VANCOUVER, B.C. – Play spoilers and make BC Place a place nobody wants to play.
Those are the stated aims of the Vancouver Whitecaps as they host playoff-hunting D.C. United on Wednesday night (10 pm ET, watch LIVE online).
“They’re in a playoff hunt, so we get a chance to disrupt that,” interim head coach Tom Soehn told MLSsoccer.com after training on Tuesday. “In some ways, payback for what happened to us [in a 4-0 loss to D.C. on Aug. 13].
“I thought we played a good first half there, but fell apart at crucial times,” he continued. “So it’s up to us to pay them back a bit in our building, but most importantly put a sound performance together on our end.”
United are five points back of the New York Red Bulls and Houston Dynamo, the sides currently holding the final two wildcard playoff positions, and Vancouver know the importance of the match.
“If you see the teams that are in the playoffs, the majority, if not all of them, have taken advantage of their home form,” goalkeeper Joe Cannon said. “For us, we need to establish BC Place as being our fortress and a place where we go in and know that a result is almost imminent. For teams coming in, we need to almost give them no hope.”
Signs of making their new home that fortress were there against Real Salt Lake last week in a 3-0 win, but there were a few new faces manning the barricades.
Players like Long Tan and Nizar Khalfan got a start for the first time in a while, and regular starters found themselves in different roles. Alain Rochat returned to left fullback, while Jordan Harvey was pushed up to the wing. The two looked comfortable together on the left side and interchanged well throughout the match.
“We’re both primarily left backs, so we covered for each other,” Harvey said. “We do a good job of communication and I think that last game was good. Hopefully we can come out with another performance like that [against D.C.].”
Last week’s match was also interesting because the team managed to win without either of its Designated Players involved, as Eric Hassli was suspended and Mustapha Jarju didn’t get off the bench.
“It tells you that it’s about a team, it’s not about individuals,” Soehn said of the pair not playing a part. “Teams win you games and it’s up to them to fit into the scheme of what the team is doing.”
Another side note is the possibility of Dwayne De Rosario playing two games in two nights after playing for Canada in a World Cup qualifying match against Puerto Rico in a 0-0 draw in Toronto on Tuesday night. Reports surfaced Wednesday that the MLS MVP candidate would not make the trip, which would certainly give D.C. less firepower against Vancouver.
“It’s tough,” Harvey said. “I mean, I don’t think I’ve played two games in back-to-back days since U-12. More power to him if he can do it, but we’ll see if he’s there.”
Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com.