The Los Angeles Galaxy have downplayed their status as favourites for their knockout play-off clash with Vancouver on Thursday.
The Galaxy, defending champions in the MLS, had a tough regular season that saw them finish fourth in the Western Conference.
That has not stopped them from being installed as warm favourites for Thursday’s match at the Home Depot Center, but coach Bruce Arena was keen to shrug off that tag.
“You can call us whatever you’d like,” Arena said. “We’ve been called every name this year, so whatever one you want to choose for this game is fine.
“I don’t know how you define any of that stuff.
“In soccer it’s a little different than other sports. Since it’s low scoring, this is the sport there’s most upsets in, probably. Favourite labels or underdog labels don’t mean a whole lot in this sport.”
Arena said outside perception would not affect his squad’s motivation.
“We have no problem having our team ready to play this game – they’re ready to play,” he said.
Galaxy star David Beckham echoed his coach’s sentiments.
“There are no underdogs in a one-off game, in my eyes,” Beckham said.
“We believe that we are good enough but at some points this season we haven’t been good enough so hopefully they are out the way and we can push through and win the game on Thursday and move on.”
The Whitecaps have conceded just one goal in their last four games, and Galaxy midfielder Landon Donovan knows his team will need to take their time in order to break down their opponents.
“We’ve stressed patience this week,” Donovan said. “We have to assume the way they’ve spoken and the way they played last week in Salt Lake (a 0-0 draw) is indicative of how they’re going to come here and play.
“If that’s the case, two things need to happen: We need to be very patient and we need to be very alert and aware when the ball turns over and they counter.
“For us it’s simple: We need to play well and we need to do the things we’re good at.
“When we do that, more often than not we’re successful.”