The Vancouver Whitecaps were back at training this week after a tough loss to Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Co over the weekend. After another frustrating defeat, his team remains upbeat and optimistic as they look to pick up that elusive first victory of the season as they head to Chicago on Friday for another pivotal match.
“I was pleased with the first half, but at the day, (it’s) Galaxy 2 Vancouver 0,” Marc Dos Santos said after training Tuesday. “If I look at the 3 of the 4 last halves that we played, do I see a lot of positives? Yes, of course, I feel we played a first half against the Galaxy with no sense of inferiority, we were the better team, we were the team that created the best”
It was tough for his squad, as they played positively the first-half, controlling play and putting the LA on the back foot. They ended up ruing their missed chances the second-half, as LA’s difference maker, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, took over the game, handing the Caps their 4th defeat in 5 matches.
“But at the end it gets to half-time zero-zero against a team that has a difference maker, and the same will happen (against other teams),” Dos Santos mentioned. “ if we play DC United with Rooney, we play LAFC with Vela, if we play teams that have some of the guys that can actually make a huge difference, and if they game is zero-zero, if you don’t finish the chances you have, one of those guys can make the difference”
It’s those lack of pivotal match-defining moments that have been plaguing the Caps the last few matches, as they have struggled to score from open play. One of the reasons for that has been the struggles of striker Fredy Montero, who has 1 goal in 5 matches, a penalty he converted against Houston. He has lacked the confident finishing that made him a fan-favourite the first go around.
“Ask any other member in this club, I can do better,” Montero said after training. “But I’m not focused on myself, this team needs a victory, (cause) that’s gonna give confidence to every single player in this team”
Montero has looked off of late, as he recovers from making the move over from Sporting CP in Portugal. Joaquin Ardaiz started over him against the Galaxy, but Montero will likely draw back in against the Fire, as he looks to discover some good form and confidence as his team chases a victory.
Another big talking point was the Panenka Penalty attempted by left-back Ali Adnan. It could have given the Caps a lead, giving them the confidence to hold off the Galaxy, but it instead ended up being another one of many chances the Caps have rued missing throughout the season. Had the kick been executed correctly, it would have been a beautiful goal, but that’s the risk that attempting a move like that entails.
“It happens,” Russell Teibert said when asked about the attempt. “He’s an unbelievable player. He showed his quality over the past two games, he’s one of the most exciting players to watch”
“You guys see him shoot in the game, he can shoot from 40 yards, so you could think he could score from 12 yards out, and he will (if the opportunity comes up again).”
Felipe echoed that statement, saying that it has to end up in the goal, but they remain supportive of Adnan.
“If you take that PK, you gotta score” Felipe said. “We support him here, he’s our teammate, he’s a guy who always gives everything. He’s been fantastic with us, we have to support him after that”
Dos Santos remains hungry for that first win, as the Caps chase that first victory of the season. As crunch time approaches, it is important the Caps get up and running as they try and get back into the playoffs.
“We were at that stage for me against Minnesota,” Dos Santos said when asked about how crucial it is to get victories in this stage of the season. “We need that win, absolutely, when are we going to get it? I hope in Chicago, then the schedule is always difficult, Chicago, LA, Orlando, are we in a critical situation? For me, if you’re talking about making the playoffs? Of course, we are, 100%. We can’t be delusional”
The Caps continue to train as they prepare to face a Chicago side facing a lot of stuff off the field. It is never easy to win away in MLS, but facing a team who has been through all sorts of stuff the last two seasons, the Caps can feel confident. While Nico Gaitan is a possibility to make his first start in MLS after two appearances off the bench, the Fire look vulnerable in the back, as they have tried many things including playing star midfielder Schweinsteiger at centre back, an interesting solution.
Our match preview will be up in the next few days, as it should be a good one!
Whitecaps vs Fire
Friday, April 12th, 17h30 PST