Whitecaps embracing life on the road
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The Vancouver Whitecaps are embracing road life, on and off the field.
Vancouver beat the New York Red Bulls 2-1 last weekend for a club-record fifth road win this season. The Whitecaps opted to remain on the East Coast to practise and bond ahead of Saturday's game against the New England Revolution.
Nomads for a five-match, six-week stretch while the Women's World Cup takes over B.C. Place Stadium, the Whitecaps are making the most of a difficult situation.
"We're just using it as a positive in that we get to spend time with each other," said head coach Carl Robinson, whose team took in a baseball game in New York this week. "Everyone's not going to be best friends, but it's important that you treat each other with respect and you get along.
"Any successful team needs to get along."
That hasn't been a problem so far in 2015 for Vancouver (9-6-2). The club is second in Major League Soccer's Western Conference and has won three of its last four outings, including two straight on the road sandwiched around a bye week.
The Whitecaps picked up their first-ever victory in Los Angeles over Galaxy at the start of the month. They downed the Red Bulls last weekend thanks in large part to two penalty saves from David Ousted, who battled through an illness to help secure the three points.
"He wanted to play. I gave him not choice (but) to play really if I'm being honest," said Robinson. "I said I needed him and he had to play and I'm glad he did play because he was outstanding."
The Whitecaps will make a least two changes this week with defender Kendall Waston and midfielder Gershon Koffie suspended. But they could have captain Pedro Morales back after he missed out against New York because of injury.
Robinson likes to boast about his squad's depth. That talent will again be put to the test with midfielder Deybi Flores and defender Tim Parker possibly coming in as replacements.
"We've lost a couple guys through illness (last) weekend, we've lost a couple of players this weekend through suspension," said Robinson. "The guys coming into the team now have something to prove and I want them to prove something."
New England (6-6-6) is second in the congested Eastern Conference but just 1-4-4 over its last nine. The club is coming off a 2-1 road loss to the Columbus Crew on Wednesday.
Charlie Davies leads the Revolution with seven goals and is joined by Juan Agudelo and Teal Bunbury on the second-highest scoring team in MLS. But despite its struggles, New England remains undefeated at home (4-0-5).
"It's huge for us. We've already dropped some points this year at home drawing games," New England goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth told the club's official website. "We need to get back to collecting three points at home and turning that place into a fortress."
That challenge won't trouble the Whitecaps, who have a loss and two ties in three all-time visits to Foxborough, Mass. But Vancouver has thumbed its collective nose at history a few times this season.
"If we're organized and disciplined as we know we can be then we'll get our opportunities," said Robinson. "We're very confident we can go in there and a get a result because we've shown we can. We just need to keep ticking along."
Notes: Whitecaps defender Jordan Harvey's next appearance will be his 200th in MLS. ... Vancouver concludes its season-high five-game road trip July 4 against the Colorado Rapids. The Whitecaps return home July 12 against Sporting Kansas City.
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