BURNABY, B.C. — Wednesday’s match against table-topping Sporting Kansas City represents the season’s biggest test so far for the Vancouver Whitecaps (10 pm ET; watch LIVE online).
“It’s going to be a great challenge for us,” Sebastien Le Toux told MLSsoccer.com after a training session at Burnaby Lake. “They are the favorite and I think it’s going to be good for us.”
Sporting have looked impenetrable at the back in the early stages of the season, conceding only one goal on the way to a perfect 6-0-0 record to start 2012.
GOAL: Le Toux fires home opening goal
In contrast, the Whitecaps have struggled to score, only finding the back of the net four times in their first five matches of the season, and but once in their last three games.
“It’s something we don’t really think about,” Le Toux said. “The media talks about it, but we know what we have to do. But we need to focus on ourselves and playing well together, and I’m sure the goals will come.”
After an impressive start to the season in which the ‘Caps began with two wins, results have slowed down some. The team picked up two scoreless draws before a 3-1 loss to the San Jose Earthquakes in their last match.
“The last couple of games we’ve plateaued a bit,” captain Jay DeMerit said. “It’s up to us to take responsibility for things like that, and make sure we are making statements throughout the season, and this is a great opportunity to do that.”
Fans will remember last season’s encounter between these sides in Vancouver, when both teams delighted the Empire Field crowd with a 3-3 draw which included an injury-time double from Camilo.
“That was one of the best memories of last year,” midfielder John Thorrington said. “Hopefully we don’t give up three goals and have to come back from three goals, but [KC] are riding a big wave of confidence having started so well, but we’re at home. We expect to win every home game no matter who we’re playing and Wednesday will be no different.
“We’ll be looking to give them some things to worry about and hopefully come out on top.”
Etienne Barbara, the Maltese attacker who can play as a wide player or as a forward, feels closer to a return. The 29-year-old is targeting his Whitecaps debut sometime in May as he continues his recovery from a sports hernia injury suffered on day one of preseason training.
Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com.