Last Sunday’s 3-2 defeat was not in the Blue and White’s script of how they wanted to launch the 2016 campaign, and it made for a more focused frame of mind among Carl Robinson’s squad as it prepared for the first of two difficult road matches versus Western Conference opposition – starting with this Saturday’s clash at Sporting Kansas City.
“It’s one game of football. It’s three points,” Robinson said of Sunday’s defeat. “Unfortunately, we didn’t manage to get the three points, and credit to Montreal for doing that. We’ll focus on the next game.”
That game takes Vancouver to the Midwest for Sporting KC’s home opener, with Peter Vermes’ side buoyed by a season opening win at Seattle Sounders FC. Vancouver’s last visit to Children’s Mercy Park was one to forget, as the ‘Caps squandered a 3-1 lead late on to lose 4-3 on Aug. 15.
“KC are a batting team. Peter has them well organized and well drilled,” Robinson said. “These early games are really just testing the waters a little bit to see who tries to get off to a good start, and they certainly did on Sunday with a good away victory. We’ve got to try and get our first victory on the board this week.”
In spite of the loss to Montreal, there were some positive individual performances last Sunday. Among them was Kekuta Manneh’s contribution as a second-half substitute. The speedy winger believes the Whitecaps’ approach to road matches was essential in earning results away from Vancouver last season.
“I think it’s the way we set up when we go out there,” Manneh told reporters this week. “We played counterattacking when we were on the road. We used our qualities on the road like we did at home. I think we are going to try and do the same thing (this season).”
The Gambian youngster could be in line for a start in Kansas City, as the Whitecaps will be without new signing Christian Bolaños for Saturday’s game. On Thursday, the MLS Disciplinary Committee handed the Costa Rican international a one-match ban and fined him an undisclosed amount for his late tackle on Montreal center back Laurent Ciman.
There was also bad news on the injury front after the Whitecaps confirmed that Christian Dean will miss the next three to four months after the center back fractured the fifth metatarsal in his left foot during training last week. According to the club, the 22-year-old underwent successful foot surgery on Wednesday.