VANCOUVER, BC – As Vancouver Whitecaps FC prepare to host Real Salt Lake Saturday at BC Place amid their push to climb back up the table and into a playoff position, defence will remain a priority.
The club has done well in that regard of late, posting back-to-back clean sheets – first a scoreless draw with San Jose Earthquakes and then again last weekend with a 3-0 victory over Montreal Impact at Stade Supoto.
Those shutouts were the first in over two months, and now that the 'Caps are finding that solidity at the back, the aim is to keep that run going.
“We've got 11 guys getting behind the ball and working for each other,” captain Jay DeMerit told reporters at BC Place on Thursday of the back-to-back clean sheets. “The second is organization. Making sure guys are in the right spots. The third thing is making sure guys are covering for each other.
“Having each other's backs at the right times to make key blocks, or staying with key runners. All those things really have to apply to keep a team scoreless.”
The club's manager is of the same mindset, although stressed his team won't go for an overly defensive approach.
“Any good result is based on good defending first and foremost,” head coach Martin Rennie said Thursday. “If you don't defend right, you're always going to be under pressure. I think it's important that we start the game well and that we defend well throughout the game.”
“At the same time, we need to make sure that we attack well and take our chances.”
How Vancouver's attack will look this weekend is still a topic of some debate, but changes are possible.
Designated Player Kenny Miller is battling a groin problem and even if he is fit to start, he may not have a full 90 minutes in him.
Camilo's late brace last weekend could force a change even if Miller is healthy.
Tommy Heinemann, who played an effective battering ram role up front against Montreal, is ready if called upon to lead the line once again.
“This is a group that's just coming together, a group that's growing in confidence,” Heinemann said. “I think we're starting to put the pieces together and come together as a unit, and I think that's showing up on the field.”
Martin MacMahon covers Vancouver Whitecaps FC for MLSsoccer.com.