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Winless in 8, Vancouver Whitecaps focus on the long term

With the playoffs seemingly out of reach, Marc Dos Santos turns his attention to the Canadian Championship and the rebuild.

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — After losing 3-1 to the San Jose Earthquakes at home, the Vancouver Whitecaps have not won in eight Major League Soccer games and have conceded 17 goals in the past five. 

In the end, the Whitecaps were booed off the pitch. Furthermore, fans sang negative chants directed at Whitecap president Bob Lenarduzzi. 

“Our job is to make sure that we watch the game again, see what went wrong and try to react from it,” head coach Marc Dos Santos said when asked about the boos. “But I think that right now we’re in a bad moment. Really bad moment,” he added. 

The end of the playoff race

Saturday’s result puts the Whitecaps 10 points behind Real Salt Lake, who are above the playoff line in the seventh spot and have two games in hand. With just 11 games left this season, Five Thirty Eight has Vancouver’s chances of making the playoffs at less than 1 percent

“It looks like we’re off of the playoff spot,” Dos Santos said after the game. “It’s much more difficult right now, but mathematically everything is still on.”

Dos Santos is right. Mathematically, the Whitecaps are not yet eliminated from the playoff race. But it would take a miracle of epic proportions to get the ‘Caps back into the playoff picture. 

Canadian Championship

With the ‘Caps out of the playoff race, the focus shifts to the Canadian Championship. 

“When it comes to the Canadian Championship, it’s another competition that we’re in,” Dos Santos said. “We want to try and move forward in it.”

The Whitecaps, however, struggled in the first leg against Canadian Premier League side Cavalry FC. The 0-0 draw in Calgary means the ‘Caps have to win the home game to advance to the semifinals.

That will not be an easy task for a team that has struggled to score goals — Vancouver has scored just two goals in the past six games. 

“What I can tell the fans is that our team is on the field every day to do their best to win the game,” Dos Santos said. “Of course, the Canadian Championship now looks like a competition that has huge importance for us.”

Building for the long term

Aside from the Canadian Championship, there is not much left to play for the ‘Caps. Furthermore, this week it emerged that new signings are unlikely this summer. 

“Am I frustrated? Do I feel like throwing a water bottle across the room to that camera? Yeah,” Dos Santos said. “But at the end of the day, I have to keep that on the side and make sure that I stay on course.” 

That course will now include looking at players that can help Dos Santos’ project going into the 2020 season.

“It hurts me not being able to give the fans the product they deserve,” Dos Santos said. “But it is going to make me and the staff and the players involved stronger for sure.”

Meanwhile, the reaction by fans after San Jose’s third goal suggests that patience with Vancouver’s rebuild might run thin. Most of the anger, for now, is directed at the front office, and most fans seem to demand changes at the top of the club’s structure. 

That is good news for Dos Santos and his staff and also the club in the medium term. After firing former head coach Carl Robinson last winter, the ‘Caps need some stability. At the same time, Dos Santos needs help when it comes to creating a squad that can play his style of soccer. 

That help could be on the way with rumors suggesting the club is on the verge of hiring a technical director this summer. 

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