Wed, 04 Oct 2023

After the Vancouver Whitecaps captured their second consecutive Canadian Championship on Wednesday with a 2-1 victory against visiting CF Montreal, coach Vanni Sartini was ready to reach for more.

"Let's go win the MLS," Sartini exclaimed. "We'll start probably after Cincinnati because we might be a little bit drunk (from celebrating), so that's OK."

The Whitecaps (5-5-6, 21 points) might indeed be a little worse for wear when league-leading FC Cincinnati (12-1-3, 39 points) makes its first trip to Vancouver for Saturday night's match.

Sartini got a tattoo of the Canadian Championship trophy after last year's title. He's already planning for more ink.

"It will be very easy, just adding a year underneath," Sartini said. "I still have a lot of part of my body that is free. There's Leagues Cup, there's MLS Cup, Champions Cup now, Champions League next year. So, why not? The sky is the limit."

The Whitecaps are unbeaten at home in eight straight matches (5-0-3) since a loss to Real Salt Lake on Opening Day. They rallied for a 1-1 draw with visiting Sporting Kansas City last weekend as Ryan Gauld scored on a penalty kick in the 88th minute.

Cincinnati is coming off a 1-0 victory last weekend against visiting Chicago, improving to 10-0-3 in games decided by one goal or fewer. Luciano Acosta scored his team-leading seventh goal of the season as the Orange and Blue extended their winning streak to a franchise-record six matches.

Saturday's match will cap a stretch of eight matches in 25 days for Cincinnati.

"After a very difficult stretch, for us to have been able to have the success under the circumstances, I couldn't be more pleased with how the guys have gone about it," Cincinnati coach Pat Noonan said. "One of the challenging things recently is not training a whole lot. It's just (been) games and recovery, and just a lot of 11-versus-11 walkthrough stuff. When we get into a normal routine, (and) we'll have the ability to do that after this Vancouver game, we can address some things in training."

Vancouver holds a 1-0-1 lead in the all-time series, including a 2-2 draw last season in Cincinnati. The visiting Whitecaps also won 2-1 in the Orange and Blue's inaugural MLS season of 2019.

--Field Level Media

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