In their first training session back after Saturday's flat 1-0 defeat to a reserve-laden Real Salt Lake side, Vancouver Whitecaps FC insisted on Tuesday that consistency, and not a lack of character, is their main issue.
With four games left to go and four points still standing between them and the fifth and final Western Conference playoff spot, currently occupied by Colorado Rapids, putting together a string of results in each of those games is the only way the team will squeak into the postseason.
The last two games have been difficult to comprehend for many who follow the team. A battling 3-0 win over Montreal Impact at Stade Saputo and then a lifeless performance to against a Salt Lake team resting many of its regulars on the following weekend naturally have people asking: Does this team have the personality to find a way into the playoffs?
“I think so, because we've shown that at times throughout the season,” center back Jay DeMerit said following a training session at the University of British Columbia. “But again, it's the consistency in performances that really matters. Guys can show up on certain days and give a nine-out-of-10 performance, but it doesn't really mean anything when the next time they give a three-out-of-10 performance.
“Everyone has proved this season that they can do a nine-out-of-10 performance, now it's just about all of us doing it at the same time.”
With the match now in the past, the 'Caps are now looking to move forward as they have an important battle against rivals Portland Timbers on Sunday.
“It's disappointing, it's inconsistent but I don't question the character or the style of play or the way we're doing things, it's just we've had a bad result,” head coach Martin Rennie told reporters. “I think the week before we had a great result. So you don't start saying well we must change everything, we must get rid of everybody, nobody's good enough, the character's not there.
“You have to say, well, we had a bad day, and the other team also had a very good day, and when that happens you have to accept that and move on.”
Martin MacMahon covers Vancouver Whitecaps FC for MLSsoccer.com