VANCOUVER — Caio Alexandre says he and his Vancouver Whitecaps teammates need to be deadly in front of the net if they want to accomplish their goals this season.
The 'Caps (2-2-1) are coming off a disappointing 1-0 loss to Minnesota United on Wednesday. It was a game where Vancouver had ample opportunities to score but couldn't bury the ball in the back of the net.
“We were obviously a little bit down that we weren’t lethal in (Wednesday’s) match as it didn’t help us get the result," Alexandre, a 22-year-old Brazilian midfielder, said through a translator on Friday.
The squad has been working hard in training this week to make the necessary changes ahead of Sunday's matchup with Sporting Kansas City (2-2-1), he added.
"The objective is obviously to be one of the top teams and in order to reach that objective, we have to be lethal and effective on all aspects of our game," Alexandre said.
Despite the final result, Whitecaps head coach Marc Dos Santos believes Wednesday's game was his group's strongest performance so far in the young Major League Soccer season.
“I think it was our best of the first five games this season, our most complete one," he said. "Defensively not always, but we had good moments defensively. But offensively, we generated a lot, we did enough to get out of Minnesota with points. Unfortunately we didn’t and now we have to try to get something in Kansas City.”
Sporting won't make the task an easy one.
Last year, Kansas City downed Vancouver 3-1 in the 'Caps home opener at B.C. Place. The squad also ousted the 'Caps from the MLS is Back tournament in Orlando, edging an undermanned Vancouver side on penalty kicks after a scoreless draw in the round of 16.
Kansas City also suffered a loss on Wednesday, dropping a 1-0 decision to the Houston Dynamo. It was the first time this season Sporting has been held off the scoresheet after scoring six goals over its first four games.
Sporting is a team that's changed their play in recent years, Dos Santos said, transforming into a team that is more vertical and better about choosing when to press.
"They’re always an MLS playoff contender. They won our division last season so, again, a big challenge for us as a team," he said.
The Whitecaps will be without at least one familiar face as they head to Kansas City. Centre back Andy Rose suffered an adductor strain in Wednesday's game and was replaced by Derek Cornelius in the 46th minute.
Dos Santos confirmed Rose won't be available on Sunday after starting all five games this season.
Whoever replaces him in the lineup will be looking to help the Whitecaps earn their first road win of the season. Vancouver already has points on the road after battling Toronto FC to a 2-2 draw opening day, but is still searching for a full three points in an away game.
Having fans in the stands in Kansas City will make the job even more difficult, Dos Santos said.
“When (Sporting) plays home, they always have that little extra," he said. "Going to Kansas in their stadium to get a result will take a lot of hard work from all of us."
VANCOUVER WHITECAPS (2-2-1) at SPORTING KANSAS CITY (2-2-1)
Children's Mercy Park, Sunday
SERIOUS STREAK: Kansas City heads into Sunday's game undefeated in its last five games against Vancouver.
HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE: Sporting has rarely been held off the scoresheet when playing in Kansas City. The team has scored in 17 straight regular-season home games dating back to Aug. 10, 2019.
CALL UP: Vancouver' left back Ali Adnan has been called up to the Iraqi national team for a pair of friendlies and three World Cup qualifying games. The 27-year-old designated player has yet to join the 'Caps this season and has been training with the academy team in Vancouver as he waits for his work visa to come through.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 14, 2021.
Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press