Vancouver Whitecaps coach Tommy Soehn looked forward to Saturday’s Cascadia derby with Seattle Sounders on a conference call this afternoon.
Along with club President Bob Lenarduzzi, he spoke to Seattle reporters about the upcoming clash.
Both men saw opportunity to use the uniqueness of the local derby to isolate this fixture from the rest of a torrid beginning to life in the major league.
“We’re obviously not in the place that we wanted to be at this point of the season with only one win.
If it were another league game, any other league game other than a northwest derby, it would still be great to get a win but it would be so much greater to get a win in Seattle. There’s no doubt about that. It would give us the impetus for building on that.”
Soehn was asked about not just this game, but whether the subsequent run of fixtures including Toronto and Sporting Kansas presented an extra opportunity to harvest points on the back of a derby result bounce:
“Right now we’re looking at the next game as the most important but we’d be silly not to look at the schedule and have some goals set for us. Most importantly, we want to work our way back into the mix. So we realise the importance of every game. There’s a big emotional swing when you get environments like Seattle where there’s a full stadium and the energy’s high.”
He expressed an optimism that one game could in fact achieve this turnaround:
“It doesn’t take much to turn a team around especially a team that I believe in, because I think there’s a lot of talent. We’re excited to play; to get that next result which could lead to bigger things.”
Motivation should not be an issue, and Soehn contrasted the build up to a derby game with any other:
“In situations like that, especially a derby, similar to when I coached with DC, we had it with New York. Normally when you’re working on motivating, (in this instance), there’s not a whole lot of motivating to do. The players all are aware of the competitive nature in a derby. What a great situation to be in and nothing could be better to get a result against them.”
But it is old stalwart Lenarduzzi who has the rivalry flowing through his veins. It seems that there are still some bruises from those days:
“Bring on Jimmy Gabriel! I’m sure he could still boot people around like he did back in 1974.”
No doubt Bob will make a visit to the press box to try out his theory on Saturday!
“On a serious note, it’ s a rivalry that does go back to 1974. I was fortunate enough to have been a player then. We’ve had some great teams, great talent. Shared some great personalities. Alan Hinton played for us in 1978. He went to Seattle after that.
In the current MLS environment, we are fortunate enough to have benefitted from what the Sounders have done, on and off the field. We haven’t had the start that they had but we’re hopeful that we can turn our season around. This will be the first chance we have had to participate in the northwest rivalry.”
Soehn added that:
“We know it will be a hostile environment but situations like that bring out the best in players.”
The derby may just have fallen at a good time for the Caps if the enthusiasm and optimism of Soehn and Lenarduzzi turns into a result.
In Seattle, it is called a Jeff Parke moment.
It remains to be seen if another hero, this time in white, can stamp his name on a season changing moment.