VANCOUVER, BC – The race for the fifth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference continues on Saturday, as Vancouver Whitecaps FC (8W-8L-13D) host Real Salt Lake (13W-6L-10D) at BC Place. Tickets: http://ow.ly/BVD33.
Kickoff for Saturday’s match set for 4 p.m. PT at BC Place. You can watch the match live on TSN2, Bell mobile devices, and TSN GO. The match will also air live on TSN 1410 VANCOUVER and tsnradiovancouver.ca, including a pre-game show at 2 p.m. PT and a two-hour post-game show immediately following the match.
With five matches remaining, the ‘Caps trail fifth-place Portland Timbers by two points for the final playoff spot. A win on Saturday could move the Blue and White back above the red line, depending on Portland’s result against Toronto FC earlier in the day.
Real Salt Lake, meanwhile, would clinch their seventh straight playoff berth with a win or tie.
VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC
Last match: Portland Timbers 3-0 Vancouver Whitecaps FC
The ‘Caps will be looking to bounce back on Saturday after suffering a disappointing 3-0 defeat to Portland Timbers at Providence Park. After a lively start, Whitecaps FC went down in the 28th minute courtesy of a well-taken Diego Valeri volley, which changed the dynamic of the game.
“It’s important we stand up and be accounted for after Saturday’s disappointing result,” head coach Carl Robinson told reporters this week. “We need to bounce back and rebound and it starts now.”
Midfielder Russell Teibert, who could set a new career-high with his eighth straight start on Saturday, added that it’s time for the players to take responsibility for getting the team back on track.
“There's not much more the coaching staff can do for us,” Teibert told reporters. “There's not much more the fans can do for us, because they've been great all year long. It's now down to us, however many guys in the locker room, to battle together, to fight for each other and to really push for a playoff spot.”
Robinson will have some lineup decisions to make on Saturday, as Honduran centre back Johnny Leveron trained in full this week after missing last weekend’s match with a foot sprain.
Another question to ponder is whether to stick to a 4-2-3-1 formation, or try to match Real Salt Lake’s 4-4-2 diamond midfield – a shape the ‘Caps used in their 2-0 win over San Jose September 10 at BC Place.
REAL SALT LAKE
Last match: Real Salt Lake 5-1 Colorado Rapids
The Royals, who fell to Sporting Kansas City in the 2013 MLS Cup final, enter Saturday’s contest third in the Western Conference with 49 points and a 13W-6L-10D record. Their most recent outing was a dominant 5-1 win over Colorado Rapids – their widest margin of victory this season.
Striker Joao Plata has led the way offensively for Real Salt Lake this season. The 22-year-old has a team-high 13 goals in 22 appearances, including goals in back-to-back games. He also found the back of the net in each of Real Salt Lake’s two matches against Whitecaps FC earlier this season.
Another player to watch is attacking midfielder Javier Morales, who has nine goals to go along with a team-high 11 assists. The South American playmaker pulls the strings for RSL’s attack from the tip of their diamond midfield, as illustrated by his 82 chances created – third best in MLS after Diego Valeri and Landon Donovan.
Although Morales and Plata often make the headlines, Real Salt Lake’s stingy defence has been perhaps most key to their success this season. They’ve only conceded 36 goals in 29 matches, which is the second lowest total in the Western Conference after LA Galaxy (31 goals).
July 19, 2014: Real Salt Lake 1-1 Vancouver Whitecaps FC
After a pair of draws at Rio Tinto Stadium, one of the toughest places to play in MLS, Saturday’s match will be the third and final meeting between Whitecaps FC and Real Salt Lake this season.
Most recently, the Western Conference foes played to a 1-1 draw in a heated battle that saw seven players booked – a match Robinson referred to as the start of a new rivalry between the two teams.
Whitecaps FC have had mixed results against the Royals since joining MLS, posting a 2W-4L-4D record overall. However, Vancouver’s record at BC Place is 2W-1L-1D.
The ‘Caps are back at BC Place next Saturday, October 4 to host FC Dallas in their second to last home match this season. The late Domenic Mobilio will be inducted into the Whitecaps FC Ring of Honour prior to the match. Members of the Mobilio family will be on hand for the induction ceremony.
Kickoff is set for 4 p.m. PT and tickets are still available at whitecapsfc.com/tickets.
Participate in the best sporting experience in Vancouver! Save 12% on 2015 Whitecaps FC Season Tickets between September 26 and October 7. Fans who purchase Season Tickets by October 4 will be automatically entered to win a trip to Germany, courtesy of adidas. In addition to Season Tickets, Whitecaps FC offer a flexible range of ticket products, including Half-Season Packs, 5-Packs, Student Half-Season Tickets, and a Youth Soccer Half-Season Ticket. For more information on 2015 Season Tickets, visit whitecapsfc.com/12.