Just because a team is having a better regular season doesn’t mean that will carry over to cup play.
That’s the idea head coach Martin Rennie is placing in his players’ heads ahead of Wednesday’s first leg of the Amway Canadian Championship final against the Montreal Impact (4:30 p.m. PT, Sportsnet ONE, TEAM 1410, teamradio.ca), who have started strongly in MLS with a record of 6W-2L-2D.
Whitecaps FC are having a middling season with a record of 3W-4L-3D, but are coming off the back of a upset 3-1 win over defending MLS Cup champion LA Galaxy this past Saturday.
“We need to play our best, we need to be hard to play against and we need to take our chances when they come along,” Rennie said. “They’re a solid team, they’re a dangerous team, and we look forward to it.”
Rennie has repeatedly emphasized the importance of the Canadian Championship, even telling reporters that he rested several players rather than play them in an MLS match away to FC Dallas so he could have them fresh for playing FC Edmonton in the first leg of this competition’s semifinal.
“The next step for us as a club is to win something,” Rennie said on Tuesday in Montreal. “The first step for was to be a playoff team, which we did [in 2012] and obviously we need to continue to do, but winning something would be a big step for us and it would give us a chance to play in the CONCACAF Champions League.
“It’s very important to the club, to the players, and to the coaches – and also to the fans. We know it means a lot to the fans, so we’re very focused on this game and we know it’s over two legs and we need to make sure we do well [in the first leg].”
The Canadian Championship has been a bit of a bogey competition for the ‘Caps, who’ve finished runners-up four years running now, to Toronto FC each time.
If Vancouver can finally end the jinx in this competition, it would be something to relish for players who have endured those agonizing final defeats in recent times, such as fullback Alain Rochat, who was along for the ride the last two occasions.
“We want to be the best in Canada and this is the only way to show it,” Rochat said. “We missed this opportunity the last two years – we went every time in the final, but we didn’t take the chance. So I hope the third time will be the good one.”