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Whitecaps looking to improve dismal home record with rival Sounders in town

Vancouver Whitecaps' Matias Laba, left, and Nicolas Mezquida walk off the field after losing the Canadian Championship soccer final to Toronto FC on aggregate in Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday June 29, 2016. The Whitecaps have been poor at B.C. Place Stadium during a lost 2016 campaign, winning just five of 15 home matches in Major League Soccer, but negativity from the stands has been rare. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
September 30, 2016 - 5:02 PM

VANCOUVER - If they deserve it, the Vancouver Whitecaps don't mind getting booed at home every now and again.

The club has been poor at B.C. Place Stadium during a lost 2016 campaign, winning just five of 15 home matches in Major League Soccer, but negativity from the stands has been rare.

Last weekend's halftime walk to the locker-room while trailing 1-0 in a game the Whitecaps desperately needed to keep any realistic hope for the playoffs alive seemed like a perfect opportunity for supporters to voice their displeasure.

Instead there wasn't much of a reaction at all.

"At times if it's unacceptable you're told that, you know that by the fans," said Vancouver defender David Edgar, who joined the club in June. "We didn't get that last Saturday. It is different, it is an adjustment, because I remember last season I was booed off (in England) and we were winning 1-0 at halftime.

"It's not even the results that matter at times. It's the performance and determination and the desire you're showing to wear the jersey."

Vancouver did fight back in the second half three times, including twice after being reduced to 10 men, in what would turn into a 3-3 tie with the Colorado Rapids, but the opening 45 minutes were far below what was required.

Vancouver head coach Carl Robinson commended fans after the game for not booing his team at the break, but goalkeeper David Ousted said Friday that criticism from the stands can serve as a wake-up call.

"I've been booed a couple times in my career," he said. "It kind of gives you that feeling that: 'OK, this can't be right. We're at home. We've got to show these fans we're willing to fight for them.'"

Vancouver (9-14-8) heads into the weekend ahead of Sunday's visit by Seattle Sounders (12-13-5) with the worst home record in MLS on a points-per-game basis. The Whitecaps are 5-4-6 at B.C. Place this season, grabbing an average of just 1.4 points for every outing.

"We just haven't been good enough. It's as straight an answer as that," said Ousted, whose team is 1-6-4 in overall league play since the middle of July. "We can look at many factors — personal mistakes and all that — but the simple answer is we just haven't been good enough."

Robinson said he will look at everything in the off-season to improve his team's home record, from changing practice schedules to possibly staying in a local hotel the night before games.

"We need to sort our home form out," he said. "Last year our home form, I didn't believe was up to the standard I wanted and this year we've taken a step back."

The Whitecaps currently sit six points back of the final playoff berth in the Western Conference, a spot currently occupied by Seattle, but could find themselves even further adrift depending on what happens in Saturday's match between the Rapids and Portland Timbers. Portland is even on points with the Sounders, but has played one more game.

"I will never accept it until it's completely gone," Ousted said of Vancouver's minuscule chances at the post-season with three matches remaining. "Is it unlikely right now? Yeah, probably. But that doesn't mean I'm not going to go out and give 110 per cent, because stranger things have happened."

Notes: Sounders midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro, who has three goals and eight assists in 10 games since joining Seattle as a designated player in July, will miss the match because of yellow card accumulation. Whitecaps defender Kendall Waston will also sit out after being sent off against Colorado. ... Sounders forward Clint Dempsey has been shut down for the remainder of the season due to an irregular heartbeat.

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News from © The Canadian Press, 2016
The Canadian Press

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