VANCOUVER, B.C. – One last chance at a road win.
That’s what Saturday’s match against FC Dallas (8:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online) represents for the Vancouver Whitecaps, as they hope to make it three wins in a row with a rejuvenated lineup fueled by youngsters like Long Tan, Camilo and Nizar Khalfan.
Before heading on their trip, the players were adamant they didn’t want to become the fourth team in MLS history to finish a season without an away victory, joining the LA Galaxy (2003), Real Salt Lake (2005) and the New York Red Bulls (2009).
“You look at seasons and benchmarks, and nobody wants to have that on their record,” captain Jay DeMerit told MLSsoccer.com this week. “We’ll carry that into Dallas and make sure that we try to keep these same performances going.”
And for the first time in a long time, the ‘Caps are going into a road contest on a high. Not only are the new inclusions making an impact, but veterans like left fullback Alain Rochat and midfielder John Thorrington are playing in their natural positions for the first time in a while and making a difference.
Thorrington, in particular, has brought composure to the central midfield area, bossing the middle of the park in the last two wins after playing primarily as a wide right midfielder under interim head coach Tom Soehn.
“He's been huge for us,” DeMerit said of Thorrington. “You can see how much we’ve missed him over this whole season. He’s a guy that’s got experience, a guy that can calm things down when things get crazy. He can keep the ball for us when we need to and that’s what central midfielders do – that’s their role, so for him to finally come in and play that role has been huge for us.”
For goalkeeper Joe Cannon, who has watched a multitude of players try and claim that central midfield spot beside Gershon Koffie this season, Thorrington’s role cannot be understated.
“It’s the first time we’ve seen him play 90 in the middle all year long,” Cannon said following Wednesday’s 2-1 victory over D.C. United. “He made a real difference and he’s a guy who can make a difference if he’s healthy. He brought a lot of tenacity with him and Gershon. There wasn’t much going on through the middle for the other teams [in the last two victories] – they try to go wide now because those guys are a bunch of beasts.”
Cannon told reporters before leaving Vancouver that claiming a road win against Dallas wasn’t important to him from a statistical perspective, but rather for the players to continue to show that they can be assets for this team next season.
“It’s important,” Cannon said. “For us, we just need to go out with the same sort of desire and play as a team as we have been and let the chips fall where they may. For us, that’s more important right now, getting these guys confident and playing together as a team. At the end of this year, we all want to have an idea of our abilities and what we can bring to the table when next year comes around.”
Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com.