VANCOUVER, B.C. – What a difference a week makes for Vancouver Whitecaps.
The Whitecaps were perhaps not back to their very best, but Saturday’s 1-0 win over Seattle was a much improved performance from their loss in Colorado seven days prior, a result that ended an eight-game unbeaten run.
"Any game against Seattle is always tough, physical," Whitecaps coach Carl Robinson told reporters after the match. "I think we've had two games against them where it's draining. I said to the players they must be absolutely exhausted because I am and I haven't even run.
"It's credit to them. Probably the game came at the right time for us. I don't think we've been bad but I don't think we've been good. Obviously not scoring a goal in two games has obviously been talked about but we got back to work this week and we refocused on certain things."
Suspensions, injuries and the absences of returned US World Cup stars Clint Dempsey and DeAndre Yedlin, meant it was a weakened Seattle side that took to the pitch in Vancouver.
Weakened, but still top of the Western Conference and on a fine five match unbeaten run, Seattle still proved tricky opponents for Vancouver to break down and Robinson warned his players beforehand of the dangers of such games.
"I told them it was going to be a more difficult game and the reason is because everybody knows about the starters and the big time players," Robinson said. "Seattle have a few of them. When you get an opportunity when you're not in the team as a regular starter, you give everything. Some of their guys got their chance today and I knew it would be a very difficult game.
"It was a trap game for us and we had to make sure we were up for it. If we concentrated on our performance and done our jobs correctly, which we did, then usually nine times out of 10 the result takes care of itself and that's what happened today."
Vancouver had stuttered since their return from the World Cup break, failing to score in their matches against Montreal and Colorado and only registering one shot on target against the Rapids last week.
They bounced back with 13 attempts on goal – six on target – and came away with a crucial three points. As to what has changed from last week to this, Robinson put it down to one key thing, "confidence"
"I thought reactions when we lost the ball, especially the first 20 minutes, half an hour were fantastic," Robinson noted. "If we're going to go with the young group of players, which we are, the one thing we can't do is let teams outwork us. The youth, the enthusiasm, the exuberance that young players have has got to be infectious on the pitch.
"Prior to the last two games I think we've seen that for the majority of the games and today was what we were all about. So get used to watching these young players."