Whitecaps host Sporting KC with playoff aspirations
Vancouver hoping to turn draws into wins
Carl Robinson needs a little bit extra from the Vancouver Whitecaps.
The rookie head coach has watched his team earn points in seven of its last Major League Soccer games but with just one win over that span Vancouver has tumbled out of a Western Conference playoff position.
While he hasn't had any complaints about the Whitecaps' effort, Robinson will be looking for another gear when defending-champion Sporting Kansas City visits B.C. Place Stadium on Sunday (8 p.m. ET).
"I think that's a daily thing. I think you've always got to give more," said the Welshman. "The day you think that you've done it or you stop giving more will be in the day that you're in the wrong sport. We'll continue to work hard, whatever the results."
The Whitecaps rocketed out of the gate to start the season thanks to an attack-minded and free-flowing system that had them scoring plenty of goals.
But for all the good vibes early on, the last two months have seen Vancouver (6-4-11) pick up just a single victory to go along with four straight ties, including an dreary 0-0 road draw against the Chicago Fire on July 30.
"We're very close to turning those draws into wins, but also we're very close to having them taken away from us and [turned] into losses," said Robinson. "We're not getting carried away, we're not losing many games, but I want to win more games."
We're very close to turning those draws into wins, but also we're very close to having them taken away from us and [turned] into losses. We're not getting carried away, we're not losing many games, but I want to win more games.- Whitecaps coach Carl Robinson
The Whitecaps were tied for the fewest losses in MLS heading into the weekend, but their 11 draws include games they really should've won going away if even one of a number of golden opportunities had been converted.
"We've missed chances, and in football it's all about taking your chances. That's why the big guys are paid the big bucks, because they're able to take those chances," said Robinson. "We've got ourselves in good positions but we haven't been able to take them. We'll continue to work at it.
"Hopefully we can maybe get one in off a backside that might help us get flowing again."
The killer instinct Vancouver showed early in the season has dried up since the beginning of June with just six goals in the last eight games — including a 30-shot performance in a 2-2 draw against FC Dallas on July 27 — and is in direct correlation with the club's current 1-2-6 run.
"When we've had the other team by the neck and playing well and creating a lot of chances, we need to put the games away scoring those goals," said Whitecaps goalkeeper David Ousted. "That's what's going to kill the other teams.
"I feel like our offensive play has been brilliant at times and when we're playing like that we definitely need to put the chances away so we capitalize on our good periods."
At the other end of the pitch, the Whitecaps have struggled to keep the ball out of their net at times thanks in large part to mental lapses at key moments.
'A little frustrated'
"I think we've been giving up some goals here and there that are our fault," said defender Jordan Harvey. "Once we clean that up I think we'll get the three points because we've been creating a lot of chances at home and playing really well.
"We are a little frustrated with all the ties."
Kansas City (11-5-6) entered the weekend tops in the Eastern Conference and has not lost in MLS play since May 31, a stretch of eight games (6-0-2).
Sporting had four players take part in Wednesday's MLS all-star game against German powerhouse Bayern Munich, including defenders Aurelien Collin and Matt Besler, midfielder Graham Zusi and striker Dom Dwyer, who has 14 goals this season.
The Whitecaps, meanwhile, didn't have any of their players involved in the showcase game in Portland, Ore., which seemed to suit them just fine as they look to pick up three points for the first time since a 1-0 victory over the Seattle Sounders on July 5.
"We've had a lot of draws, too many draws for my liking, and not enough wins," said Robinson. "It shows how close we are, but we just can't get over that line. Sunday's a big game for us."
He's hopeful a good result in that big game will also give the Whitecaps the confidence moving forward as they look to climb back up the standings
"It's a good test for this young group," Robinson said. "I think if we can give them a good game and show what we're capable of — like we have most home games this year — we're in with a chance.
"If we do that do that hopefully we get better luck and get a victory."