'We will be better': Whitecaps' Lee
With the way the Vancouver Whitecaps started their season, one that featured a new coach and an improved roster, all the promise and optimism that followed was inevitable.
But over their last five to 10 games, that same positive outlook has taken a back seat in favour of question marks and concern. Veteran defender Y.P. Lee is quick to pinpoint why the team has done a 180 in results, which has Vancouver desperately holding onto the final playoff spot in the MLS Western Conference.
"The first 10 games, we had very good energy," Lee said Wednesday at club training in Burnaby. "But now, the mood is not good anymore, getting worse. And the young players are getting a little bit stressed, thinking of the negative things. We don't need to do that.
"The last 10 games, we're working hard but we're not good (with) the combination and organization of the defence. That's the problem I think. Right now, we're trying to find the reason and then find the solution.
"We need to be positive thinking and we will be better. If we keep working and thinking more of our tactic, we will be better."
The Whitecaps started their season without allowing a goal in the first four games, and held a 7-4-5 record before midfielder Barry Robson's arrival - which was around the time of many other personnel changes. Since then, they have gone 3-7-2, and in their last five losses the team has been outscored 9-1.
Lee claims the lineup shuffle is part of the reason behind the setbacks, as the team was on "different page of thinking." But now, they are "happy."
However, the losing is still difficult to deal with, even for an experienced player like the 35-year-old Korean right back, who has more than 500 caps in both club and international play.
"Even experienced players don't like this situation," he said. "We don't want to stay in this mood. We don't need to think about too much, what is our problem and what is our weaker point. But we need to realize it. Our first 10 games we were playing very well, that means we can do it again. Sometimes we lose the direction. I think the first thing is we're training hard, and then we really need to fix our individual mentality. It is very, very important. The mentality can cover everything, even tactics. It's very difficult to have a good mentality every single game, I know. But we need to try to do it."
Good mentality, and comfortableness, will hopefully come with returning home, as the Whitecaps have not played at BC Place since Aug. 15. They will play four straight in Vancouver, starting Sunday against the Colorado Rapids, before one more on the road.
"It does make a big difference at home," captain Jay DeMerit said. "When you get back home and you get to the comfort of your own home, you look for guys to come out of their shell a little bit. Nothing can help us do that like that fans."