VANCOUVER, B.C. – Through four matches – two at home, two on the road – the Vancouver Whitecaps are developing a trend the club would prefer to change, and soon.
The Whitecaps opened the season with home wins over Toronto FC and the Columbus Crew, but have since played two games on the road, struggling in both and falling defeat to the Houston Dynamo and Chivas USA. This weekend the 'Caps look to reverse the trend of road struggles when they travel to Buck Shaw Stadium to face the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday (10:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online).
Some of the players believe the team's effort in road matches is lacking, resulting in the lackluster efforts away from BC Place.
“I think that’s the minimum [expected],” center back Andy O’Brien said in reference to players putting in the effort on game day. “You can misplace passes and things like that, and can have an off day … but there’s no substitute for hard work, and it starts on the training ground. Then hopefully you take that into the game when it matters.”
O’Brien added that head coach Martin Rennie faces several challenges when trying to motivate his players, with the diverse personalities within the squad, all of whom react differently to praise and criticism.
“You can’t rule with an iron fist,” O’Brien said. “There’s all different characters, but there are buttons you can press on people to get them to work a little bit harder.”
Starting strongly has also been a focus of discussion this week, after the ‘Caps looked fairly tame in the Chivas defeat over the weekend until the introduction of Kenny Miller and Erik Hurtado in the 58th minute.
“As a team we just have to make sure we [start strongly],” Nigel Reo-Coker said. “We have to start the game right and start at a high tempo. We’ve got athleticism in this team. Playing to our strengths, we have to play at a high tempo. That’s something we need to do. It’s nothing that management can do.
“It’s down to us to take the responsibility as players to say we have to start right.”