Newspaper article The Canadian Press

'It's Where We Want to Be': Vancouver Whitecaps Aiming to Stay Tops in MLS West

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

'It's Where We Want to Be': Vancouver Whitecaps Aiming to Stay Tops in MLS West

Article excerpt

Vancouver Whitecaps aiming to stay on top


VANCOUVER - The Vancouver Whitecaps like their view from the top. Now it's a matter of staying there.

The club moved into first place in Major League Soccer's Western Conference standings this week thanks to Wednesday's resounding 3-0 home win over Minnesota United in a game that was never really in doubt.

"It looks good," goalkeeper David Ousted said with a wide grin. "It's what we want. It's where we want to be."

Vancouver and Portland each sit on 44 points, but the Whitecaps have one more victory and seven games left on their schedule compared to the Timbers' five. The third-place Seattle Sounders are a point back with six matches remaining.

All three teams are in action Saturday, with Vancouver (13-9-5) hosting the Columbus Crew (13-12-4), who occupy fourth in the East, at B.C. Place Stadium, while Seattle visits FC Dallas and Portland travels to face Real Salt Lake.

The Whitecaps' methodical climb up the table started with a 3-2 victory over New York City FC on July 5 to begin a 7-2-2 run over their last 11 games.

Tied for the second-best road record in MLS, Vancouver is 8-3-3 at home and managed to avoid the usual summer swoon that has seen the club tumble down the standings in years past.

"People are going to say a lot of things about this team," said Ousted, whose Whitecaps have won three in a row and are 4-0-1 over their last five. "You're never as good as they say and you're never as bad as they say.

"We need to keep focused on what got us here."

That's been the combination of a deep squad -- Vancouver made five changes to Wednesday's lineup from last weekend's 3-2 win over Salt Lake without missing a beat -- and an ability to compartmentalize the task at hand without looking too far ahead.

The Minnesota game was a perfect example of the Whitecaps taking care of business against a team they were expected to beat. At other points in the franchise's history, that might not have been the case.

"We could have maybe been overwhelmed by the opportunity to get into first place," said defender Tim Parker. "We just know what we have the ability to conquer this year."

But while they sit first in the conference and fourth in the overall MLS standings, the Whitecaps continue to fly under the radar. …

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