VANCOUVER - A rare come-from-behind win during the week could be the tonic the Vancouver Whitecaps need if they are to redeem themselves against high-flying FC Dallas on Saturday.
In Edmonton on Wednesday night, the Whitecaps scored twice in the final 10 minutes to take a 3-2 lead back to Vancouver in the first leg of its Amway Canadian Championship semifinal.
It was the first comeback win for the Whitecaps since May 5 last year, when former striker Eric Hassli netted a late game-winner in an exciting 2-1 win over the San Jose Earthquakes.
The win in Alberta was a timely result for Vancouver (2-3-2), which didn't need to wait long to try and atone for last weekend's 2-0 road defeat at the hands of Hassli's current team, Western Conference-leading Dallas (6-1-1).
"It was important," Whitecaps acting captain Nigel Reo-Coker said of Wednesday's successful rally. "It builds character and it builds team spirit and that's what you have to have, that never-say-die attitude.
"That's something we have to have but we didn't have it last week against Dallas and this week it gives us an opportunity to put that right."
Vancouver head coach Martin Rennie also noted the significance of Wednesday's result — which was also his team's first win on the road since July 4.
"It was really pleasing, the guys really dug deep and they worked very hard," he said. "They showed a lot of determination. It was kind of a strange game because we started the game really well and then just had a letdown that got punished.
"But it showed a lot of character and I think that when you haven't won a game for a little while, you need to have that fight, you need to have that determination and maybe it's a goal like the one that we got that wins the game, and so that's what it takes sometimes."
Vancouver is unbeaten at home this season while FC Dallas has a mixed record on the road, recording a win, draw and loss in their three road games.
Playing in front of a boisterous crowd at BC Place on Saturday afternoon should help the Whtiecaps in their quest to turn the tables, but Reo-Coker said the manner of last week's defeat should provide enough motivation for his team.
"It's a game we're not too proud of," he said. "It's a game we have to stand up and admit we were poor, we didn't deserve to win and we didn't deserve the result.
"Dallas were the better team and now it's about redeeming ourselves and given the opportunity so soon again it's about being men, and standing up."
As for what needed to improve from last weekend, Reo-Coker was blunt.
"Everything," he said. "We didn't perform at all, we didn't play well, we didn't pass the ball, we didn't create enough chances, we didn't keep the ball well and we didn't do simple basic things expected from us.
"So on Saturday I don't think much needs to be said in the dressing room, I think it's down to the boys to say 'we all have to stand up and be counted'."
Prior to last week's match, Rennie questioned the bizarre scheduling of playing Dallas in consecutive games. However, he is now welcoming the opportunity to quickly square the ledger.
"It's quite unusual to play back-to-back games in the regular season," he said. "But on this occasion I think we're all relishing it. I think we feel like we let ourselves down last week and to have the chance against the same team so soon is good."
Scottish striker Kenny Miller (hamstring) is back with the team but he ruled himself out of Saturday's game, meaning Brazilian striker Camilo — who scored twice against Edmonton — could force his way into the starting lineup.
Miller expects to return to full training on Monday and be in contention to play in next Wednesday's ACC semi-final second leg at home against the Eddies.
"I feel great," he said. "Obviously it's been a frustrating few weeks but hopefully that's coming to an end now.
"(Saturday) maybe just comes a little bit too soon but I'm looking to be involved at some point on Wednesday night."
Notes: Striker Corey Hertzog (concussion symptoms) won't be available this weekend but Rennie says he will be ready for Wednesday…It will be Hassli's first game back at BC Place since being traded to Toronto FC during the 2012 season. Hassli – who was a favourite among Caps fans - scored 12 goals in 44 appearances for Vancouver.