Marc Dos Santos wasn't ready to celebrate quite yet after his Vancouver Whitecaps side clawed back above the Western Conference playoff line with Saturday's 2-1 win over the San Jose Earthquakes at Providence Park.
The Vancouver coach preached caution, noting that there's still plenty of work to be done for his side to finish off a journey to what would be an unlikely postseason appearance, and that a lot of it will also depend on outside results. Those caveats aside, Dos Santos said his team isn't backing down from the challenge, and he's confident his players will continue to fight to ensure they won't relinquish their spot.
"The mindset, the belief, the mentality, the fighting to get in to be in the top eight is always there," Dos Santos said on his postgame video call. "We're going to push and try and have this team pushing to the end because we want to stay here. Although we miss our families, we want to stay here after the regular season to play in the playoffs.
"I don't want to celebrate something that is so far from being accomplished," he added. "We're still very far. Sometimes there's this X amount of points that looks so close but so far. Was it a step forward and very important? Yes. ...There's an improvement in the middle of a lot of adversity. Nobody here put their heads down. We're maximizing the group, everybody is pushing, everybody is working hard — staff, players. And the margin for progression for this club is very big. So these are all steps that allow the club to grow."
Highlights: Vancouver Whitecaps vs. San Jose Earthquakes
It's a sentiment that was echoed by veteran forward Tosaint Ricketts, who was the hero of Saturday's match with his 57th-minute goal standing as the game-winner.
The Whitecaps have had plenty of curveballs thrown at them this season, whether it was having five key players drop out of the MLS is Back Tournament in Orlando, or moving to a temporary home in Portland due to travel restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. With a postseason berth now in reach, Ricketts said the team is looking at it as an opportunity to show how they respond.
"It's not over 'til it's over," Ricketts said. "We've fought back this season, there's been a lot of adversity to go through. Players leaving, our group being separated during the MLS is Back Tournament, being away from our fans and families, living in Portland — a lot of obstacles we've had to overcome, there's a lot of obstacles going against us right now.
"But it's an opportunity to show what type of group we are, what type of organization we are and what we believe we can be now and in the future. We're fighting for every point, we're fighting to be in the playoffs and we'll keep fighting until the end."