Hurtado looks to redeem himself for missing net as Whitecaps visit Crew

By The Canadian Press
September 9, 2016 - 11:00am

VANCOUVER — Erik Hurtado is done thinking about his missed opportunities.

The Vancouver striker is ready to redeem himself for missing the net on seven shots in the last game as the Whitecaps (8-13-7) visit the Columbus Crew (5-10-10) on Saturday. The Caps need a win to keep their fading Major League Soccer playoff hopes alive.

"I thought about it a bunch the first 24 hours, and then I started to realize that sulking on it isn't going to change it," said Hurtado.

Whitecaps coach Carl Robinson described Hurtado as "distraught" and "in tears" after the home loss to the Red Bulls. Now, Hurtado hopes to build on the chances he had.

"I'm putting myself in a position to score — that's the starting point," he said. "The second part is to put the ball in the back of the net. Obviously, that's what I'm trying to do. I'm not trying to miss. So I've just got to move forward, stay positive and see the ball going in, and hopefully it'll go in."

Hurtado returned to the Whitecaps this year after being loaned to a Norwegian club in 2015. But the 25-year-old is not the only Whitecaps player struggling to score.

Vancouver has produced only one goal in its last seven MLS games and is winless in its past eight league outings.

Robinson said he will continue to support Hurtado, but his starter spot is not guaranteed as the Whitecaps try to rise from ninth place in the Western Conference. The Whitecaps will get six players back from international duty, including strikers Giles Barnes and Blas Perez.

Robinson plans to deploy Hurtado in one or two upcoming games. Saturday's contest will be Vancouver's second of four in a 10-day stretch that includes Tuesday's CONCACAF Champions League road game against Sporting Kansas City.

"We'll put (out) the freshest team we can (Saturday)," said Robinson. "Obviously, we've got Tuesday's game in mind as well."

While Hurtado strives to keep his spirits up, the team as a whole is also trying to maintain a positive attitude.

"It's as good as it can be," said midfielder Russell Teibert. "I say that because we're going through a little bit of a tough time."

The anguish was evident during a mini-game in practice at UBC this week as some players loudly criticized others. Robinson said he liked the emotional display.

"Unfortunately, professional (soccer) isn't a tap. You can't turn it on and off when you want," he said. "And when you go through difficult runs, it's important you get back to basics. So when they're on each other and shouting at each other, it's a good thing."

Robinson will be absent from the sideline in Columbus as he serves a one-game suspension for shouting at the referee last weekend.

Teibert said "it'll be a little bit different" without Robinson guiding the team against the Crew, but players know what they have to do.

"(Coaches) can't really do anything once the whistle blows," said Teibert. "Once we're on the field, it's down to us."

Note: Columbus sits last in the Eastern Conference but is still within reach of the playoffs after playing in the MLS Cup final last year. … Despite struggling in MLS play, the Whitecaps lead their CONCACAF Champions League pool and have a strong chance to advance beyond group play for the first time. … The Caps close out their road trip with another important MLS game in Seattle next weekend.

Monte Stewart, The Canadian Press

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