VANCOUVER – The Vancouver Whitecaps are finally home.
After playing their last five games on the road while the Women’s World Cup set up shop inside B.C. Place Stadium, the club hosts Sporting Kansas City on Sunday to kick off a crowded summer schedule.
Viewed as a stretch of games that could define their season, the Whitecaps picked up nine of a possible 15 points during their time away over the last six weeks, but were left lamenting a 2-1 loss to the Colorado Rapids that wrapped up the trip.
“I think you’ll always look at your last result,” said Vancouver head coach Carl Robinson. “We were disappointed we didn’t get anything out of the Colorado game, but overall we’re quietly satisfied with three wins out of five.”
The Whitecaps picked up victories over the Los Angeles Galaxy, New York Red Bulls and New England Revolution — teams all currently in playoff positions — but lost to the Montreal Impact and the Rapids, who both currently sit outside the top six in their respective conferences.
“Going into it saying we were going to win three games, I would probably disagree,” said Whitecaps striker Kekuta Manneh. “The guys stuck together and we got nine points out of those five games … some of our best performances of the season. We’ve got to take the positives out of that.”
Vancouver (10-7-2) sits tied on points with the Seattle Sounders atop the Western Conference heading into the weekend, but is just five up on Kansas City (7-3-6), which sits in sixth with three games in hand.
“We’re quite content where we are,” said Robinson. “We have dropped points at certain points this year, but we’ve picked up points in difficult places. We’ve got to find solutions. It won’t happen overnight. It will take time, but we’ll keep moving forward.”
Kansas City, which switched conferences this season, hasn’t played since a 6-2 drubbing of FC Dallas in the domestic U.S. Open Cup on July 1 and is 5-1-3 over its last nine in Major League Soccer.
“Really good team. They like to play football,” said Manneh, who has scored in three of the last four matches. “We want to play teams that want to play expansive football and keep the ball. That’s how we play so it should be an interesting game.”
With the Whitecaps involved in MLS, the Amway Canadian Championship final and the CONCACAF Champions League group stage, it’s critical to get off on the right foot on Sunday in their first of 11 games over the next seven weeks.
“If you ask any manager they will say if you can take care of your home business then you’ve got a chance of being in the playoffs. I’m no different,” said Robinson. “We need to be hard to beat at home. We need to get results at home. We’ve got a number of games at home where we’ve got to take points from.”
And like the road trip they just finished, the next segment of the schedule could be one that largely determines how the Whitecaps’ season pans out.
“We’re where we probably want to be at this moment,” said Robinson. “The next five or six games will probably dictate where it will end up … because the next five, six games are massive.”
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