CHARLESTON BATTERY PREVIEW

Vancouver Whitecaps FC aim to make a late season push when they host Charleston Battery on Saturday evening. Bob Lilley’s side saw their four-game unbeaten streak come to an end against Canadian rivals Montreal Impact last Saturday. Goals by Patrick Leduc and Matt Palleschi gave the Quebec club all three points at Swangard Stadium. With four games remaining at Swangard to conclude the 2007 regular season, Vancouver still need points in order to secure a berth in the USL-1 playoffs next month. “There was a bit of a residual effect of the Montreal defeat on Monday, but by the end of the training session, the team was back to their upbeat ways,” assistant coach Todd Wawrousek told whitecapsfc.com. “Tuesday and Thursday were very productive training sessions, and I continue to be impressed with the resilience of the team. I feel the integration some of the new personnel to have an understanding of different tendencies in our team is still taking place, but I feel we’re close to getting it right. As a team, we’re looking forward to Saturday night.” The Whitecaps meet a Charleston side that are also fighting to claim a playoff berth after a far from stellar campaign so far. Since the Battery’s 1-1 home draw with the Whitecaps on June 30, the South Carolina-based club gone on to claim a record of three wins, five defeats and a draw in eight games. Their last contest was a disappointing 3-0 home defeat to regional rivals Carolina RailHawks on August 14. Since then, Mike Anhaeuser’s side have had over a week to prepare for a challenging three-game road trip to the Pacific Northwest, with Charleston facing Portland Timbers on Thursday before visiting the Whitecaps on Saturday. The Battery conclude the trip at USL-1 leaders Seattle Sounders on Sunday before completing their regular season with games at Miami FC on September 2 and at home to Puerto Rico Islanders on September 7. Despite their struggles this season, Charleston have quality players in their line-up. Strikers Byron Alvarez and Aaron King are capable of scoring goals, while recent loan signing Andre Toussaint has added a spark to the Battery attack. Midfielder Stephen Armstrong, meanwhile, remains a threat both on set pieces and with his ability to shot from long range. There is also plenty of Canadian flavour in the Charleston squad that will be familiar to Whitecaps fans. Former Whitecaps player and Canadian international Mark Watson is Anhaeuser’s assistant, while Burnaby native Gordie Chin had a previous spell with Vancouver in 2003. Another BC player in Victoria’s Jordie Hughes is in his second season with the Battery after completing an NCAA college career with Coastal Carolina University. “They have two dangerous forwards in Alvarez and King, and a very good playmaker in Lazo Alavanja,” Wawrousek said of Charleston. “For us, we know we need to have a lot of the ball in order to do well against them. We’ve also been thinking about our defensive organizational schemes and how we are going to create mobility in attack.” For the Whitecaps, things are brightening up on the injury and suspension front. Captain Jeff Clarke will be available after sitting out the Montreal game for picking up five yellow cards, while striker Eddy Sebrango is nearing full fitness after a long spell on the sidelines with a leg injury. With Adrian Cann and Steve Klein back to anchor Vancouver’s defensive backline, Lilley’s side can feel confident of ending a record 12-game winless streak against the Battery. “It’s fair to say Eddy’s going to be available,” Wawrousek said of Sebrango. “It’s been very encouraging to see what he’s been able to do this week, so it’s just a matter of how much he will be a part of things on Saturday. Sebrango is a player that really understands attacking movement very well, both for himself and his teammates. If you were to recount some of the goals he scored in the early part of the season, a lot of them were attributable to him getting into good areas.” Saturday’s game at Swangard Stadium kicks off at 7:00 p.m. and is a Wendy’s Family Night. This includes four Whitecaps tickets and two Wendy’s Kids Meals vouchers - starting at only $48! Single game tickets start at just $16 and are available by calling Ticketmaster at 604.280.4400 or by visiting whitecapsfc.com. For more information on Whitecaps ticket packages and group rates, please call 604.669.WAVE (9283) or visit our tickets page. You can also watch Saturday’s game between the Whitecaps and Charleston live on USLlive.com or on Shaw Cable. Check your local listings for time and availability. You can also listen to the game live on TEAM 1040 radio or via the internet on team1040.ca.