Win at any cost. Win ugly. That’s the message veteran midfielder Peter Vagenas is trying to get across to many of his younger Vancouver Whitecaps FC teammates ahead of Saturday’s match against D.C. United at RFK Stadium (4:30 p.m. PT on Rogers Sportsnet Pacific, West, and East; Bell mobile devices; Pre-game at 4 p.m. PT on Rogers Sportsnet Pacific and West; TEAM 1040 radio and teamradio.ca; MLS MatchDay Live).
“Hopefully, we can build off last week,” Vagenas told MLSsoccer.com after training earlier this week, referencing his team’s 4-2 win over Chicago Fire last weekend. “We need to win on Saturday. If you win, things will get better, and right now this team needs to find ways to win games.”
Vagenas knows all about competing and grinding out results. As a member of the LA Galaxy, he won two Lamar Hunt US Open Cups and a pair of MLS Cups, and captained the Galaxy to the double in 2005.
Since joining Whitecaps FC, he’s shown his toughness as well, most notably when Whitecaps FC picked up a 2-2 draw against the San Jose Earthquakes on July 20. The Pasadena, California, native received an elbow to the face in that match which dislodged a tooth, but he played through the pain to complete 90 minutes of action.
“I said it after the [win against the Fire] - I don’t think it was necessarily our best game in terms of aesthetics and playing football, but at the same time, we won,” Vagenas said. “Playing well is important, but this team needs to learn how to win, and I think that’s something we’re still trying to figure out.”
Though D.C. United head coach Ben Olsen won’t be on the sideline on Saturday while he serves a one-game suspension, this weekend’s match-up pits Vagenas against his former teammate from the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia.
“As I’m getting up there in age, I seem to know coaches more than players,” Vagenas said. “[Olsen] is someone I’ve played with for a long time and have the utmost respect for. I can assure you his team is going to give an honest effort - they’re a workmanlike team.
“We’re going to have our hands full,” he added. “It’s important that we don’t get comfortable after a win because we haven’t really done anything and we need to go out there and live on the edge and translate that into momentum.”
• Left fullback Alain Rochat did not travel with the team following an adductor injury suffered against the Chicago Fire last weekend.
• Captain Jay DeMerit completed 45 minutes of a 2-1 MLS Reserve League victory over Seattle Sounders FC reserves on Tuesday. He travelled with the team to D.C. in the hopes of making his first competitive appearance since Vancouver’s 2-1defeat to Toronto FC in the Nutrilite Canadian Championship final, second leg, on July 2.
Martin MacMahon covers Vancouver Whitecaps FC for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on Twitter: @martinmacmahon