VANCOUVER, B.C. – With Vancouver Whitecaps’ season now entering its crucial final third, the intensity has been noticeably ramped up at training this week as players vie for places in the starting lineup.
The Whitecaps currently sit in fifth place in the Western Conference and know that their fate rests in their own hands with eleven games remaining in the regular season. But with a tight run-in expected, Vancouver aren’t just happy to accept where they currently find themselves and are expecting more.
"I think if you're content, you're not pushing for the top and we're pushing for the top, so we're not content", midfielder Russell Teibert told reporters at training. "Today was an intense training session. It's competitive but once we leave the field, everyone forgets about it and we go back to being a family in the locker room.
"We know that we have a good base, we know that we have a good team. We're going forward. We haven't plateaued and we're going to keep going forward and we're going to keep pushing. We know that three points are important, whether we're at home or whether we're away, we're going to push for the win."
Those wins have been hard to come by recently for Vancouver, with only one in their last seven games. The Whitecaps are unbeaten in six matches, however, but with five of those games being draws, the focus for this final period of this season is to somehow find a way to turn those single points into three.
"There's been talk a lot about the draws and everything but we're still undefeated in a lot of games,” goalkeeper David Ousted said. "We've only lost two out of the last 17. We still need to build on that, we still need to be happy about that, but knowing that we still need to go for those wins."
"I think we have what it takes to get to the playoffs and get those wins. It's down to the little details. We've been really sound the last three, four weeks defensively. Those details have gone our way and we've been working on it. Now it's time to turn our attention to the little details offensively."
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Ousted described his teammates as having "the fire in their eyes" at training this week, but with the players fired up for the upcoming Galaxy matchup and beyond, there were some heavy challenges on display which forced coach Carl Robinson to remind his players not to do anything foolish that will hurt the team down the stretch, talking to his squad for over five minutes at the end of training on Tuesday.
"We've got to stick together as a team and sticking together means getting the best out of each other but in a respectable way," Robinson told reporters afterwards. "Training was very intense today. It's a very fine line between bordering on competing and going over the top.
"We've got to make sure that we compete without going over the top of each other. We save that [intensity] for the weekend."