Vancouver Whitecaps head coach Vanni Sartini implored his side to capitalize on a four-game home stretch to overturn a poor run of form before they host Toronto FC in MLS.
The Caps are bottom of the Western Conference after managing just four points from their opening eight league games.
That marks Vancouver’s worst start since 2011 and Sartini knows it is now or never for his side to kickstart their season.
“We need to really focus on what is in front of us,” Sartini told media.
“We have a big chance with these four games in a row at BC Place to really get back on the right track immediately, and we need to take this chance.”
Axel Schuster, Caps sporting director added”I told the team that we get another big chance in front of a good crowd with high broadcast ratings to show another face, and to continue where we ended last season.
“And also what we did already in a few home games (this season).”
Fellow Canadians Toronto have lost their last three domestic games, most recently dropping a 3-0 reverse against FC Cincinnati and dropping to ninth in the Eastern Conference.
Coach Bob Bradley, though, believes his side can build on that loss.
“The first goal comes where they just play a long ball,” said Bradley post-match. “I look at each situation. I saw a lot of good defending.
“To play down a man for almost 90 minutes there were a lot of moments of closing things down, winning the balls in decent spots.
“The mentality of the group was strong and if we can continue to build on that that’s going to help us.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Vancouver Whitecaps – Brian White
Brian White needs to find his form for the Caps soon. After scoring a team-leading 12 goals last season, he has just one to his name this term – a strike in a 2-1 defeat to CF Montreal.
Toronto FC – Jesus Jimenez
Jesus Jimenez ended his three-match scoring run last time out, but is still tied for the MLS lead on the scoring charts (six goals – level with Sebastian Driussi).
KEY OPTA FACTS
·The Whitecaps have avoided defeat in their last two MLS matches against Toronto (W1 D1), including a 3-2 win the last time the sides met at BC Place (September 2020). Vancouver has never gone three straight matches without defeat against the Reds in MLS play.
·The Whitecaps have lost six of their first eight matches this season (D1 L1), including the last three in a row. This is the second time Vancouver has lost six of its first eight matches (W2 D0 L6 in 2020) while the four points are the fewest the Whitecaps have had at this stage of an MLS season.
·Toronto’s road winless run extended to 13 games with a 2-0 loss to Cincinnati on Wednesday (D4 L9). Toronto has just one longer road winless run in its MLS history, going 14 straight without a win in March-August 2011.
·No team has attempted a higher percentage of their shots inside the box this season than Vancouver (73.9%) Despite that, Vancouver has hit the target with an MLS-low 21.6 percent of its shots, nearly five percent lower than any other team (Toronto first at 45.3%).
·After conceding in the second minute, Toronto saw Ralph Priso-Mbongue sent off in the sixth minute on Wednesday against Cincinnati, making the Reds the first team to both concede a goal and have a player sent off in the first six minutes of an MLS match since FC Dallas against Seattle in July 2016.