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Leg 1
11/23 FINAL
1LA
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11/30 9:00pm
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LA
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NY
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Eastern Conference Championship

After big win, Whitecaps stress benefits of lengthy break

VANCOUVER, B.C. — After claiming their first win in eight games with a 4-0 dismembering of Chivas USA on Wednesday, the Vancouver Whitecaps might have hoped to get right back at it and keep things rolling.

The team will have to wait until Oct. 21, though, when they face the Portland Timbers in yet another crucial match as the club tries to keep distance between itself and FC Dallas, who are chasing Vancouver and the final Western Conference playoff berth they currently occupy.

“I think after you score four goals and you win a big game like that, you probably would like to be out there pretty quickly,” head coach Martin Rennie said following the win. “At the same time, there’s a lot we can do with that time.

“We always knew we’d have that time and we always knew that coming back to that game with Portland, [BC Place] is going to be jam-packed. It’s going to be sold out – the fans are going to be right behind us.”

While some might point toward the break as a bit of a momentum killer, just as important might be the extra time it will give to the club’s sidelined players.

The two-plus weeks without a match will allow the hamstrung duo of Darren Mattocks and John Thorrington a chance to recover, and give the returning Omar Salgado an extra couple of weeks of training as he inches closer to a return from a foot fracture that has kept him out since May.

READ: Current MLS standings

“The players that we’ve had out, including Omar, all have a chance to come back into contention,” Rennie said. “It would be great to have a fully fit squad for the run-in.”

While the club has had nearly two months since the major arrivals of Barry Robson, Kenny Miller and Andy O’Brien, the break will also allow further time to continue to develop chemistry after that midseason shuffle.

“In a way [it would be nice to play sooner], but I think that just sets up an excuse if things don’t go well,” captain Jay DeMerit said of the break. “It’s about us making sure we do what’s necessary off the field and on the training ground. The good thing about it is that we can get back on the training ground and gel as a team, which was part of the problem of why we were letting things slide.”

Four players won't be getting as big of a break, as Kenny Miller (Scotland), Atiba Harris (St. Kitts and Nevis), Dane Richards (Jamaica) and Carlyle Mitchell (Trinidad and Tobago) have all received international call-ups.

Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com.