The Blue and White saw a three-match winning streak come to a crashing halt in Portland last Sunday, as the Timbers inflicted a bruising Cascadia Cup by punishing several calamitous defensive errors in a 4-2 victory at Providence Park.
As they prepare to host Western Conference cellar dwellers Houston Dynamo, Vancouver is keen to put in a mistake-free performance at BC Place this weekend.
“It is what it is, there’s no point crying over it,” Whitecaps head coach Carl Robinson said at training this week. “We lost a game of football on the weekend and we made four errors. We can’t keep doing that.
“We’ve conceded 24 goals in 14 games. If you look at individual errors, there are far, far too many, so we need to cut them out. We cut them out, we’ve got half a chance.”
Like many other MLS sides, international call-ups have affected the Whitecaps roster going into Saturday’s match-up, with Christian Bolanos and Kendall Waston (Costa Rica), as well as Blas Perez (Panama) all away preparing for next month’s Copa America Centenario in the United States. Coupled with injury concerns to right back Fraser Aird (bone bruise), there are several line-up decisions for Robinson to make.
“You can’t complain about it, you’ve got to deal with it, and we will deal with it,” Robinson said of the current absences. “Every team goes through it with suspensions, call-ups, and lack of form. Players will come in, and there will be a little bit of freshness in the team.”
One player likely to see action is the versatile Andrew Jacobson, who could be an option at centre back, with Waston away and Pa-Modou Kah looking out of sorts at former club Portland last weekend. The 30-year-old is ready to make his first start in nearly a month, if called upon.
“I spoke to the coach before I came (to Vancouver) and I said I can be there if he needs me in other spots,” the midfielder told Goal Canada. “I think, for the most part, I can play in any position in a crunch.”
While the Whitecaps deal with another line-up shuffle, Houston make its second visit of the season to Vancouver on the back of a turbulent week that saw head coach Owen Coyle part ways with the Texas-based outfit on Wednesday night. Though the Dynamo has lost every league match away from home this term, Whitecaps left back Jordan Harvey is not taking anything for granted.
“It’s one we have to take very seriously. We’ve had a nice week to build up to it, so we’re going to try to bounce back and play with confidence,” Harvey said. “We’re playing well at home and we have a lot of confidence playing at BC Place, so we’ll try and carry that in (to Saturday).”
Meanwhile, Whitecaps FC 2 continued its undefeated run in the United Soccer League (USL) with a 1-1 draw at Saint Louis FC on Wednesday night. The result keeps Alan Koch’s side at the top of USL Western Conference standings with a record of 6W-0L-3D and as the only team to have not fallen to defeat in North America’s third tier this term.