VANCOUVER — With just 13 regular season games remaining, the Vancouver Whitecaps badly need a win Wednesday night on the road against the New England Revolution to keep their slim playoff hopes alive.
The Whitecaps (4-9-8) sit at the bottom of the Western Conference standings, tied with the Colorado Rapids with 20 points. That leaves them nine points back of the final playoff spot held by FC Dallas.
Vancouver has the least wins of any MLS team. The Whitecaps’ 22 goals this season is the least of any team in the West and the 34 allowed is tied for second worst in the conference.
Adding to the list of woes, the Whitecaps have lost three straight games and have just one win in their last 10 (1-4-5). During that streak they have been outscored almost two-to-one (11 goals for, 20 against).
Things have reached the point where the team was booed by its home fans in Saturday night’s 3-0 loss to Sporting Kansas City. That came on the heels of losing 6-1 on the road to Los Angeles FC.
Looking at the big picture can be bleak, so that’s why head coach Marc Dos Santos wants to keep his team focuses on the task at hand, finding a way to beat New England (6-8-6), a team which hasn’t lost in eight games and has wins in three of its last five match.
"You can’t dwell in the last game," said Dos Santos. "You have to move on.
"We have to be strong and have the pride to say this is not who we want to be, we want to be better."
Scoring has been a problem for the Whitecaps this year. They have managed one or fewer goal 14 times. There also have been breakdowns on defence with Vancouver giving up two or more goals nine times.
Centre back Doneil Henry said trying to lay blame isn’t the solution to Vancouver’s problems.
"I don’t want to make any excuses for why or what’s going on," said the Toronto native. "When you’re playing on a team that’s not doing well, it’s really easy to point the finger.
"But as a club, we’re not doing well. I think it’s kind of hard to just say that the defence as of late has been doing poorly. As a team we’ve been doing poorly and that needs to change."
The Revolution are coming off a 2-2 draw with D.C. United, a game in which they led 2-0 at one time.
Part of New England’s success is a defence that has allowed just eight goals in its last eight games.
"For the most part defensively we have played well," head coach Bruce Arena told New England’s website. "It’s a combination of things. We’ve had some good goal keeping and our backline has played well."
Arena doesn’t want his team to take the Whitecaps lightly.
"We have to get on the field and win this game," he said. "We’re going to go out and do what we’ve been doing."
The Whitecaps face an uphill battle to reach the playoffs. Instead of thinking about the steep climb, Dos Santos wants his team to focus on one step at a time.
"What I told the guys, now we have to take it game by game," he said. "We have to think about what we want to look like in the future. We still have a lot to play for.
"I’m challenging everybody in our locker room to show that we have the mental side. It’s not going to be a group that is blaming each other. It’s going to be a group that fights to grow and to become a better team."
VANCOUVER WHITECAPS (4-9-8) AT NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (6-8-6)
Wednesday, Gillette Stadium
WINLESS STREAK: Vancouver has lost three straight games and are winless in their last MLS six games (0-3-3).
IN AND OUT: Fredy Montero, the Caps’ leading scorer with six goals, is eligible to play after being suspended for Saturday’s 3-0 loss to Sporting Kansas City. Defender Ali Adnan will miss the game due to yellow card accumulation.
ROLLING REVOLUTION: New England is unbeaten in eight games (4-0-4).