VANCOUVER, B.C. – The Vancouver Whitecaps get back on the pitch on Saturday against the New York Red Bulls (7 pm ET; TSN2 in Canada, MLS LIVE in US), refreshed and re-energized after a bye week and some vacation time away with their families.
It was the perfect mental boost heading into their break, following the 'Caps first-ever road win over the LA Galaxy, a victory which coach Carl Robinson feels left his players "in a good frame of mind" for both their time off and their return to MLS action.
While building on that momentum may have been preferable in some respect, Robinson said the break came at the perfect time for the Whitecaps, coming as it did in the middle of a grueling five-game stretch on the road, after a busy spell that led Vancouver into a mixed run of form.
“The way we were in that period of time, we win one, we lose one, we win one, we lose one, so the break’s come at a good time," Robinson told reporters at training yesterday. "Mentally as well as physically for us. The players have responded very well to it. I won’t know until probably Saturday night if it’s a good thing or not. And I won’t make excuses for it."
Robinson has reason to wait to see just how good or bad this current break will be for his team. But history is not on Vancouver's side.
The Whitecaps were flying through a seven-game unbeaten streak around this time last season before the World Cup break hit. They came back flat, winning just two of their next 13 games, in what has now become their traditional summer slump.
Vancouver have both started and finished the past three seasons strongly. But the summer has proved to be a hard and fruitless slog, and Robinson is sick of hearing about it.
"I get reminded all the time of the summer months," Robinson said. "You've just got to prove people wrong. That's what this job is all about. Whatever game you play, you want to try and win.
"If you play a team that you've never beaten before, which we've done a few times, you've got to try and change it because records are there to be broken. It's a record that we don't like, I don't like. We've just go to be positive with it and try and keep these guys in good spirits for each game."
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One Whitecap who has lived through all the summer slumps these past seasons is left back Jordan Harvey. Now in his fifth year in Vancouver, the veteran believes this time it will be different, with the squad having a much better mindset and style of play.
It's taken the team to the top of the standings. The key now is finding the way to keep it all going.
"We can't take our foot off the gas," Harvey said. "We've been in this position last year and we didn't do so well after this, so it's very important that we maintain this focus and the concentration on the field.
"Just continue what we're doing. Defensively on the road, we're very sound and we are creating chances, so if we can continue this, with that in the back of our head that it has happened in the past, I think we'll be fine."