Home MLS Vancouver Whitecaps Rennie “encouraged” by Whitecaps despite loss to Dynamo

Rennie “encouraged” by Whitecaps despite loss to Dynamo

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The Vancouver Whitecaps had their five-game preseason winning streak snapped as a pair of second-half goals within a three-minute span led the Houston Dynamo to a 2-1 win Wednesday evening at Blackbaud Stadium in Charleston, S.C.

The short lapse spoiled an otherwise-competent performance for a young Vancouver squad on the second match day of the Carolina Challenge Cup.

All three MLS teams remain in contention for the tournament title heading into Saturday’s third and final match day. Chicago used a stoppage-time goal to defeat USL Pro side Charleston Battery, 2-1, in Wednesday’s nightcap, placing it in the driver’s seat with six points. The Whitecaps and Dynamo have three each, and the host Battery have zero.

“Overall, I was actually very encouraged about the game,” said Vancouver head coach Martin Rennie. “It was a very young team from us – lots of inexperienced players. For most of the game, we were doing well. We were on top for quite a long time. Obviously, (we’re) disappointed that we lost the goals that we did. I thought we could have defended those a little bit better given that we hardly gave up any chances throughout the game.”

In the 27th minute, Corey Hertzog intercepted Jermaine Taylor’s back-pass, rounded Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall and finished from a tight angle for a 1-0 lead that the Whitecaps would take into the locker room at halftime. The goal was reminiscent of Hertzog’s strike in the teams’ first meeting of the preseason — a 2-1 win for the Blue and White on Feb. 2 in Tucson, Ariz.

“I think Corey is a good finisher,” Rennie said. “I think that he’s got all the attributes to be a very good striker in Major League Soccer. I think that he needs to believe that just a little bit more, which we’ll help him do. I’m excited about how he’ll help us.”

Vancouver threatened a few minutes before Hertzog’s goal when Russell Teibert sent a low drive off the right post, and the squad created a few other half-chances in the game. Beyond that, the Whitecaps did not generate an abundance of scoring opportunities and were outshot by a 13-5 margin.

Less than 24 hours after a 2-0 win over Charleston, Vancouver used a pair of goals from Paulo Jr. to defeat the College of Charleston, 2-0, Sunday at Patriots Point Athletics Complex in nearby Mount Pleasant – albeit with different personnel.

Rennie used a veteran lineup against the Battery but summoned mainly reserves and trialists for the Whitecaps’ collegiate opponent. The team which took the field Wednesday largely resembled the latter, likely necessitated by the looming roster decisions that must be made.

Similarly, Houston coach Dominic Kinnear left stalwarts Will Bruin, Brad Davis and Adam Moffat out of the starting lineup. But the trio entered in the 74th minute, and it didn’t take long for their impact to be felt.

Within two minutes of entering the game, Davis sent a long ball to Bruin, who beat Vancouver defender Carlyle Mitchell and goalkeeper Brad Knighton to knot the game at 1-1 in the 76th minute.

Less than two minutes later, Moffat unleashed a powerful 35-yard rocket that dipped over Knighton’s head and into the right corner, providing the 2012 MLS Cup finalists a 2-1 lead that would not be relinquished.

Trialists Ethan Sampson and Adam Clement joined Mitchell and Greg Klazura on the Whitecaps’ backline Wednesday evening. Additionally, Whitecaps rookie Erik Hurtado, the fifth overall pick in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft, received the starting nod. He lasted 45 minutes in what was his first game action since Feb. 2 as he recovers from a hamstring injury.

“I thought it was strong,” Rennie said of Hurtado’s performance. “I thought he looked very dangerous. (Houston’s) Corey Ashe is one of the fastest fullbacks in MLS and Erik looked very fast against him. (He was) a little bit rusty in his position and his final pass, maybe, but I thought he looked dangerous and obviously we know he’s a big weapon for us.”

Vancouver will close its trip to the Lowcountry on Saturday against the Chicago Fire. Kickoff is set for 5 p.m. ET/2 p.m. PT.

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