Whitercaps ready for tough game against Dallas
Fredy Montero smiled and let out an exaggerated sigh.
What will it take, he was asked, for the Vancouver Whitecaps to finally end their road misery against FC Dallas?
“Oh, God,” the star striker responded. “It’s going to be a tough game. I guarantee you it’s not going to be pretty.
“We’re looking to play as hard as the game is asking for and get some points.”
For that to happen Saturday night in sweltering Frisco, Tex., where the game-time temperature is expected to be 39 C with the humidity, Montero and the Whitecaps will have to buck a trend stretching back to the franchise’s inaugural Major League Soccer campaign.
Vancouver is an anaemic 0-8-0 at Toyota Stadium in combined regular-season and playoff action since 2011, while getting outscored 16-3.
The Whitecaps are also 0-4-1 at Houston — the only point came in a scoreless draw last season — for an 0-12-1 all-time mark in the Lone Star State.
“Defensively, it’s going to take a 90-minute performance,” said goalkeeper David Ousted. “(With the heat), it’s going to take some game management of knowing when to go at them, when to take our opportunities to offensively be a threat and when to sit in.”
Dallas (9-3-7) enters the weekend first in the Western Conference, seven points up on sixth-place Vancouver (8-8-3). Both clubs have at least two games in hand on the other four teams above the post-season cutoff.
Despite the Whitecaps’ dismal history in Frisco, the clubs are 2-2-2 overall in head-tohead matchups since the start of 2015.
That includes last month’s 1-1 draw at B.C. Place Stadium.
Dallas striker Maximiliano Urruti leads his team with 11 goals, while midfielder Roland Lamah has eight.
“We know they’ve been ruthless when we’ve played them before,” said Vancouver head coach Carl Robinson. “We’ll need a little bit of everything to go and get a result, but I firmly believe we can.”
The Whitecaps will be looking to rebound from Sunday’s disappointing 2-1 home loss to the severely undermanned Portland Timbers after picking up encouraging victories against New York City FC and the Los Angeles Galaxy.
Robinson disagreed with the assertion his team sometimes plays up or down to the level of its opponent. But the Portland result and a 1-0 home defeat to last-place D.C. United give weight to the argument.
“We need to be better in certain areas,” he said. “Irrelevant of who we’re playing, I try to keep a focus on us.
“We’ve beat L.A. away, we’ve beat New York City FC at home, which is great, and then we lose to Portland at home. It happens.”
Peruvian attacking midfielder Yordy Reyna has made four straight appearances as a substitute after breaking his foot in training camp. He looks primed to make his first start since signing with Vancouver in January.
“We’ve had to be patient with Yordy,” said Robinson, whose team plays its next three on the road. “Another key addition for us to bring something different to break down a defence.”
The hope is Reyna will find chemistry with Montero, a designated player on loan from his Chinese club. The Colombian, who turned 30 on Wednesday, has six goals for Vancouver but has looked lost at times as a lone striker.