‘Every day we’re fighting’: Whitecaps still working as dismal season ends

Heading into their final game of the season, the Vancouver Whitecaps aren’t ready to quit fighting.

It’s been a difficult year for the Whitecaps (8-15-10), punctuated by long losing skids, but the squad is on a three-game unbeaten run heading into Sunday’s season finale against Real Salt Lake (15-13-5).

None of the recent contests mattered much in terms of the standings, as the Whitecaps have known for weeks that they won’t be playoff-bound for the second year in a row and third time in the past four seasons.

Despite the circumstances, the group has been unwilling to give up, however. And that’s what coach Marc Dos Santos likes best about his players.

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“Regardless the position we’re in, regardless if we’re in or out of the playoffs, whatever, the level of professionalism, the level of commitment until the end has been very good,” he said.

The group has continued to play hard not just for each other but for the entire franchise, from the coaching staff through to the fans, said ‘keeper Maxime Crepeau.

“Every week, every day we’re fighting,” he said. “We’re fighting for the club, everyone who’s working, everyone who’s in the organization. We’re fighting for them and, yes, at the end of the day we’re the players on the pitch, but it’s more than this.”

Some of the players are also keenly aware that they’re fighting for jobs next season.

Click to play video: 'Bob Lenarduzzi out as Whitecaps’ president'
Bob Lenarduzzi out as Whitecaps’ president

Tosaint Ricketts joined the ‘Caps in August after playing in Lithuania. He knows the past seven games have been an audition. The 32-year-old Canadian has scored a goal and added two assists.

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“Every game is an opportunity to show what you can do. Every game is an opportunity to show your value to the club and the organization and how you can not only help on the field but help off the field as well,” Ricketts said.

“So I’m just trying to check all those boxes and be that positive addition to the team in the late stages of this season.”

The final game of the season won’t be an easy one, however. Real Salt Lake is looking for a win that could help them cement home-field advantage in the Major League Soccer playoffs.

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The squad has known scorers like Albert Rusnak and Sam Johnson, and the ‘Caps will need to minimize RSL’s transition game in order to finish the season with a victory, Crepeau said.

Bungling Salt Lake’s post-season plans wouldn’t be anything new for the Whitecaps, who’ve also caused trouble for L.A. Galaxy, Columbus Crew SC and the Houston Dynamo in recent weeks.

“We’ve been playing the spoilers’ role a little bit and I think we need to do the same thing (on Sunday),” Crepeau said. “If we can screw with other teams, we’ll do it 100 per cent. That’s the reality of this game.”

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In their last three games, the Whitecaps have scored in the 90th minute or later to get a result. Two of the strikes have been game winners and the other was an equalizer that allowed Vancouver to split points with Columbus.

Still, Dos Santos doesn’t love the last-minute heroics and would prefer to finish in a more relaxed style on Sunday.

“I’d love to be in a game that we’re 3-0 up, I ask (assistant coach Vanni Sartini) to give me a cigar, I sit down,” the coach said. “But it has never happened this year. It doesn’t matter. It’s fun for us. It’s not fun for the other teams when that happens.”

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