There is no doubting the quality in the Vancouver Whitecaps FC squad this season. A glance at the Western Conference standings -- Vancouver are tied with Seattle atop the conference -- says it all.
When the 'Caps players are in their stride, they can be a match for any side in Major League Soccer, but that's not always been the case in 2015.
Vancouver pulled off a complete team performance to dismantle the defending champions LA Galaxy 2-0 at BC Place back on April 4 and it made people around the league sit up and take notice. But what followed was an inconsistent stretch of 10 games that saw the 'Caps take only three wins and 11 points.
<a href="//www.whitecapsfc.com/video/2015/06/06/carl-robinson-june-6" target="_blank"><img alt="" src="https://vancouver-mp7static.mlsdigital.net/mp6/interview_robinson_w.png" style="width: 140px; height: 60px; "></a><a href="//www.whitecapsfc.com/video/2015/06/06/kekuta-manneh-june-6" target="_blank"><img alt="" src="https://vancouver-mp7static.mlsdigital.net/mp6/interview_manneh_b.png" style="width: 140px; height: 60px; "></a><a href="//www.whitecapsfc.com/video/2015/06/06/mauro-rosales-june-6" target="_blank"><img alt="" src="https://vancouver-mp7static.mlsdigital.net/mp6/interview_rosales_b.png" style="width: 140px; height: 60px;"></a>
The Blue and White bookended that stretch on Saturday night with another complete team performance against LA, a 1-0 victory that saw Whitecaps FC record their first-ever win at the StubHub Center.
"They deserve a pat on the back," head coach Carl Robinson told Vancouver's TSN 1410 radio after the match. "After a very difficult week, a long travelling week, we managed to get the result that we wanted, which we thoroughly deserved. I want them to start believing because I believe in them. I believe in every single one of them and if we do, then we can compete with the better teams. We just need to be more consistent."
Kekuta Manneh provided the decisive moment in the game, as he did back in April, scoring the match-winning goal in the 32nd minute.
The strike capped off a strong performance from the young Gambian, both in attack and defence, and showed once again that he's a player that gets fired up for the big matches. But Robinson takes the team outlook.
<b>Highlights from Saturday's 1-0 win at the StubHub Center</b>
"I think it will do the world of good for his confidence," Robinson said of Manneh's performance. "He was just one of a number of players who performed admirably. Today it was Kekuta's day but it was a team effort. One player's not going to beat LA Galaxy on their own. It has to be your whole squad and they thoroughly deserved that."
The victory at StubHub Center, the first away win against the LA Galaxy, came at a perfect time for Vancouver, having lost three out of their previous four matches. Psychologically, they now enter a bye week with a spring in their step instead of having days of soul searching, but it's how they return from their rest that will shape the remainder of their season.
"It's important that we keep a perspective on this," Robinson said of Vancouver's historic win. "We'll keep our feet on the ground. I don't get too excited when we get a really, really good result and I don't get too beat up when we don't get a very good result. What's important to me is performance."
"Over the first period of this season, our performance levels have been pretty high for three quarters of the time," Robinson added. "When we come back, I've got to make sure that we can kick on again because the quality and belief in the squad, if it continues to improve on a daily basis, on a weekly basis, then we'll hopefully get to where we want to get to."
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