Whitecaps to treat every game as Cup final 0
Whitecaps FC's Jay DeMerit. (Photo Bob Frid, Whitecaps FC)
To have Jay DeMerit officially back in the lineup is certainly a boost for the Vancouver Whitecaps. But with the way things have been going for the team over the past eight weeks, they will need more than just a boost.
The captain returned last Saturday after being out with an injury since the season opener and played about 60 minutes as a substitute. The timing couldn't be better as his team is faced with important games from here on out — ones that will decide their playoff fate.
"We want to get in," DeMerit said of the MLS post-season. "They're as important as any other game we've had this year and probably more important because of what we want to accomplish."
Six games remain in the regular season and Vancouver (10-10-8) sits five points out of a playoff spot. This Saturday, they visit the Montreal Impact, who are second in the Eastern Conference and have scored the most goals at home this season. Of the remaining five games, all are against squads currently in a playoff position, including the league's best Seattle Sounders, and the second- and third-ranked clubs in Real Salt Lake and Colorado, respectively.
Then there's the Portland Timbers, who are currently holding onto the final playoff spot in the West.
"Every individual game is a Cup final, that's the best way to look at it," midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker said. "We've made it hard for ourselves, but that's the situation we're in so now we have to face up to the challenge."
Of note, head coach Martin Rennie said that injured centre backs Andy O'Brien and Johnny Leveron should both be in contention for Saturday's lineup. Considering the Whitecaps will have to defend against the top scorer in the league in striker Marco Di Vaio, it's probably a good thing they have more defensive options to choose from.
"Maybe we can play all four of them at centre back," Rennie joked of the suddenly healthy bodies he has defensively. "It's nice for us to have the option of more than two defenders. The fact that we have a little bit of competition and decision is nice.
"We've not had the consistent partnership there … but the last game Jay and Carlyle Mitchell did very well."