One team is desperate.
The other? Definitely not.
The Vancouver Whitecaps (11-10-7, 40 points) fit the desperate description as they prepare to host content side FC Dallas (14-6-8, 50 points) Sunday at B.C. Place Stadium. The Caps are fighting for their playoff lives here in the stretch drive of the Major League Soccer regular season, while the Toros are just trying to see whether they will earn a first-round bye.
“We’re hungry for points,” Whitecaps striker Kei Kamara told reporters. “Nobody wants to be done by the end of next month. We want to keep playing.”
Ostensibly, Dallas, vying for top spot in the Western Conference, is a much better team. But Vancouver coach Carl Robinson insists that his club is up for the task.
“These guys know how to handle big games,” Robinson told reporters.
Some observers have argued otherwise, based on the Whitecaps’ 2-1 home loss to Seattle last weekend. However, the Whitecaps did manage to salvage a late 2-2 tie in Dallas on May 19. Kamara scored on a penalty kick in the 100th minute, tying a record for the latest goal in a regulation match in league history after stoppage time was added.
The Whitecaps were extremely lucky after only launching a comeback on a Dallas own goal in the 82nd minute. Kamara’s spot kick was the Whitecaps’ only shot on target in that contest.
But Dallas coach Oscar Pareja is expecting a strong effort from the hosts.
“Vancouver’s a very physical team that allows for transition, and have players with pace,” he told reporters. “That’s what we saw from that team, and it’s a team we respect.”
Winger Yordy Reyna will return to the Whitecaps lineup after serving a one-game suspension for yellow-card accumulation. He will provide spark to a team that often relies on his speed and passing ability for its trademark counter-attacks.
Dallas striker Dom Badji told reporters that he anticipates a “very back-and-forth game” that will be decided by strong defense.
“And we like our defense over anybody’s,” he said.
—Field Level Media