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Vancouver Whitecaps forward Fredy Montero talks to his team before a game against Minnesota United at Allianz Field on July 27, 2019.Brad Rempel/USA TODAY Sports via Reuters

Coach Marc Dos Santos says his Vancouver Whitecaps have finally regained their identity as a committed squad after slogging through a dismal losing skid.

The ‘Caps (4-11-9) went into last week’s matchup with Minnesota United having lost five Major League Soccer games in a row. The team had also been ousted from the Canadian Championship by Calgary’s Calvary FC, who play in the first-year Canadian Premier League, just days earlier.

Dos Santos said the slump bothered him a lot because his players hadn’t been playing together as a single unit.

“That hurt me because I feel that we’ve shown what a team is. And then for some reason that disappeared,” he said after training this week.

But the coach said that changed last Saturday, when Vancouver fought the Loons to a scoreless draw, collecting the club’s first MLS point since June 26.

Now the Whitecaps are looking at the Minnesota game as a possible turning point and hoping it provides renewed confidence as they attempt to salvage what’s left of the year.

“We have to look like the team that played Minnesota until the end of the season,” Dos Santos said. “That’s what we want to see. If that’s going to put us in the playoffs or not, we’ll see at the end of the season. But our focus has to be on keep on growing as a team with the elements that we have here and not think about the external.”

The team’s next test comes on Saturday, when the Whitecaps face FC Cincinnati (5-16-2) for the first time.

The expansion club has struggled in its inaugural season and is currently on a three-game losing streak after dropping a 2-1 decision to Toronto FC last week.

But the Whitecaps aren’t underestimating their opponents, goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau said.

“Cincinnati have good players. They’re at the bottom of the East [standings], but it means nothing in this league,” he said.

“Every game there’s points up for grabs. And that’s our mindset right now, to get the most points out of it and to finish the season on a good note and build a rhythm here.”

The difference in Minnesota was simple, Crepeau said.

“We were just more committed, more locked in, more focused, less defensive mistakes mentally,” said the goalkeeper, who made a single save to earn the clean sheet. “We were all on the same page. I was accountable for my teammates and vice versa.”

The Whitecaps also played with more aggressiveness in Minnesota, pressing and getting higher up the field, midfielder Felipe Martins said.

Maintaining that style of play will be important for the ‘Caps this weekend as they go up against their former captain, Kendall Waston, in Ohio.

The fullback spent five seasons in Vancouver before publicly voicing his desire for a move at the end of last season. He was traded to Cincinnati for cash in December.

“[Waston] was a big part of this club but he moved on and we moved on,” Martins said. “That’s in the past. We respect everything he did for the club. We respect him as a person and as a player but it’s about us, it’s about Vancouver against Cincinnati. And that’s how we’re going to approach it.”

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