After a quiet start to the Vancouver Whitecaps’ season, “The Bug” is proving to be a pest to opponents.
Uruguayan-born midfielder/forward Cristian Techera has scored five goals in his past four games, including his first professional hat trick. The Whitecaps are hoping Techera, who eared his nickname because of his diminutive size, continues to buzz around when Vancouver plays Orlando City SC on Saturday in a Major League Soccer game at BC Place.
Techera, who stands five-foot-two and weighs 150 pounds, was easily overlooked at the start of the year. He had just one goal – off a penalty kick – a single assist in his first 11 games.
Techera found his touch again with a goal against San Jose on May 16, then two weeks later he dazzled a hometown crowd by scoring three times as Vancouver battled from behind to tie New England. He opened the scoring last week as the Whitecaps defeated the Colorado Rapids 2-1 to snap a five-game winless streak (0-1-4).
Midfielder Felipe said Techera has found his grove.
“He’s been showing all year long what he’s capable of,” the Brazilian-born Felipe said. “It was very important for him to get the goal [against San Jose] and get going.
“For confidence, it’s key when you score a goal. We are very happy for him, but we hope he continues to do that for us.”
Whitecaps head coach Carl Robinson likes the chemistry that is developing between his young group of attacking players – Techera is the oldest at 26. Both midfielder/forward Yordy Reyna and Whitecaps rookie forward Anthony Blondell are 24, while midfielder Alphonso Davies is just 17, but playing in his third MLS season.
“There is great potential for those four to develop,” Robinson said.
“Players are understanding the tendency of other players. The chemistry of the front-four players in the last three games have created a bucket load of chances. The consistency has been very good. That will continue.”
Orlando City has ridden a roller coaster so far this year with injuries shredding their lineup.
The Lions followed up an impressive six-game winning streak with four consecutive MLS losses. They head into the weekend hanging onto sixth place in the Eastern Conference with 19 points.
Midfielder Will Johnson said mistakes and mental errors are costing the team.
“Games are won and lost in the box,” the Toronto native told the Orlando City website. “When you get in the box you’ve got to make plays.
“We’re frustrated. We’re disappointed in ourselves. The coaches are giving us game plans that are working. As players we are not executing. That’s the biggest frustration for us. We have to continue to work.”
One concern for Robinson is Vancouver has five draws this season, four of them coming at home.
The Whitecaps’ 20 points leaves them in the sixth and final playoff spot in the West, but there is little room for error. Heading into the weekend only six points separates third-place Real Salt Lake from ninth-place Minnesota.
“We need to win at home if we are going to be in the playoffs, we know that,” Robinson said. “We’ve drawn too many games at home, which is a mini-positive because we are not losing at home but it’s not a positive because we need to win at home.”