Playoff pressure is building for the Vancouver Whitecaps as September comes to an end.
With just 10 games to go in the Major League Soccer’s regular season, the ‘Caps (7-8-9) sit four points out of the post-season picture. The next chance to move up the Western Conference standings comes Saturday when Vancouver plays host to FC Dallas (6-11-9), and the club knows how crucial it is to collect a positive result.
“It’s definitely getting to the stage where we need to be taking points from games. Because the closer it gets to the end, the more we’re going to need the points to make sure we’re in the playoffs,” said attacking midfielder Ryan Gauld. “So there’s definitely an importance on the set of three games that’s coming up this week.”
The ‘Caps have already faced Dallas once this season, battling the Toros to a 2-2 draw in Texas on July 4.
But the visitors have struggled lately and come to the West Coast with a single victory in their past eight outings (1-3-4).
Dallas fired head coach Luchi Gonzalez on Sunday after a 3-2 loss to the Houston Dynamo. Marco Ferruzzi, the club’s director of soccer operations, was named interim head coach.
The situation is one Vancouver’s Vanni Sartini knows well – he was installed as Vancouver’s interim head coach on Aug. 27 after the ‘Caps turfed Marc Dos Santos.
There may be a new boss behind the bench, but Dallas has long had a clear philosophy, Sartini said.
“What I expect is a possession-based team with a lot of quality,” he said.
Dallas has a young weapon in 18-year-old striker Ricardo Pepi. The homegrown player has 12 goals and three assists this season and was called up to the U.S. national team earlier this year. He also played in the MLS all-star game last month, scoring the game winner on a penalty shot.
The ‘Caps continue to struggle with injuries across the back line. Three defenders are expected to miss Saturday’s matchup with various ailments.