VANCOUVER, B.C. -- There were mixed emotions in Vancouver on Wednesday night after the Whitecaps were held to a goalless draw at home to FC Dallas.
The result guaranteed the 'Caps a playoff spot for the second straight year, but it may have come at a cost, with their chances of a first round bye in the postseason disappearing fast and with some injuries to a couple of key players.
It was an underwhelming performance for the home side, with their attack once again misfiring, as they struggled to break down a Dallas side that were happy to soak up the pressure and try and hit Vancouver on the counterattack.
"I'm happy we're in the playoffs," Vancouver head coach Carl Robinson told reporters after the match. "It's credit to every single player and staff member that we managed to get into a very tough, competitive Western Conference with two games to go.
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"[On our] performance, I think we need to be better and it can be better. It's probably one of our ok games of the season, so we'll accept that. We looked tired today. Playing in third gear against a very good team."
Robinson put some of that tiredness down to the injury crisis that is now hitting the club at the worst possible time.
With Pedro Morales and Nicolas Mezquida already sidelined, the Whitecaps lost the influential Cristian Techera to a hamstring injury late in the match. He was quickly followed by Mauro Rosales, who was forced out with a groin pull, the latest in a run of injuries for the Argentine this season.
Robinson also revealed that he was down to the "bare bones" for his gameday squad, with some of those playing also carrying injuries and with defender Jordan Harvey playing on little sleep after becoming a father early on Wednesday morning.
"[Jordan] had three hours sleep but he wanted to play today to help the club and help the team," Robinson said. "I've got Pa [Modou Kah] whose groin is hanging off him, but wanted to play through the pain, and I've got Octavio [Rivero] who's got a sore Achilles. I've got great character in there."
While that character may be great, fighting through those pain barriers is not sustainable without risking further serious injuries.
Using their squad depth is not a perfect option at this stage of the season, but it may be the only one the Whitecaps now have, and goalkeeper David Ousted challenged those fringe players to show their worth.
"It’s tough right now," Ousted said. "A lot of people are dropping and getting niggles and injuries. It’s definitely tough, it would be for any team having guys like Techera, Pedro Morales, and then Rosales injured. It’s no excuse.
"Like I've said before, the guys coming in just need to step up. They’re here for a reason, they’re here because they’re good enough to be here and they get their chance now.”
The other worry for the Whitecaps right now is playoff positioning.
While the point sent Dallas to the top of the Western Conference standings, the two points Vancouver gave up have dented their hopes of a first round bye in the postseason.
Vancouver's target this year has always been a home playoff game. Missing that now would be a disappointing but Robinson doesn't agree that it would be a psychological blow and still feels his team is on course for success.
"There's going to be a very good team that misses out in the Western Conference," Robinson said. "If you miss out then obviously you'll be disappointed. I would have been disappointed, but we're not going to miss out. We're in the mix, which is all you can ask for to start with."