VANCOUVER, B.C. — The Vancouver Whitecaps host rivals Montreal Impact at Empire Field in the second leg of their Nutrilite Canadian Championship semifinal series on Wednesday, and with a 1-0 lead from the first leg, they're confident they can finish off their lower-tier opponents.
However, in order to complete their triumph, they’ll need to tighten up on the costly mistakes that have left them winless in their last seven MLS matches.
Last Saturday’s 2-1 defeat by the Columbus Crew provided the most recent examples. Columbus' first goal came off of a poor touch from Jonathan Leathers, which led to a questionable decision by goalkeeper Jay Nolly and a penalty for the Crew that Emilio Renteria converted. The second goal also could have been avoided as a lapse in marking by center back Mouloud Akloul gave Renteria enough space to score another after a sustained build-up from Columbus.
“Unfortunately at the moment, any little mistake we make we’re getting punished for,” said midfielder Terry Dunfield. “It is frustrating, but I think we need to learn from these mistakes now. We need to make teams really work for their goals.”
The ‘Caps will have to do just that against the Impact. The Whitecaps hold the advantage, but only by the slimmest of margins. Montreal, meanwhile, come to Vancouver a confident bunch after earning their first win of the season, a 5-0 drubbing in NASL league play against fellow Canadian club FC Edmonton on Sunday evening.
“We needed a win and all the players answered well,” Impact head coach Marc Dos Santos told the team’s official website. “It’s an important win morally before Wednesday’s highly anticipated game against Vancouver.”
The sudden goal output by Montreal will have gotten the attention of Teitur Thordarson and his coaching staff. The problem for Thordarson, though, is that his team has had little time to prepare lately as they’re in midst of a stretch that sees them play seven matches in 18 days.
“You can say at the moment that there is not much space for real training,” the coach said of the busy schedule. “It is mostly recovery and light preparation before the game, so there are no real trainings at the moment.”
Evidently, this grueling gauntlet of matches has made it difficult for the ‘Caps to correct their mistakes, but that’s exactly what they’ll need to do if they hope to not only win the Voyageurs Cup, but also to turn around their fortunes in MLS.
“I’m not unhappy with the team, absolutely not,” said Thordarson. “But we’ve been punished hard.”