Vancouver Whitecaps defenseman Florian Jungwirth is looking forward to crushing his former teammates.
However, he didn’t plan for any cracking tackles for the San Jose earthquakes on Saturday. Instead, he’s planning a verbal attack.
“I like to go into the minds of my opponents, I love a little trashy conversation,” Jungwirth said with a smile. “Guys know me, know what I am, but let’s see how they react.”
San Jose traded the 32-year-old German defender to Vancouver on August 6, and he did not come off the bench in a scoreless draw between the two teams on August 13.
Now he can’t wait to face one player in particular: veteran Quakes forward Chris Wondolowski, who holds the Major League Soccer goal scoring record with 168 goals in 18 seasons.
“He’s the (greatest of all time) in MLS,” Jungwirth said. “I really hope he starts (Saturday) because I love the guy. We’re good friends and he’s a great guy and personality.… If we go up against each other, with all due respect the legend, I will do my job. ”
It’s been a long week for the ‘Caps (8-8-10).
After beating FC Dallas 1-0 at home last Saturday, the club traveled to Texas and faced the Houston Dynamo in a scoreless draw on Wednesday. Vancouver is now just three points from a playoff berth with eight games left in the regular season.
After two long flights and a tough game in a hot and humid environment, putting in another solid performance on Saturday was no easy feat.
“We have to be completely honest, we didn’t have time to prepare for the game. So it’s pure and simple,” said Vanni Sartini, the Caps’ caretaker.
He noted that San Jose (8-10-9) is in a similar situation, having lost 3-1 to the Seattle Sounders on Wednesday.
“The simple thing is to keep it simple for the player, not to make too many changes and to keep the same structure that we have been working on in the last few games and to try to improve steadily, basically,” said Sartini.
The earthquakes are just one point behind the ‘Caps in the Western Conference, making Saturday’s game a pivotal point in the playoff race.
Vancouver has eight games to play in the regular season and is one of six teams separated by six points or less in the middle of the standings.
“It’s super tight,” goalkeeper Maxime Crépeau said of the table.
“We have to end the week properly at home to make the playoffs. It’s no secret the dressing room knows we have to win home games and score points on the road. So (Saturday) like a final for us and we’re going to approach it that way. “
The 27-year-old Canadian goaltender put in a pair of clutch performances for Vancouver over the past week, saving an added time penalty to preserve the victory over Dallas and making four saves to register his fifth clean sheet of the season in Houston a few days later.
He’s been named MLS Team of the Week two weeks in a row, but Crépeau remains focused on the task ahead: securing a playoff berth.
“These are the games I train for and I want to help the team reach that level over time, which is the playoffs,” he said. “It’s the only thing that matters.”
EARTHQUAKES FROM SAN JOSE (8-10-9) IN VANCOUVER WHITECAPS (8-8-10)
Saturday, BC Place
INJURY REPORT: Whitecaps defenseman Erik Godoy will not play on Saturday as he continues to recover from a right foot injury. Forward Lucas Cavallini (knee irritation), Cristian Gutierrez (left quad strain) and Ranko Veselinovic are all listed as questionable.
CANADA CALL: Crépeau and Cavallini were both called up to the Canadian national team for a series of World Cup qualifiers later this month. Team Canada also called up Vancouver defender Derek Cornelius, who is currently on loan to Greek Super League team Panetolikos FC.
HOME ADVANTAGE: The Whitecaps have been strong at BC Place this season, posting a 4-1-0 record at home since returning to Vancouver in August. The ‘Caps started the season from Sandy, Utah due to border restrictions and went 3-3-2 as a “home” team at Rio Tinto Stadium.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on October 1, 2021.
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