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'Caps strike early

VANCOUVER, BC - There’s no place like home, and that’s especially true for Vancouver Whitecaps FC.

The “quick-strike” ‘Caps have taken the term to a whole new level this season at BC Place. In seven MLS home matches, the Whitecaps have scored in the first 15 minutes on four separate occasions.

Most recently, rookie Jamaican striker Darren Mattocks opened the scoring against the Houston Dynamo just four minutes into the match June 10 at BC Place. And with speed like his, he’ll probably do it again.

“He’s always a threat, no matter what time of the game,” Whitecaps FC captain Jay DeMerit told whitecapsfc.com. “He can always get on the end of something because of his energy, his pace, and his willingness to compete.”

In any sport, the importance of having a quick-strike attack cannot be overstated. As the Whitecaps have proven, in soccer, when something that happens in the first few minutes can change the whole dynamic of the game, this becomes even truer.

For the players, coming out onto the pitch to a roaring crowd and a full stadium makes all the difference in the world.

“Nothing gets you going like a fan atmosphere and a rocking stadium,” DeMerit said. “No team wants to face an opponent with a crowd of 20,000 behind them. The more times we can create that intimidating environment, the better for all of us.”

As the Whitecaps continue their bid to qualify for the post-season for the first time in their young MLS history, picking up results on their home turf is going to be crucial.

Their next home match is today at 4 p.m. PST against the Colorado Rapids, who currently sit fifth in the MLS Western Conference, just three points behind the fourth-place ‘Caps. They then host the New York Red Bulls June 20 at 8 p.m. PST in what could be superstar Thierry Henry’s first appearance in Vancouver, before embarking on a five-game road trip.

“Especially at home, you want to get off on the right foot,” DeMerit said. “One way you can do that is helping create an environment that other teams don’t want to play in. That starts from the whistle, and even beforehand.”

When the ‘Caps hit the pitch for their afternoon affair today at BC Place, they’ll try to keep the trend going against a Rapids side who have conceded a goal in the first 15 minutes five times this season.

Just try not to blink or else you might miss it.