The Vancouver Whitecaps are top of the Western Conference. What’s more, they are starting to look like a serious title contender.
For a team whose form has been inconsistent for much of the year, after starting the season with a rash of injuries to key players, the Whitecaps have made an almost stealthy climb to the summit.
Wednesday night’s comfortable 3-0 home win against Minnesota United saw the ‘Caps move into first place in the Western Conference for the first time this season, extending their unbeaten run to five games in the process.
It’s been quite the turnaround for the Whitecaps, who missed the playoffs last season for the first time in three years. But just what is it about this season’s squad that makes them different to previous ones? What is it this Vancouver team has that others haven’t?
“Quality,” head coach Carl Robinson stated on Wednesday. “Unfortunately you can’t turn around a team in one year. You’d like to but you just can’t”.”
Their rise to the top may have gone largely unnoticed, but with a now solid defensive footing and an exciting counterattack, Vancouver may very well be the real deal this season. They’re finding their best form at the right time, and if that No. 1 seeding in the West was unthinkable earlier in the season, it can’t be ruled out now.
Much like the Whitecaps’ ascent, Robinson has quietly gone about rebuilding his squad. There are 14 new faces on Vancouver’s roster from the squad that finished 2016.
Getting to first in the Western Conference is one thing. Staying there, or at least getting a first-round bye in the playoffs, is another. Vancouver have shown their depth is strong, but they now know consistency is their key now to maintaining their place at the top.