FRISCO – Vancouver Whitecaps FC head coach Martin Rennie spoke openly about the goal for his club after his team’s 1-0 loss to FC Dallas Saturday night put the Texas side just one point behind the ‘Caps for the fifth and final playoff berth in the Western Conference.
“We’re trying to be the first Canadian team ever to reach the MLS Cup Playoffs, and it’s a big task,” Rennie said.
Ironically, the Canadian club’s untimely losing streak – which is putting its playoff hopes in severe danger – was extended by the lone player on the field who has suited up for the Canadian Men’s National Team in a competitive match.
Julian de Guzman’s 25-yard volley in the sixth minute of stoppage time kept the playoff hopes of both Vancouver and Dallas hanging in the balance. As a proud Canadian, de Guzman recognizes what success for clubs north of the border would mean for the sport in his home country.
“It would be a great thing for the sport in Canada,” de Guzman said after an FC Dallas training session. “For a Canadian team to actually make a play at the playoffs, I think would mean a great deal to all the Canadian fans and the sport in Canada.”
Although his former club will miss out on the postseason for the sixth straight year, de Guzman says 2012 has been Canada’s best shot at the MLS Cup Playoffs to date, noting Montreal’s recent run at a spot in the Eastern Conference and Vancouver’s current standing in the West.
“Vancouver is actually [currently] in a playoff spot, but I’m with a team that’s fighting for that spot as well just behind them,” de Guzman said. “I’m representing Dallas. My mission is to help this team take that playoff spot.”
Beyond helping his current team, de Guzman said that playing in the postseason for the first time would mean a great deal to him personally after missing out of the last three seasons with Toronto FC.
“Being from Toronto, the opportunity to play for TFC was a dream for me,” the defensive midfielder said. “Now I’m in a position where the dream has gotten bigger.”
De Guzman knows that in order to attain that dream, he and his teammates will need to continue to earn points from the remaining four matches of the regular season.
“I’m in an amazing position right now with FC Dallas fighting for that last spot and we’re getting closer,” de Guzman said. “Whether that means passing a team that’s Canadian or American, it doesn’t really matter at this point.”