VANCOUVER, B.C. – Despite an unlikely comeback to secure a 2-2 draw in the dying minutes of their trip to Real Salt Lake on Saturday evening, Vancouver Whitecaps goalkeeper David Ousted captured perfectly after the game just why his team should not be content with a hard-earned point on the road.
"The whole first half was a horrible experience," Ousted said, "and not the kind of team we want to be."
The Whitecaps did turn things around for the second week in a row to come away with a draw, their third such result in five games against Western Conference opposition in 2014. But it's not a scenario Ousted wants to see his team in regularly.
"It was fantastic coming back. We did it last week and did it again this week, but I think it's important not to become the team that always comes from behind," noted Ousted. "We need to get ahead and we need to play better in the first half.
"We can go toe to toe with any team in this league but we need to be there from the start."
They certainly didn't seem to be there when Saturday's game kicked off. Vancouver were sliced apart to the tune of two goals in nine minutes and withstood a further onslaught for the rest of the first half before finally regrouping after halftime.
And though they relied on a bit of luck – Nicolás Mezquida's strike off a rebound in the 86th minute – and a transcendent equalizer from Sebastián Fernández in the fourth minute of stoppage time to get the result, veteran 'Caps defender Andy O'Brien didn't mind the manner of his team's comeback.
"I'm not really bothered what team we become as long as first and foremost we don't get beat," he told reporters at training on Tuesday.
The Irishman felt that the competitiveness and hunger for lineup spots is one of the reasons fans continue to see the team rebound from slow starts.
"We're a team that's trying to find ourselves still. Each week guys are coming off the bench and giving themselves an opportunity to maybe start the next game," he added. "It's just a matter of time and hopefully we might find the continuity and the team might pick itself in that respect."
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Even as his team coalesces, however, the problem of how to get his team to start games on the right foot remains at the forefront of head coach Carl Robinson's mind, even as he praised the team's "phenomenal" character in its latest comeback.
"If you know, let me know," Robinson joked to reporters at training on Tuesday about a finding a solution to his team's slow starts. "We've started slow in one or two games, we don't get into that rhythm. At home we start on the front foot and it's important we do that on Saturday [against the San Jose Earthquakes], but even away from home it's important we start on the front foot as well. We'll be working on that prior to the next away game.
"It's easy to play when you're losing the game and they played with no fear in the second half when we were 2-0 down. I want them to play that way when it's 0-0 at the start of the game."