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The Vancouver Whitecaps are once again searching for answers after yet another frustrating result.
For the third time this season, the 'Caps (2-6-3) dropped points in injury time on Sunday, conceding a goal to FC Dallas and settling for a 2-2 draw.
“We can look at the results, we’re away from home, we’re getting a point. But also we’re frustrated because we know we could get the full three in some of those instances," said striker Brian White. "We’re not losing the game, but we’re not winning, so there’s frustration there, of course.”
Vancouver is mired in a seven-game winless drought, with its last victory — a 2-0 decision over CF Montreal — coming back on May 8. The club lingers at the bottom of the Western Conference standings with nine points.
The Whitecaps will look to turn the season around on Wednesday when they face Real Salt Lake (3-3-4).
It will be the second matchup of the year between two sides that are sharing a "home" stadium in Sandy, Utah, as pandemic-related border closures keep the 'Caps from living and training in Vancouver.
Last time out, the score was knotted at 1-1 at the end of regulation but two lethal strikes in stoppage time gave Salt Lake a 3-1 victory.
Injury time has since become a sore spot for the Whitecaps with the squad conceding five goals in the extra minutes this year, including the equalizer in Sunday's matchup with Dallas.
“We have to be better. We have to better when injury time comes because it’s been three times now (we've dropped points)," head coach Marc Dos Santos said Tuesday. "And we were very hard on ourselves about that. But we can’t allow that to scare us.”
The group has hurt itself late in games, he added, letting up on the pressure in favour of defending and making the wrong decisions.
“Sometimes we want to win too much or we want the point too much that we become a team that is afraid of losing," Dos Santos said. "So now we’re defending everything in our box and we’re giving territory to the opponent.”
Vancouver knows what will happen if they're up heading into injury time on Wednesday, the coach said. They know Salt Lake will send throw-ins into the box. They know their opponents will be looking for Damir Kreilach, the attacking midfielder who had a brace against the 'Caps on June 18.
"We know it’s coming. And we have to be ready for it and make sure we make the plays we have to make," Dos Santos said.
The Whitecaps will be without two of their biggest stars when they take on Real Salt Lake, however, with striker Lucas Cavallini and 'keeper Maxime Crepeau both called up to the Canadian national team for the Gold Cup.
Cavallini is second on the 'Caps in scoring with three goals (behind Cristian Dajome's four) and Crepeau has played all 11 games this year, earning two clean sheets.
“This is where a guy like Brian (White) or Theo Bair are going to have a huge opportunity to replace (Cavallini), a guy that was in a good form for us. Evan (Newton) and Thomas (Hasal) are going to have a great opportunity to replace Max, who has been very steady for us," Dos Santos said. "That’s their opportunity to answer that they deserve to also play in this team.”
It's an opportunity White relishes.
The 25-year-old American came to the Whitecaps last month via a trade with the New York Red Bulls. He scored in his club debut against Salt Lake but is looking to solidify a spot in the lineup.
“Any time you get a chance on the field, you want to grab it with both hands and not let it go," he said. "I’m looking forward to getting out there again, getting a start and just doing everything I can to just help the team win, whether it’s defensive, whether it’s scoring goals, making it hard on defenders, putting the team in a good position to get the full three points.”
REAL SALT LAKE (3-3-4) AT VANCOUVER WHITECAPS (2-6-3)
Wednesday, Rio Tinto Stadium
INJURY LIST: The Whitecaps will be without midfielder Michael Baldisimo (right ankle sprain), fullback Bruno Gaspar (left ankle sprain) and forward Tosaint Ricketts (Achilles tendinopathy).
DRAW DROUGHT: None of the last 15 games between Vancouver and Salt Lake has ended in a tie.
HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE: The 'Caps haven't played at B.C. Place this season, but the club has managed solid results at its temporary home in Sandy, Utah. The Whitecaps have a 2-2-0 record as the home side this year.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 6, 2021.
Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press