"We need to step up": Vancouver Whitecaps confident of rebound in season-defining stretch

When the final whistle blew Saturday night at Lumen Field, the Seattle Sounders had clinched a berth in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs for a record 13th consecutive season.

The 4-1 loss dented the Vancouver Whitecaps' chances of booking their postseason spot, but not the club's confidence of ending a three-year playoff drought.

“I'm not worried about that,” defender Florian Jungwirth said. “I think when we came in the locker room obviously everyone was angry and disappointed. But right away we talked to each other and the focus is already there. Sunday we want to do it better, we play at home. We have a fortress at home and obviously we want to extend the series at home, so I don't think it will be a problem like mental wise to be prepared for Sunday.”

The Whitecaps left Lumen Field one point below the playoff line in the Western Conference. That number could change to two depending on the result of Sunday’s match between seventh-place Minnesota United FC and the Colorado Rapids.

Still, the focus has shifted to next Sunday’s showdown (10 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+) with Sporting Kansas City at BC Place.

Since their return to their home in Vancouver, the Whitecaps are 5W-1L-0D, the lone loss a 1-0 defeat to the Portland Timbers.

Half of the ‘Caps final six regular-season games are at BC Place.

“The last six games of the season are not easy,” defender Jake Nerwinski said. “But we know we're a good team, and we know that we're really difficult to play at home, so now we get to get some rest, get back home. And it's always hard for teams to play in BC Place, and I think we've proven that this year, our record shows it. So I think we still have all that confidence that we can get the three points.”

The final stretch drive is a difficult one, with Vancouver facing Sporting KC, Minnesota United and the Sounders at home and the Timbers, San Jose Earthquakes and LAFC on the road.

“We need to step up. We know next game is hard, maybe even harder than today against a great team like Kansas City,” interim coach Vanni Sartini said. “Then we have Portland, we have San Jose again. So we need to step up and try to do better, of course. I think today, defensively we didn't do very well like we did in the previous games.

"I think that we create a lot of chances, that's a good thing for the future. And we need to build on from this performance and try to be better against Kansas City. And of course, we'll rewatch the game, we'll rethink about it. From Tuesday we’ll go 100 percent on preparing the next game.”