The Vancouver Whitecaps want to make sure their trip to Honduras next month is only for pleasure.
The club visits the Seattle Sounders on Wednesday in CONCACAF Champions League action and can wrap up first place in Group F with a victory.
A win for the Sounders (1-1-1) at CenturyLink Field would give Seattle top spot, while a draw means the team to go through to the competition’s quarter-finals would have to be decided when Vancouver (1-0-1) travels to take on C.D. Olympia (1-2-0) in Tegucigalpa on Oct. 22.
The Whitecaps would like nothing more than to render that match meaningless with a victory against their Major League Soccer rivals.
“Make no doubt about it, that game in Honduras will be tough,” said Vancouver head coach Carl Robinson. “It’s a little carrot for us this Wednesday (against Seattle) if we can go and get a result. We know it’s going to be difficult. They’re a good team. They’ve got a good, strong squad.”
The Whitecaps saw that first-hand on Saturday when the Sounders beat them 3-0 at B.C. Place Stadium in a game Vancouver could easily have led 3-0 at halftime after blowing a number of opportunities in front of goal.
“There’s always concerns whichever way you look at it after a game,” said Robinson. “We’re getting chances. We had gilt-edged chances on Saturday and we didn’t take them. We’ll take responsibility for that.
“I won’t get too beat up about it because we played very well.”
The Whitecaps defeated Olimpia 1-0 last Wednesday at home with a mix of youth and experience, and Vancouver is likely to deploy a similar lineup against the Sounders as it looks for a measure revenge after a disappointing weekend.
“You have to give credit where credit is due. I thought Seattle came in on Saturday and played a very good game,” said veteran Whitecaps forward Robert Earnshaw. “They competed very, very well. They had a lot of energy, and I think it was about quality.
“We were just disappointed in the result rather than the performance.”
Vancouver midfielder Matias Laba — who was suspended for the last two MLS games — played against Olimpia and should start against the Sounders along with Earnshaw as Robinson continues to rotate his squad with an eye on the league, where the Whitecaps sit tied atop the overall standings.
“(Laba) does exactly what it says on the tin. He wins the ball, he gives it,” said Robinson. “He’s so important to us and we have missed him (in MLS).”
The coach did say that rookie defender Tim Parker will play and added that striker Darren Mattocks is also available after missing out last game with a rib injury.
Seattle and Vancouver have met four times this season, with the visiting team winning all three MLS games, while the first Champions League match ended 1-1 at B.C. Place in August.
“We want to go there and try and win,” said Robinson. “We know that we play well at their place.”
Note: The MLS disciplinary committee fined Whitecaps defender Kendall Waston an undisclosed amount on Tuesday for violating the league’s policy regarding hands to the face/head/neck of an opponent. The incident involving Sounders striker Clint Dempsey occurred late in Saturday’s match.
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Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press