A week into the MLS is Back tournament in Orlando, the Vancouver Whitecaps will finally play a game that counts in the standings for the first time since March 7.
The Whitecaps (1-1-0, 3 points) face the San Jose Earthquakes in a Group B match of the tournament, the opener for Vancouver and the Earthquakes' second game after a scoreless draw with the Seattle Sounders on July 10.
Vancouver had originally been scheduled to play FC Dallas in the tourney opener for both teams last week. But a multiple-player outbreak of COVID-19 cases forced the game to be postponed, and FC Dallas withdrew from the tournament and left Florida.
"For us, our game plan stays the same. We've come down here with a job to do," midfielder Russell Teibert said. "The first goal is to maximize the amount of points that are there in the group stage."
Head coach Marc Dos Santos delivered an emotional speech to his players after a recent practice.
"Don't let me believe alone. We have to believe, us. Sticking together and saying ... 'Let's surprise everyone in the tournament," Dos Santos said in a video the team shared on Twitter. "Giving our best one game at a time."
San Jose (0-1-2, 2 points; 0-0-1, 1 point in MLS is Back) might have found its footing on defense since the MLS shut down in March after two weekends of games. The Earthquakes entered the Seattle game with a minus-three goal differential but kept the defending MLS Cup champion Sounders from finding the net.
"Really I'm very satisfied with what the players gave," Quakes coach Matias Almeyda said after the draw. "When one plays football, you don't just play, you have to interpret what you are doing. They've had excellent willingness ever since we gave them at-home workouts in San Jose. We were at the same level as the champions."
San Jose has won the past two meetings between the two teams, both by scores of 3-1.
--Field Level Media