Vancouver Whitecaps get set for first road test at Real Salt Lake

Vancouver Whitecaps' Anthony Blondell, left, gets his head on the ball as Real Salt Lake's Brooks Lennon defends during second half MLS soccer action in Vancouver, B.C., on Friday April 27, 2018. (Darryl Dyck/CP)

Since the Vancouver Whitecaps entered Major League Soccer in 2011, they have never managed to post a winning record on the road.

If they want to be a playoff team this year, the Whitecaps will need to collect as many points as possible away from BC Place. Their first chance comes Saturday when they travel to Sandy, Utah to take on Real Salt Lake.

Last week, Vancouver began their regular season campaign with a disappointing 3-2 loss at home against Minnesota United. While some say the negatives far out-weighed the positives for the new-look Whitecaps, coach Marc Dos Santos feels just the opposite.  
 
“When I reviewed the game and put everything in perspective, I said to myself ‘Okay, this is the first time these guys have played together in an official game,’” Dos Santos said this week. “There were pockets in the game that didn’t look like it was the first time we were together. We’ll take the positives from the game and reinforce them.”
 
Things could not have started any better last weekend when Argentine-born defender Erik Godoy opened the scoring just six minutes into the match. However, the ‘Caps were unable to build off that momentum as a few mental lapses defensively allowed Minnesota back into the match to steal three points.
 
“It was disappointing as we obviously wanted to start off on a better note,” explained Canadian defender Derek Cornelius, one of seven players to make their MLS debut last weekend. “We’re not going to sit and think about it too much. We’re going to move forward and get on to the next game.”
   
One of the biggest talking points Dos Santos has stressed to his squad this week is being more proactive when in possession. Two of the three goals Vancouver conceded to Minnesota came after careless passes or turnovers in the midfield.
 
“When we have the ball, we need to have it with a purpose,” explained Dos Santos. “It’s going to be constant throughout the year to improve our way of playing.”

Cornelius agreed: “We need to be cleaner in our possession. We don’t need to change anything about our style of play. We just need to fix a few of the small details.”
 
Last season, the Whitecaps went 6-8-3 away from BC Place. Just three of those victories came against Western Conference rivals. One more away result could have put Vancouver in the playoffs.
Even though the majority of faces inside the Vancouver locker room have only been together for a little over a month, they all know getting road wins is crucial this season.
 
“Teams that are successful in this league are good away,” veteran Vancouver midfielder Russell Teibert offered. “The approach we have this year that stands out [from last year] is that we’re not going to be a team that completely changes our style of play on the road. We’re not going to change for anybody.”
  
“You need a mentality that if you don’t win, you don’t lose and get out of it with points,” added Dos Santos. “We believe that we have enough to go there (Salt Lake City) and have a positive result.”

Get your weekly dose of news and analysis on the Vancouver Whitecaps by listening to Fine Lines live on Sportsnet 650 every Monday from 9:00 to 10:00 p.m. PT. Hosted by Dan Riccio and J.J. Adams.

NEWS AND NOTES

Both of Vancouver’s goals on opening weekend came from defenders (Godoy and Canadian Doneil Henry). Last season, Whitecaps defenders combined for just four goals.
 
Yordy Reyna, who set up Vancouver’s first goal last Saturday, enters the weekend with 16 career MLS assists. The Whitecaps all-time leader in assists isPedro Morales (22).
 
Saturday will mark Freddy Montero’s 150th career MLS start (playoffs included). He has two goals and two assists in 11 career matches vs. Real Salt Lake.
 
Lifetime, the Whitecaps are 9-7-4 against RSL, which includes going 1-6-3 at Rio Tinto Stadium. Vancouver’s lone road victory came April 18, 2015 (1-0) on a night that saw Real finish the match with nine playerss.
 
Salt Lake had the best home record in MLS in 2018 (11-2-4). Long-time captain Kyle Beckerman is the league’s all-time leader for games played by an outfield player (464) while goalkeeper Nick Rimando, now into his 19th MLS season, is 14 matches shy of 500 for his career.

When submitting content, please abide by our submission guidelines, and avoid posting profanity, personal attacks or harassment. Should you violate our submissions guidelines, we reserve the right to remove your comments and block your account. Sportsnet reserves the right to close a story’s comment section at any time.