Cranky Caps aim to take out frustrations on well-rested New York squad

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“I should have asked some of the (New York) guys to water my plants or something, since they were here a whole week before me,” said Jake Nerwinski of the Whitecaps

Montreal Impact’s Saphir Taider, left, takes the ball away from Vancouver Whitecaps Jakob Nerwinski during MLS action in Montreal on Aug. 28, 2019. John Mahoney / Postmedia News

Some 4,700 kilometres east of where New York City FC was yukking it up in relaxed training sessions in Vancouver, a bleary-eyed Whitecaps team was trying its best to make the most of annoying accommodations at the Montreal airport.

Already short-tempered from a pre-dawn wake-up after losing 2-1 to the Montreal Impact the night before, a Major League Soccer game that brought its own frustrations, the Caps arrived at YUL to find their flight home had been cancelled at the last minute.

The Caps tried to make the best of a bad situation, playing cards, watching movies, or, like Tosaint Ricketts, trying to catch 40 winks on a rock-hard airport bench.

The Caps even broke out the mini-ball for an impromptu game of one-touch before airport security shut down their boredom-busting fun.

They eventually caught a flight back in the afternoon, but they were still smarting over the result from the night before, and the social media pictures of the Pigeons making themselves comfortable in Vancouver before they’d even faced the Impact.

“We were in the hotel in Montreal before the game, and there were already pictures of New York arriving at the airport (in) Vancouver. That’s crazy. I haven’t seen that nowhere,” said Caps coach Marc Dos Santos.

“It’s like you invite a guy that you don’t know well … you invite him to dinner at your place, you say ‘be there are seven’ and when you arrive at your place, he’s already there, on your couch, smoking a cigar.’ It’s the same thing. It doesn’t make sense. I think it’s ridiculous.”

The Whitecaps host New York on Saturday at B.C. Place Stadium, their third match in eight days, three time zones and 14,000 kilometres travelled.

“I should have asked some of the guys to water my plants or something, since they were here a whole week before me,” said Caps right back Jake Nerwinski. “It’s definitely been difficult for us, a lot of Wednesday games travelling to the East Coast and back to the West. It’s been a grind, but it’s nice to finally be home.”

In April, the Caps flew to Chicago, returned home to host LAFC, they burned jet-fuel again, travelling to Orlando for an away match, all in the span of nine days. The Lions had a week of rest before playing the Caps.

In May, after hosting Atlanta, the Whitecaps played Sporting in Kansas City three days later. SKC was coming off a six-day break.

After hosting Colorado in June, Vancouver visited Dallas four days later, then flew to Seattle for a game three days after that. Seattle hadn’t played a game in over three weeks, and beat the Caps on a 94th-minute goal, a loss that kicked off the rough five-game losing streak.

With NYCFC not having played since last Saturday, Dos Santos counts their game at B.C. Place as the fifth time this year they’ve played a rested opponent.

“For me to be talking about Vancouver-New York, I’m not talking about two teams that start on the same (preparation) level. It’s two teams that have different rest, different preparation, different recovery. It’s going to take absolutely everything we have to get a result.”

“It’s no secret. There needs to be change within the league,” added right back Scott Sutter, who took to Twitter to voice his displeasure during the delay in Montreal.

“We’ve played mid-week games and travelled all over Europe in the Champions League, in the Euro league, and it’s just so much better organized there,” added the London native, who played nearly a decade with three different teams in the Swiss first division.



New York City FC vs. Vancouver Whitecaps

7 p.m., B.C. Place Stadium, TV: TSN 1/4; Radio: TSN 1040 AM

“In this league, travel is such a huge issue. Away games are tough enough as it is … it’s just about making the schedule so it works for everyone. I don’t understand why it can’t be done. I think there are certain teams that benefit from the league schedule, and we’re certainly not one of them.”

The Whitecaps are already the team that travels the most in MLS, their total of 82,414 km flown nearly twice the amount of the least travelled team (Columbus, 41,620 km) and the most number of 1,500-plus kilometre trips.

But throw in what Dos Santos feels is an unbalanced schedule, and it takes away the competitive equality that should exist.

“Could we have played the game Sunday instead of Saturday? I don’t know. Could we have played a team that also played Wednesday?

“Can we have that competitive reality that teams start at the same level? That’s the only thing I question,” he said Friday, proferring a solution in the form of a Super Wednesday where all the teams in the league were in action.

For now, all Dos Santos can do is prep his team the best he can. Friday’s training session was light, short and focused primarily on loosening up the Caps’ travel-worn bodies. Tactics would be addressed in whatever video sessions they can fit in Saturday.

The one thing working in their favour was the pent-up anger from Wednesday’s controversial disallowed goal in the loss to Montreal, their disjointed travel, and irritation over the schedule.

“(We’re going to) keep it simple,” he said of preparing for New York.

“You keep everything as simple as you can. I know inside, a lot of our guys feel a lot of revolt, from even the call in Montreal, they feel revolt from the type of travelling, that NYCFC was here before us … that passion, that desire is going to be a part that comes out of us tomorrow.”

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