutes? He has proven he can still score goals if he is on the pitch long enough. But, I do understand his value as a sub. He can close out games and if we need someone to come off the bench to score a goal he can. After him, who else can we rely on?
Robbo needs to bring in a striker during this month's transfer window. Let's hope it is a good one. Kudo needs to get healthy and back in form. And, in the meantime the ‘Caps will need to score by committee. Please, let that be a short-term game plan born of necessity and not the modus operandi of the team going forward.