Struggling Vancouver Whitecaps face test of character against D.C. United

When questioned, Kekuta Manneh couldn't recall a time when he or a club that he's played for has gone through such a slump, like the one the Vancouver Whitecaps are mired in.

The Whitecaps have been shut out in three straight games. They've recorded one of a maximum nine points in that span. They've scored in only two of the last six games. They have only two wins since the start of July and have since slipped into sixth in the Western Conference, one point out of the final Western Conference playoff spot, currently occupied by rival Portland.

That sums it up on a team level.

On an individual scale, the 19-year-old speedy and shifty Manneh hasn't scored an MLS regular season goal since May 3.

"It's been a learning experience for me as well and most of the guys on the team, too," he said Thursday.

"We've got to stay together as a team and as a family and try to figure out a way to break that."

Since this summer swoon began following the World Cup break, more and more questions are being asked about the local club's group of young forwards, which includes the likes of Darren Mattocks and Erik Hurtado.

The club can still try to land a more experienced and established striker before the roster freeze on Sept. 15.

But, based on what coach Carl Robinson and president Bob Lenarduzzi have said this week, it appears that might be out of the question, especially if any such move would disrupt Vancouver's core group of young players and the club's long-term plans.

Lately, the formations Robinson uses, often a 4-2-3-1 with one lone man up front, have been called into question.

While Robinson and Lenarduzzi have hinted at change in formation, and how different players are utilized, the club's next match -- against D.C. United at BC Place on Saturday -- is a test of mettle.

Can these young players shake off their slumps and struggles in yet another important match on home turf?

"I think we play better against the better teams in the league, so (it's) a good chance for us to show that we're ready to bounce back," said goalkeeper David Ousted.

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