Photo Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski of USA TODAY Sports

*This was originally posted on March 2, 2022*

Vancouver Whitecaps head coach Vanni Sartini didn’t put it lightly on how bad the team’s performance was against the Columbus Crew last week.

“Our build-up was terrible,” said Sartini to the media on Wednesday. “It was very bad, we made wrong choices, we lost the ball too many times close to our goal.”

Looking to put the poor performance behind them, there is also a tough test standing in the Whitecaps’ way. Up next is New York City FC who are the defending MLS Cup Champions. NYCFC lost their last game 1-0 to the Los Angeles Galaxy. Javier Hernández, more commonly known by his nickname “Chicharito” scored the winner

“If they got the result in Los Angeles, I don’t think they would have made changes to preserve guys in the (CONCACAF) Champions League,” said Sartini on NYCFC. “I expect them to come out with their best team and it’s going to be really hard because they won the MLS Cup last year. We need to be our best selves in order to make results.”

Sartini called last week’s 4-0 loss in Columbus a wake-up call and he didn’t want to have big meetings and long video sessions dissecting what the players did wrong.

“We all know we were very bad,” said Sartini. “I try to motivate them by staying on the task and being honest with them and telling them what we did wrong in small groups and say we can do better. In training, if they are doing the right things, I praise them and be very honest if they are not doing it. With the video, which we do with small groups, we show the little things we did wrong in Columbus but also show a lot of examples from training, the preseason games, and even last year’s games of the same things we did in the correct way. Everyone has the skills and tools to do the things we want them to do.”

Learning the right way is a big part of a young player’s development and Pedro Vite and Sebastian Berhalter are two young players (19 and 20 respectively) that came off the bench against the Crew. They could potentially start or come off the bench against NYCFC.

“They are two very good young players but different,” said Sartini on Vite and Berhalter. “Seba (Berhalter) is a fighter and someone who is very good to cover the ground and can be a good ball-winner as a defending midfielder and I like the fact that he is trying to learn our way of tactics. Pedro is a completely different player because he is a very skillful offensive midfielder/number 10. I like the fact he uses his skills in a way to be practical and be serviceable to the team. So both of them during the season will help the team.”

Brian White, the Whitecaps’ leading scorer last season hurt his foot in training a few days before the game against the Crew and is doubtful to play on Saturday.

“He needs some additional exams on his foot,” said Sartini on White. “I don’t know if he’ll be ready tomorrow for training and for the game.”

The duo of White and Lucas Cavallini was something to look forward to. White proved he can score at the MLS level last season and Cavallini could get his form back playing aside him but the two will likely have to wait a little while longer before playing a game together.

Also should note that fans are encouraged to wear blue and yellow at the home opener in support for the people of Ukraine. The club will also donate to the Canadian Red Cross Ukraine Humanitarian Crisis Appeal on behalf of everyone who attends the game on Saturday.

“We encourage everyone coming to our home opener on Saturday to wear blue & yellow as we stand united with all Ukrainians here in Vancouver and around the world,” said Axel Schuster, the Whitecaps CEO & Sporting Director. “We have reached out to members from our local Ukrainian communities, and our supporters and players are unified in our message to condemn this war.”