VANCOUVER, BC – As we enter September and the days begin to get cooler again, the Major League Soccer (MLS) season is turning up the heat.
The ‘Caps (10W-9L-7D) move into September a point outside the playoffs and play three home matches in a row that could determine their postseason fate.
At this time last year, Vancouver found themselves in a similar position and ultimately secured a playoff spot thanks to a seven-match unbeaten run and 3W-0L-1D homestand in the month of September.
Whitecaps FC will hope for something similar this year.
A current five-match unbeaten run in MLS play has the team on 37 points going into September, but a run of home wins against Western Conference rivals San Jose Earthquakes (September 1), Seattle Sounders FC (September 15), and FC Dallas (September 23) could see the ‘Caps within touching distance of playoff soccer come the end of the month.
“When it comes down to these nitty-gritty games, your home advantage is very important so we need to make sure we’re all on the same page and we’re all going for the same goal, which is to get in the playoffs,” said head coach Carl Robinson.
This certainly is the business end of the season.
Just four points separate Real Salt Lake in fourth and the ‘Caps in eighth. Five teams, Real Salt Lake, Seattle, LA Galaxy, Portland and Vancouver, are competing for just three playoff spots.
“We’ve been very good over the last few weeks,” Robinson added. “What I need them to do is continue to do that at home. We know we’ll have over 20,000 there on the weekend, we know they’ll come to support the boys.”
Whitecaps FC will focus on their homes games but it won’t be easy. San Jose will look for revenge after the ‘Caps epic 3-2 comeback in Silicon Valley last Saturday, Seattle have won a franchise record seven in a row, while Dallas currently sit on top of the West.
“[This home stretch] is very important,” said Whitecaps FC defender Aaron Maund. “We pride ourselves on our home performances. We’re doing well and I think it’s in our hands.”
Tough away fixtures at LA Galaxy, Toronto FC and LAFC follow Vancouver’s homestand and each will pose stern tests for the ‘Caps as the battle ensues to make the postseason. And with eight games remaining, every point is pivotal to ensure qualification for the playoffs for a second year running and the fourth time in the last five years.
The ‘Caps are back in action on Saturday when they meet the Quakes again at BC Place. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. PT (TV: TSN 1/4, RADIO: TSN 1040, TICKETS: whitecapsfc.com/tickets).