The Vancouver Whitecaps’ Western Conference road swing continues at 7 p.m. PST Saturday when they face rivals Seattle Sounders at CenturyLink Field.
It will be the third game in a week for a Whitecaps side that is still missing five national team players. Doneil Henry, Russell Teibert, Derek Cornelius and Maxim Crépeau are all on duty with Canada at the Gold Cup. Meanwhile, Lass Bangoura is representing Guinea at the Africa Cup.
“[We want to manage this] a little bit like when we went to — what I think was a similar trip not in distance, but the level of opponent — Kansas City and New York,” Whitecaps coach Marc Dos Santos said ahead of the Dallas game. “Now it is Dallas and Seattle, and we have to approach it the very same way but with some pieces missing right now.”
At FC Dallas, the Whitecaps had to overcome a two-goal deficit for the second time in a week. Down by two goals after 59 minutes, Vancouver rallied late and, thanks to goals by Yordy Reyna (81′) and Lucas Venuto (94′), salvaged an essential point in the race for a playoff spot.
“We never give up,” Dos Santos said after the Dallas game. “When we are down we realize the things that need to be better, we push, we keep believing, and that only happens if you have a group that believes in each other.”
With that point, the Whitecaps are in ninth place in the Western Conference, one point behind Minnesota United, which occupies the seventh and final playoff spot but also has two games in hand.
“There is a lot of ties there, but what I tell the guys is that if we can’t win the game, we should try not to lose it and every point — at the end of the day — is going to matter to get into a playoff spot,” Dos Santos added.
At the same time, Dos Santos was a bit tight-lipped about the game against Seattle. Said Dos Santos: “I will think about that game tomorrow.”
Seattle has been off for two weeks, but for for central midfielder turned center back Andy Rose, it is all about learning from the Dallas game first.
“We have to digest [the FC Dallas game] look at the goals they scored and find areas in the game we could have been better,” Rose said on Wednesday. “We go there with a mentality that we want to get points from this road trip, I am looking forward to it.”
For Rose, it will be a special game on Saturday. The 29-year-old played 91 games for the Sounders from 2012 to 2015.
“I have a lot of respect for the organization,” he said of Seattle. “I spend my formative years there, but I am a Vancouver Whitecap now, and I understand what the rivalry means and I was unfortunate to miss the home tie because of my concussion. I can’t wait to get back there and play in front of old friends.”
The game Rose missed ended in a 0-0 draw. Given the circumstances with Vancouver’s depleted roster and the fact that the Sounders are relatively rested, a point would be considered a success on the road for the Caps. At the same time, the Whitecaps need every point to keep the playoff push alive and with many fans traveling south to support Vancouver, a win over its rival would be a welcome sight.