VANCOUVER, BC – How will Vancouver Whitecaps FC fare on the road under new head coach Carl Robinson?
The 'Caps didn't have an away win at all in their inaugural 2011 season, and in their previous two seasons they picked up a record of 7W-19L-8D on their MLS travels.
As the club goes into Sunday's match against Chivas USA – the first road match of the campaign – the word from Robinson is that his team will attempt to play the same pass-and-move, ball-on-the-deck style that worked to devastating effect against New York Red Bulls in a 4-1 win at BC Place on opening day.
The promise of an attacking approach away from home is a common refrain from coaches, but how it plays out can often be a different story. However, there is a sense that Robinson will at least tell his players to be a bit more cavalier in their approach than they have been in years past.
Preview: Chivas USA vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC
“In Major League Soccer, it's difficult away from home,” Robinson told reporters after a training session at the University of British Columbia on Thursday. “You can say that certain teams struggle more than others, but you have to set targets on the road."
“Do you go out with a mindset not get beat on the road, or do you go out with a mindset to try and win? If you go out not to get beat and you judge it over two or three games, and you draw twice and lose once, whereas if you go and try and win three games, and you win one, that's still one more point than you'd get if you were conservative."
“Each manager's different. I know you keep your winning records intact and unbeaten records and that lot – but at the end of the day, it's about points. We have to find a way to get points on the road. That's it. Points. It's not about wins or draws, it's about points. Whatever we think's the right way to do, we'll do it, and we get our first chance on Sunday.”
Still, while Robinson was happy to indicate his attacking intentions, centre back Jay DeMerit was a bit more restrained in making any promises about overly aggressive offence on the road.
“We have to make sure that on the road – it's a different beast,” the captain told reporters Thursday. “You have to make sure that you lock the door at the back, and play off good defending. Every time you go away from home it presents a different challenge.
“Home teams are always going to be a bit brighter, so we got to make sure we compete first and foremost, and then we can put our own stamp on the game.”
Martin MacMahon covers Vancouver Whitecaps FC for MLSsoccer.com.