SEATTLE, WA - Vancouver Whitecaps FC's inaugural CONCACAF Champions League campaign came to a crashing halt at CenturyLink Field on Wednesday evening.
The 'Caps headed into the game knowing that any result other than a Seattle Sounders FC win would keep their qualification hopes alive. Two goals down to a rampant Sounders by halftime and Vancouver's dreams were basically over, ending up on the wrong end of a 3-0 scoreline.
It was a disappointing end to Whitecaps FC's first foray into international football and they are now left with a meaningless trip to Olimpia in October.
"In any competition we have we have aspirations to do well," Robinson told reporters after the game. "Three games and we're out. Tonight hasn't cost us really. The home game where we conceded against Seattle, where they got a point at our place, is probably part of the reason why we're out."
"Three difficult teams in the group, including ourselves, and we knew it would probably be down to winning your home games," he continued. "We didn't take care of business at home, even though we remained undefeated. Seattle did, so credit to them for taking advantage."
Seattle went with a strong lineup for the latest clash between the Cascadian rivals, fielding four starters from Saturday's 3-0 win over Vancouver in MLS action. The 'Caps went with one starter from that loss, with Robinson continuing to go with a young side in this year's Cup competitions.
With a big MLS game against New York City coming up for Whitecaps FC this weekend, the 'Caps coach has no regrets about his team selection, although he did admit to weighing up playing more starters.
"I toyed with the idea up until this morning to be honest," Robinson said. "We're a little bit banged up. I couldn't afford to take the risk. We are down to the bare bones. If I could have, maybe I would have, but I couldn't, so I didn't. It's about rotating your squad. We've got five big MLS games coming up. Are we ready to deal with the Champions League as well? Probably not."
Despite being eliminated after three group games, Robinson sees this year's first appearance in the tournament as a valuable learning tool for the club.
"It's difficult," Robinson said of what he's learned about the tournament this year. "Hopefully we get an easier group, that would be nice, or a slightly different group. It was always called the 'Group of Death', we knew that. [Seattle] are probably more set than us in their development of their organization to have a go at the Champions League and I said that all along."
But with a spot in next season's Champions League campaign already confirmed by way of their Canadian Championship win in August, the 'Caps coach also views this year's appearance as key development for his players' future success in the competition.
"It'll do them the world of good," Robinson feels. "The amount of learning that they will do. In the short term, it might hurt, because you lose in front of 30,000, but in the long term they'll get massive benefit out of it. It's over a period of time ... we'll be better prepared next year."
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