Vancouver Whitecaps boss Vanni Sartini has called for his in-form team to remain focused as they begin a hectic period by hosting Minnesota United.
Vancouver have picked up more points (20) than any other MLS side since May 8 after recovering from a dire start to the campaign, and their next outing sees them face a Minnesota side also sitting on 24 points, narrowly outside the Western Conference’s top seven.
But Sartini insists his team must be wary of complacency, saying:”Of course, we’re in a good moment, we are playing well. Everyone is, I would say, trying to express their best so the team is doing well.
“We’re confident, but we know that it’s not going to be easy at all. The only way to win is to be humble. It’s good to have a good self-esteem but at the same time, don’t be cocky.
“We’re going to play five games in 18 days I think, so I told everyone no-one will start five times, and no-one will never start.”
Minnesota are also looking up after clinching successive victories with a 3-2 win over Real Salt Lake last time out, boosting their own hopes of gate-crashing the playoffs.
Having watched his side down LA Galaxy the previous week, head coach Adrian Heath says the victories have given him renewed hope of a successful campaign.
“No matter what I tell the players, there’s nothing like actually winning games of football to give players confidence, especially the way we played as well,” he said.
“The last two games have been excellent, and we have to keep going because the next three or four weeks are a little bit tough with all the games.
“If we do well, then we can give ourselves a real opportunity forcing our way back in that playoff picture.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Vancouver Whitecaps – Ryan Gauld
Gauld’s form as the playmaking fulcrum of Vancouver’s 3-5-2 system has been key to their revival, and the diminutive Scot will look to dictate the game when Minnesota visit.
Minnesota United – Emanuel Reynoso
Reynoso has top-scored for the visitors with seven league goals this season, also topping their assists charts after teeing up three goals. Having recorded braces in back-to-back games, the Argentine is likely to threaten once more.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– The nine MLS meetings between Vancouver and Minnesota have seen each team win three times and three draws recorded. The Whitecaps won the last meeting, a 2-1 home victory in October 2021, though neither team has been able to record consecutive wins against the other.
– After losing six of their first eight games, the Whitecaps have made a remarkable turnaround, with just two losses (W6 D2) in their last 10 games. Since May 8, Vancouver has collected 20 points, more than any other team in MLS in that time.
– Minnesota United have recorded consecutive 3-2 victories, each after leading 3-0, following a win over Real Salt Lake on Sunday. Since the beginning of April, Minnesota have won all four matches in which they’ve scored three times, but just once in the 10 matches in which they didn’t (W1 D1 L8).
– The Whitecaps left it late again in beating Los Angeles FC on Saturday, with an Andres Cubas winnercoming in the 89th minute. Four of Vancouver’s seven wins have come from goals scored in the 89th minute or later this season.
– Emanuel Reynoso scored twice in Minnesota’s win over Real Salt Lake on Sunday, his second straightgame with a brace (also vs. LA Galaxy on June 29). Reynoso is the second player in club history to score multiple goals in consecutive matches after Kevin Molino did so in three straight (incl. playoffs) in 2020.