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Whitecaps surging into matchup with Minnesota
The Vancouver Whitecaps have been on a steady march, following their two Cascadia Cup rivals up the Western Conference standings.
The Whitecaps, who lost just twice in their past 10 games, host Minnesota United on Wednesday at BC Place in Vancouver in the second of four straight home games.
Third-place Vancouver (12-9-5) trails Portland by three points and Seattle by two in the standings.
"When you work hard you get the rewards. When you train properly you play properly. You saw a committed group today," head coach Carl Robinson told the team's website after Vancouver beat Real Salt Lake 3-2 on Saturday.
As the Whitecaps have moved up the standings, they are getting contributions from a variety of players.
"That's what teams do," Robinson said. "We've got talented individuals but collectively, and I've said it from day one this season and day one since I took the job, we're going to do it with a team ethic."
Minnesota United (7-14-5) is mired in 11th place and is playing its fourth straight road match.
But the Whitecaps say they won't overlook the Loons.
"They are a really good team," Vancouver midfielder Brek Shea told The National Post. "If you watch them play, they possess the ball well."
The Whitecaps haven't forgotten their 2-2 draw in Minneapolis on June 24.
Vancouver took a 2-0 lead into halftime and appeared to be cruising before Minnesota defenders Francisco Calvo and Jerome Thiessen broke through with second-half goals.
"Any time you feel like you should have won you have unfinished business," Shea said. "We want to go out and win."
On Sunday, Minnesota found itself down 1-0 to Philadelphia five minutes into the match.
"Well, we started terrible. Couldn't have started any worse than we did. First 15 minutes, it was a comedy of errors. It really was," United coach Adrian Heath said. "I thought we grew into the game after that, and I thought after 20, 25 minutes, I thought we were probably the most dominant team."
But Ethan Finlay, who was acquired from the Columbus Crew last month, found the equalizer for Minnesota.
"This whole thing was kind of a change of scenery," Finlay said of his trade a month ago, according to the (Minneapolis) Star Tribune. "Kind of get you out of your comfort zone, get a spark. Sometimes, you need a little luck."
In three matches since being traded to Minnesota, Finlay has two goals and two assists. In his first 19 games for the Crew he had just one of each.
"It's gotta be the air, right?" Finlay said, according to the team's website. "It's crisper here. I think this whole thing was kind of a change of scenery, get you out of your comfort zone, ya know?"
"He's come in and his confidence is sky-high at the moment," Heath added. "He's a good player, which is what we expect. If we have Ethan for a full season, he'll get double figures for both (goals and assists). That's what we expect from attacking players."
Next up, the Loons will travel most of the way across Canada to take on the Impact in Montreal on Saturday.
Vancouver hosts Columbus the same day.
Updated September 12, 2017