Can a win before a two-week break still provide some momentum? Vancouver Whitecaps FC think so, as they prepare for an away match against New York Red Bulls on Saturday (4:30 p.m. PT; watch live on Sportsnet Pacific, listen live on TEAM 1040 radio, or watch live on your Bell mobile device).
“[The break] might actually help,” winger Shea Salinas told MLSsoccer.com after training on Thursday. “We got a little rest, and everyone was playing with a lot more confidence in training sessions, so we’re glad to go into New York. We know it’s a tough game, especially with the travel and the time difference, but we’re excited to go there after a win.”
The Texan scored a late goal on August 28 against Houston Dynamo to provide the ‘Caps their fourth victory of the year, and he’s hoping to build on that at Red Bull Arena.
“I’ve played well in the last few training sessions,” Salinas said. “I’ve scored a few goals, so hopefully I can keep that going, and if I get my chance in New York, hopefully put it away.”
While injuries have hurt Whitecaps FC in key positions at important times, a recurring complaint from head coach Tom Soehn has been the team’s inability to keep focus at crucial moments and maintain a winning mentality. Soehn has seen how a win can change that attitude during practice sessions.
“You see it in training, the confidence that you get after a result, and the belief,” Soehn explained. “With this group, it’s about the belief that we can do, and we need to carry that into this weekend.”
But despite the break the ‘Caps had, their opponents have had an even longer break. The Red Bulls last played on August 20 in a 2-2 draw with New England Revolution.
“New York’s a quality team,” Peter Vagenas said. “They’ve been off now for a while ... so, they’re going to be a champing at the bit to get after us, and they’re a bit of desperate team as well. They need three points, especially at home. This is going to be a big challenge for this group.
“They’re a senior team, but we’ve got a good game plan. We need to remain disciplined and maybe we can catch them when they send a lot of guys forward.”
Martin MacMahon covers Vancouver Whitecaps FC for MLSsoccer.com.