VANCOUVER – With his tongue firmly planted in his cheek, Vancouver Whitecaps coach Carl Robinson offered up this quick response when asked about Wednesday night’s road game against the Chicago Fire.
“Probably a 1-1 draw” Robinson said with a wry smile on his face.
The self deprecating manner in which the ‘Caps skipper answered the question was telling. It shows just how comfortable Robinson feels, despite the fact his team has played to a Western Conference-leading ten draws this season—three of which came in their last three games after opening the scoring against Toronto FC, Real Salt Lake and FC Dallas.
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“It’s difficult to say if it’s a young team finding its way. But the most important thing is that we are in every single game we have played this year,” veteran fullback Jordan Harvey stated. “So we just need to find a way to get those chances in the goal and get those three points.”
Now, to be fair to Vancouver, they aren’t the only MLS team struggling to get victories. Believe it or not, there’s another club with even more draws this year. Yes, you guessed it—Frank Yallop’s Chicago Fire, who have “kissed their sister” a whopping 11 times this season.
“Chicago has been unfortunate as well,” Robinson pointed out. “I know Frank very well. Super coach and his team has missed a couple of last minute penalties early on this season and they haven’t managed to get over that little hurdle to pick up a few results. So it will be a difficult game for us.”
Wednesday’s match in Illinois is intriguing on another level, as there were many who thought that Yallop would be the Whitecaps coach this season, his hiring appearing to be a “fait accompli” after the club parted ways with Martin Rennie.
But in the process of waiting for an offer to return to his hometown and guide the ‘Caps, Yallop was scooped up by the Fire, a decision that helped Robinson get his first MLS manager’s gig. And while the “six degrees of separation’ is a nice sidebar, Vancouver is more concerned right now with what happens on the field then what happened off the field.
“I’m sick of them (draws) because we are so close to winning games,” an exasperated Robinson confessed. “I think we should have won more games then we have drawn. So everyone will say it’s positive that we pick up results, but I’m not really.
“I’m happy for the boys because if we keep on losing games then the confidence goes and I want the confidence to remain. But they are disappointed when they draw which shows a sign of how far we’ve come in a short period of time.”
When quizzed even more about the match against the Fire, Robinson suggested there could be two “fresh faces” in the starting line-up at Toyota Park, although with a 10-day break coming after Wednesday’s game you can expect it to be all hands on deck for the visitors.
That said, injuries or up and down play from some of his starters my force a move or two on the backline. Steven Beitashour left Sunday’s game against Dallas a little dinged up and Carlyle Mitchell’s play of late has been like a roller coaster, with huge ups and downs.
So don’t be shocked if veteran centre-half Andy O’Brien returns to the fold for his first action since starting against Montreal a little over a month ago—a game, that oddly enough, ended in a nil-nil draw.
‘CAPS DOMINATE EAST
Record this year vs. East : 3-wins, 0-losses, 4-ties
2013 vs. East: 7-wins, 2-losses, 1-ties
All time vs. Chicago: 2-wins, 1-loss, 1 tie