Training report: Focus shifts to Real Salt Lake as Whitecaps FC return to training

Robinson: "It's another great challenge for us"

Robinson closeup on sidelines

Photo Credit: 
Bob Frid/Vancouver Whitecaps FC

VANCOUVER, BC – After back-to-back meetings with LA Galaxy, including an entertaining draw this past weekend at BC Place, the focus for Vancouver Whitecaps FC shifted to Real Salt Lake as the ‘Caps returned to training Tuesday morning at the University of British Columbia.

With a 3W-0L-4D record, the 2013 Western Conference champions are the only remaining unbeaten side in Major League Soccer.

“It’s another great challenge for us,” Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson told reporters. “You look at the fixtures we’ve had and it’s been tricky against good teams, but we want to play against the best teams. The fans want to see us play against the best teams, the players want to play against the best teams, and that’s what we’re doing at the moment.”

As the Galaxy did over the last two matches, Real Salt Lake is another team that deploys a diamond midfield – in fact, they’re known for it. The ‘Caps started with a diamond midfield formation this past weekend, but they had most of their success in the second half with a more traditional 4-4-2.

Second-half substitutes Kekuta Manneh and Erik Hurtado looked particularly impressive on the flanks in that formation, which gives Robinson some “food for thought” this week.

“The teams that go there try to influence and disrupt their diamond,” said Robinson, adding that it will be important to find a balance between keeping possession and playing on the attack. “We’ll have a look at it this week and decide what we want to do. But as I said, it’s a about what we do. If we can limit the opposition’s chances and focus on ourselves, we can give anyone a game.”

LISTEN: Robinson speaks to media after training

News and notes

- Tuesday’s training session was composed primarily of the starters and subs from Saturday’s match. The remaining players took part in an afternoon intrasquad match against the club’s U-23 side. 

- Whitecaps FC had 436 successful passes on Saturday against the Galaxy, which is the most they’ve had a single match since joining MLS in 2011.

- Whitecaps FC defender Christian Dean is currently away with the U.S. U-21 national team in Carson, California. The camp will culminate on Wednesday with a friendly against Club Tijuana.

- Midfielder Mehdi Ballouchy, who has been training with the main group as a neutral after recovering from a torn ACL in his left knee, participated in Tuesday’s training session in full.

- Whitecaps FC goalkeeper David Ousted’s wife gave birth to twin boys on Friday morning. “He wanted to play [on Saturday],” said Robinson. “I said to all the players that I’ll be up front and honest with them, but I expect that back from them as well … I asked him to be honest, and he was and he said he had enough sleep. He’s a very resilient character, he’s very honest, and he put in a very good performance for us.”

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