The Vancouver Whitecaps are back on the road and will face the San Jose Earthquakes Saturday at 10 p.m. ET from Avaya Stadium. The ‘Caps disappointed in their 3-1 home defeat to San Jose in July, during a period that was perhaps the lowest point of the season for the club.
“We have a good idea of what we are going to face,” head coach Marc Dos Santos said. “The man-marking situation they have and the commitment in that system that is different is very demanding, also, at the same time, they stick to it. Credit to [Matías] Almeyda and the staff to have put that identity there. As I said, it is different, and we have to deal with it.”
Although the Whitecaps have been eliminated from the Canadian Championship and are unlikely to make the MLS Cup playoffs, the club has somewhat recovered from a difficult summer. The Whitecaps last Friday announced their parting of ways with president Bob Lenarduzzi and a reshuffling of the front office.
That announcement was followed by a convincing 1-0 victory over Wayne Rooney’s D.C. United. In fact, the game against D.C. might have been the best performance all season, and it highlighted the direction that Dos Santos wants to take this team tactically.
“We have found again an identity and what we want to be about,” Dos Santos said. That identity was on display against United. In that game, the ‘Caps managed to box out D.C. from areas where there were high expected goals (xG) probabilities.
“Everyone was committed to the extra work,” goalkeeper Maxime Crépeau said about the win.
At the same time, Dos Santos admitted his players have to be more aggressive going forward. With the Whitecaps out of playoff contention, the goal for the rest of the season is to find the right players who can fit Dos Santos’ system.
“It is to be better every game, at this moment we want to be as high as possible in the ranking,” Crépeau said. “To get points is the most important thing.”
Dos Santos said he will “continuously evaluate the potential of our roster and what we need going forward.” The Whitecaps added Tosaint Ricketts, Michaell Chirinos and Georges Mukumbilwa before the roster freeze on Aug. 30. While Ricketts made his debut against D.C., Whitecaps fans still eagerly await Chirinos’ first game for the club.
“We want him to travel to San Jose and Montreal,” Dos Santos said. “It will take a couple of weeks until he is settled in.”
Evaluating the roster and keeping the positive momentum going is the ambition against the Earthquakes and Impact. Both teams have struggled in recent weeks. San Jose has lost its past three games, and Montreal fired head coach Rémi Garde this week.
“For sure, we also understand what the games mean for them. Both San Jose and Montreal are fighting to make the playoffs,” Dos Santos said. “It means a lot to them, and in MLS you can go through a spell and suddenly it changes. I hope it doesn’t change against us but we understand what those two games mean [for them].”