VANCOUVR – The Vancouver Whitecaps prepare to wind down one of the most hectic stretches of their Major League Soccer schedule when they host FC Dallas at BC Place on Saturday afternoon.
The Whitecaps have returned home after posting back-to-back draws against Sporting Kansas City (1-1) and New York Red Bulls (2-2). It was a rollercoaster ride of a trip for Vancouver both on and off the field. In no particular order, the matches included a red card, an own goal, a last-minute equalizer, a goal-line clearance and a video review resulting in a penalty kick. Add in the fact the Whitecaps had a flight cancelled between the two cities, and you have a trip the players are thrilled they earned points from.
“It was a great trip for us, two well-earned points,” midfielder Russell Teibert said. “We’re in good run of form right now and we feel like we’re growing as a club.
“We’re getting closer and closer. It’s a tight knit group and it’s a great locker room to be a part of.”
A pair of defenders were able to contribute to the offence in the Whitecaps this past week. Derek Cornelius scored his first MLS goal deep into stoppage time in Kansas City while Scott Sutter netted his first for Vancouver to open the scoring in New York.
Sutter had three goals in 2018 for Orlando City, his most recent coming last September against the Philadelphia Union. For a club that has struggled to produce goals, Sutter was thrilled to have been able to contribute last weekend.
“Obviously, I’m happy to have scored my first as a Whitecap, which is a great feeling,” the 33-year-old defender admitted. “It’s definitely something I can build on. Hopefully it continues.”
Some will say the Whitecaps record of 3-6-5 is justified. Some will say it is flattering for the second-lowest scoring team in the league. Regardless how they have arrived to this point, the fact remains all but one match Vancouver has played this season has either been decided by one goal or finished in a draw.
For a team that has logged plenty of travel miles and continues to form chemistry, coach Marc Dos Santos feels their play in May has them moving in the right direction.
“I’m not a microwave type of guy,” Dos Santos explained upon returning to Vancouver. “I understand everybody wants things fast. I’ve always been confident in the base we’re putting in.”
Entering the weekend, the Whitecaps still find themselves within striking distance of the playoff bar in the Western Conference. As they prepare to host a Dallas side who are winless in their last five matches, Dos Santos knows a result this week would go a long way to building momentum into June.
“The important thing is that you stay in the fight for the playoffs,” Dos Santos. said “Today we are in that fight. I just feel that this team is only growing and that’s positive.”
NOTES & TIDBITS
Saturday marks the 21st all time meeting between the Whitecaps and FC Dallas. Vancouver is 5-10-5 against Dallas. Four victories and four draws in that series for Vancouver have come at home.
Freddy Montero leads all Vancouver players in head-to-head scoring against Dallas. In 11 career meetings with the Toros, Montero has scored six goals and added five assists.
Dos Santos confirmed defender Doneil Henry, midfielder Lass Bangoura and forward Joaquin Ardaiz are all unavailable to play Saturday as they nurse leg injuries. Yordy Reyna is a possibility to return after missing the last five games with a strained hamstring.
When the Whitecaps played the Red Bulls, they were facing a team without one of their top centre backs as Tim Parker was suspended. The same occurs Saturday, as Dallas defender Matt Hedges will miss the match after receiving a red card last Sunday against LAFC.