That’s not how the Vancouver Whitecaps wanted to enter the season finale.
With just four games left on the schedule, the Caps (9-14-7) are on a three-game losing skid and their playoff hopes are in tatters.
“Our backs are against the wall, and we’re trying to put together good performances,” defenseman Tristan Blackmon said Tuesday. “It was a battle for sure.”
However, the club is not about to give up. The Caps will continue to press as they begin a three-game home stand against the LA Galaxy (11-11-7) on Wednesday.
“(Making the playoffs) is going to be tough. We obviously have to win our four games, hopefully other results go our way,” attacking midfielder Ryan Gould said.
“But I would say that the main thing for us is to develop what we have liked in the last few months, a little bit more intensity, a little bit more. All we can do now is every game. We did it and looked for positive results.
Gould returned to Vancouver’s lineup after Saturday’s 3-1 loss to the Colorado Rapids after being suspended for picking up a yellow card.
With the Scottish star on the sidelines, Caps struggled to create chances.
Creating more offense through the final games of the regular season will require the team to be more aggressive, said Gould, who has six goals and seven assists in 24 major league soccer games this year.
“You’ve seen in some second halves lately, we’ve kept the ball for more than half of them,” he said. “And that’s something we need to do more of from the start of the game instead of always looking to play the long ball and get behind.
“We need to stick to the ball more, I think, to try and tire teams out and hopefully create openings.”
Controlling the game against LA will not be easy. After struggling at times this season, the Galaxy went into Vancouver on a six-game unbeaten streak (2-0-4) that began with a 5-2 win over the Caps on August 13th.
“They’ve got great players, although they’ve gone through a long period where they’ve struggled as well,” said Blackmon, who got to know the Galaxy well during his time with Los Angeles FC. “You see the talent they put on the field every time they play, and they have new achievements. So it’s going to be a good game.”
Vancouver will need to limit its defensive mistakes on Wednesday, Whitecaps head coach Vinny Sartini said.
“They’re a team that creates a lot, but they concede a lot,” he said. “So if you’re very strong defensively, we can win the game. If not, we won’t. (Offensively), I think we’ll have chances.
Despite their recent run, LA still sits three points below the Western Conference playoff bar.
The Whitecaps aren’t thinking about dashing the Galaxy’s postseason dreams, though, Sartini said.
“It’s not like we have any animosity or any grudge against anyone. We have to focus on ourselves,” he said. “The most points we can get at the moment is 46, so the aim is to make 46 points.
“The only thing that matters are the white caps.”
LA Galaxy (11-11-7) at Vancouver Whitecaps (9-14-7)
Wednesday, BC Place
INS AND OUTS: The Whitecaps will once again be without their leading scorer, Lucas Cavalli as he serves the third game of a four-match suspension. Vancouver midfielder Sebastian Berhalter is questionable with a knee injury and winger Deborah Cacido underwent season-ending surgery on his right knee. LA defenders Sega Coulibaly and Raheem Edwards have both been suspended for picking up yellow cards.
History books: The Galaxy have a 15-9-6 all-time record over the Caps, but haven’t won two games against Vancouver in a season since 2014.
The numbers: Vancouver has a -21 goal differential through 34 games this season, the worst of any team in the Western Conference. They are also the most accurate shooting team in MLS this season, hitting the target with 29.5 percent of their shots.