Game Day: Caps Keep Eye on the Prize Ahead of “Statement Game”

It’s another Vancouver Whitecaps gameday, as the Blue and White are preparing to take on Sporting Kansas City in what can best be described as a “statement game”. With both teams struggling in MLS play, this match provides a good chance for both teams to get 3 points on the board, providing a springboard to get both of their seasons back on track.

With fixture congestion a big issue for the Caps as late, coach Marc Dos Santos knows that it’s important to trust everyone in the lineup, as squad rotation can become paramount to success.

“The team is ready to go” Dos Santos said after training Friday. “Of course that the schedule of possibly 15 games in two months stretches you physically and mentally, and you need to have everybody in the roster ready to go”

“Hopefully the guys that are going to be called are going to answer. We trust that the guys that are going to be on the field are fresh, all ready to go in and it’s good to count with everybody”.

It’s that next man up mentality that was huge last time Vancouver faced Kansas, as they scored a late equalizer to come down from 1-1, despite both teams being down to 10 men, the Caps via a Doneil Henry injury late in the second half, while Kansas lost Kristian Nemeth to a horror tackle on Felipe earlier in the same half. 

The late hero on that evening, Derek Cornelius, was very excited about his goal, as it opened his Whitecaps account, but it was more the fact that the goal contributed to the collective result which pleased the young Canadian defender. 

Cornelius’s late-game heroics against Kansas ensured 1 point last time out

“Whether it’s a goal or a clean sheet, the most important thing are those 3 points” Cornelius told reporters on Thursday. “It’s massive, we need 3 points, to turn these draws into wins and start putting a run together, we know that’s not going to happen in one game, which is why we take it game-by-game”

“We know that we can’t get 10 points in one game”

It’s that game-by-game approach that will be key if the Caps are to keep any hopes of making the playoffs alive, as each game presents a unique opportunity to get all 3 points, with venues, form and teams providing different variables to consider each time out. 

While that may seem very obvious in principle, it can be tougher to execute, as the excitement of future matches can often overshadow current encounters. 

Dos Santos is doing a good job keeping that narrower focus, as he was quick to shoot down any thoughts of looking forward to important matches looming, such as the Canadian Championship, when asked if the intensity of this game could provide a springboard to those big games. 

“I think that I think that for us what’s important is to take one game at a time” Dos Santos reiterated.”It’s to think one match at a time and go from there, because what I really think is that when you’re in a stretch like this and you start envisioning and thinking about what’s next, you lose a lot in what’s in front of you” 

“We can’t think about New England and we can’t think about San Jose and Calgary. We think with all our energy first on our next game, and our next game is Sporting Kansas City”. 

Cornelius affirmed that statement, as he knows that despite their tough run of form, Kansas should not be taken lightly. 

“It’s a fresh game” Cornelius said. “ It’s a different team that we’re going to see, and it’s different moments from both teams where we are now”

With the Caps in no better form themselves, with one win from the last 10, pressure is starting to mount on Dos Santos, and while he is in no danger of losing his job, a strong performance would go a long way to appeasing some of the discontent Vancouver fans. 

The Caps are third worst team in terms of goals for in MLS, and have slipped a bit from their strong defensive pace, so MDS has hands full in terms of what they need to improve on, with those two items being the hot-ticket questions on the mouths of fans. So when asked about the easiest way to improve those two metrics, he stuck with the fundamentals. 

Dos Santos has a lot on his plate as he attempts to bust this negative run

“By winning” Dos Santos answered. “Winning by doing the little things a little bit better, defending better, creating chances. It was just one game. I would tell you that we’re totally out of it against LAFC in Los Angeles, so we have to defend much better than we did in LA and we have to grow offensively.”

“It’s been a stretch of a lot of draws but it’s also stretch that we don’t lose much, that we tied too many. Hopefully tomorrow we’ll be able to get back to it (a win)”

And they will do so today at 7, in front of the home crowd at BC Place. After a long time away, Cornelius and the rest of the squad will certainly be excited to do battle, bringing fans a much-awaited victory. 

“We love playing in front of our fans at home” Cornelius finished. “We’re going to look to get those three points at home”

Whitecaps FC vs Sporting Kansas FC, BC Place, 19:00 PST

Read our preview for today here: 

2019 Match Preview #21: Vancouver Whitecaps FC vs Sporting Kansas City: The Hunt for Goals

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