Kendall Waston is in playoff mode - even though the post-season is still months away.
The Vancouver Whitecaps captain called Friday’s home game against Real Salt Lake a must-win. The Whitecaps (3-4-1) are looking to rebound from a horrific 6-0 loss to Sporting Kansas City last weekend. The setback was Vancouver’s most lopsided Major League Soccer loss.
“Must-win? Yes, of course,” Waston told reporters this week. “Nothing else.”
The Whitecaps have been outscored 10-1 during a three-game losing streak and 17-8 on the season.
Vancouver lost two players - forward Yordy Reyna and striker Efrain Juarez - to red cards in Kansas City as a result of their roles in a 40th-minute skirmish. Both are slated to miss Friday’s game due to automatic one-game suspensions. Meanwhile, top scorer Kei Kamara remains sidelined with a groin injury.
However, Waston is not worried about a possible lack of artistry for the shorthanded Whitecaps.
“The main thing here is we need to win - pretty or ugly, just win,” said Waston.
The Whitecaps are also looking to rebound from a mediocre showing in a 2-0 home loss to expansion side Los Angeles FC two weeks ago, when they were booed off the pitch.
“Now, it’s not about the beautiful soccer,” Whitecaps midfielder Felipe told reporters. “It’s about how much we care about this team, how much we show personality next game.
“That’s what good teams do. It’s a wake-up call.”
Real Salt Lake (3-3-1) is looking for its second win over the Caps this season after posting a 2-1 victory in Utah three weeks ago.
However, RSL has lost seven of its nine all-time games at B.C. Place Stadium. The club is a woeful 9-31-18 all-time on artificial surfaces.
Although the Whitecaps appear vulnerable to another setback, RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando is not taking anything for granted.
“It’s going to be a big game,” Rimando told RSL’s website. “We are going to be ready for them to have some hunger.
“It’s not good to lose the way they did in Kansas City, so we expect them to have some fire in them.”
—Field Level Media