A loss to the Seattle Sounders aside, the Vancouver Whitecaps have quietly climbed to the top of the standings.
Vancouver finished outside of the Major League Soccer postseason last year, but thanks to three wins in four recent home matches they lead the Western Conference, a point ahead of the Sounders, Portland Timbers and Sporting Kansas City.
As far as they’re concerned, it’s good to be sneaking up on the unsuspecting opposition.
“For me that’s fine, it’s very good. We don’t need attention,” midfielder Aly Ghazal said. “We come from nowhere, don’t give us attention, just the other teams. But at the end, let’s see who’s going to laugh.”
Going into Wednesday night’s match against the MLS Cup defending champion Sounders, the Whitecaps had gone undefeated in their last seven matches. But Seattle won the game at home 3-0 — meaning that Vancouver will have to wait to clinch a playoff spot.
After the game coach Carl Robinson reminded the team they were still atop the standings with four games to go.
“They deserve a lot of credit,” Robinson said about his team. “But we’ve got to keep fighting, we’ve got to keep growing, working hard and doing the details. Because when you play the top teams, the details are the most important things.”
The Whitecaps hadn’t gotten much hype this season, but they are loaded with depth. Picking up former Sounder Fredy Montero at the start of the season boosted the team, and he leads all scorers with 13 goals. Midfielder Christian Bolanos has seven assists.
Vancouver has fared well on the road, going 5-7-2. That bodes well for a team who was headed to Kansas City following the Seattle match.
Since joining the league in 2011, Vancouver has made the playoffs three times. The team’s best finish was an appearance in the conference semifinals in 2015.
Vancouver may represent Canada in the postseason alongside Toronto, which tops the standings in the East by a considerable margin and already claimed a playoff spot.
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