The 3-1 battering D.C. United took last weekend at the hands of the LA Galaxy would normally dent the morale of most players on the losing side. Just don’t tell that to Joe Willis.
The second-year goalkeeper, who made five saves against the Galaxy in the loss, remains undaunted and determined to withstand the pressure of the Vancouver attack on Saturday night at BC Place (10 pm ET, watch LIVE online).
“They have [Sébastien] Le Toux, [Eric] Hassli, Camilo, [David] Chumiento, and they all pose different threats,” Willis told MLSsoccer.com on Friday. “Hassli is a big target guy, and Camilo and Chumiento are quick and good on the ball. With Le Toux, who has a whole bag of tricks sitting underneath them. They are a handful.”
Despite the praise for Vancouver, Willis was quick to point out that he fancied his own team’s chances.
“But I have a lot of confidence in our defense, and I’ll think we will be able to handle them,” he said.
Willis, who is filling while starter Bill Hamid is with the US Under-23 side for Olympic qualifying, has a history against the Whitecaps. Last season, he recorded his first win and first clean sheet of his professional career in a 4-0 win over Vancouver at RFK Stadium. He recognizes, however, the difference in quality a season can make.
“It’s a new team this year,” Willis offered. “They started out 2-0, they have a good attacking four. We are going to have to come out and try to get at them early.”
While unhappy about conceding three goals last weekend, Willis doesn’t allow that his confidence has taken too much of a hit. After making several critical saves to keep United relevant in the game, he used the "short-term memory" trait to keep focused on the game against the 'Caps.
“It always hurts your confidence a little bit to give up goals,” Willis said. “You always think, ‘What could I have done differently?’ But it’s one of the parts of being a goalkeeper – to have a short memory, and not letting too many things affect your confidence.”
As to which Whitecap the United defense needs to be on the lookout for, Willis refused to pinpoint just one player.
“I think it’s their group as a whole that you have to watch for,” he said.