Whitecaps FC prepare for lone regular season meeting with New England Revolution

'Caps put winning run on the line at New England Revolution

Looking to continue their winning ways in the month of May, Vancouver Whitecaps FC (5W-2L-2D) travel east for their lone Major League Soccer regular season meeting with Eastern Conference side New England Revolution (3W-6L-0D) on Saturday evening.

Currently in the best run of form since becoming an MLS club last year, Martin Rennie’s side will look to extend their winning streak in the league to four matches and six games in all competitions when they visit New England this weekend. The ‘Caps take on a new-look Revolution side that have struggled for form in recent weeks after decent start to their 2012 campaign.

Saturday’s match between Whitecaps FC and New England Revolution from Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, kicks off at 4:30 p.m. PT and is live on Sportsnet ONE and Bell mobile devices. 'Caps fans can also listen to Saturday’s match live on TEAM 1410 radio and teamradio.ca, starting with the pre-game show at 2:30 p.m. PT. TEAM 1410 will also have a two-hour post-game show, which will begin following the match at around 6:30 p.m. PT. Fans can also follow Saturday’s match on Twitter @WhitecapsMatch.

WHITECAPS FC

Three matches into this very busy month of May, Whitecaps FC may not mind that games are coming thick and fast at present, as Rennie’s squad have formed a winning habit in the last few weeks. Wednesday’s win over FC Edmonton in the Amway Canadian Championship meant two more matches were added to this month’s schedule, meaning the ‘Caps will have played eight games in all competitions before June 1. Yet, Vancouver’s ability to find the back of the net may be starting to pay dividends at a crucial time.

One of the most encouraging things to come from the midweek result over Edmonton was the return to action of goalscorers Darren Mattocks and Etienne Barbara. While their appearances were brief on Wednesday night, the strikers’ efforts left many pondering what their contribution might be for the rest of the season. With a near full strength squad to choose from, Rennie has some decisions to make, as he looks to manage his talented side through this crucial spell of the campaign. This weekend’s match may well offer more glimpses of the depth Vancouver possess in 2012.

Whitecaps FC are without goalkeeper Brian Sylvestre (knee) for Saturday’s match, while striker Atiba Harris (quad) is listed as questionable.

REVOLUTION

Playing seven of their next nine league matches at home, New England are keen to find some form following a run of four defeats in five league games. Led by rookie head coach and former Revolution defender Jay Heaps, the Massachusetts outfit can take comfort in the knowledge that they have never lost to a Canadian-based MLS club since Toronto FC’s inaugural league season of 2007 (5W-0L-2D). Heaps’ squad includes veterans, influential talents, and promising new additions.

Like Whitecaps FC’s Joe Cannon, Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis is in his 15th season in MLS, while captain Shalrie Joseph is a highly influential central midfielder. Benny Feilhaber is considered one of American soccer’s most gifted midfield players, while United States youth international Kelyn Rowe was the third overall pick in this year’s MLS SuperDraft after a stellar NCAA Division I career at UCLA. Of the many new faces to arrive in New England this season, French striker Saer Sene has made the biggest impact. The former Bayern Munich player currently leads the Revolution in goals (three) and assists (two).

New England are without several players for this weekend’s visit of Vancouver. They include defender Flo Lechner (metatarsal fracture), midfielders Ryan Guy (calf) and Sainey Nyassi (hamstring), and the forward trio of Zak Boggs (ankle), Jose Moreno (calf), and Jeremiah White (concussion).

HEAD-TO-HEAD

Saturday’s match will be the third all-time meeting between Whitecaps FC and New England Revolution, with both clubs first meeting in MLS last season. Their inaugural encounter at Empire Field on April 6, 2011, was an eventful contest, as New England earned a very late 1-1 draw in a match that saw Whitecaps FC finish with nine men and the Revolution with ten men after referee Baldomero Toledo issued three red cards in the match. Eric Hassli opened the scoring with a second-half penalty before Ilija Stolica equalized deep into stoppage time at the end of the game for New England. The Revolution won the last encounter with Whitecaps FC on May 14, 2011, as an early second-half penalty from Revolution captain Shalrie Joseph earned New England all three points at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts.

Prior to joining MLS, Whitecaps FC's history of playing clubs from the state of Massachusetts saw them register a 1W-2L-0D record in the old North American Soccer League. This included a win and a defeat at home to Boston Minutemen in 1974 and 1975, as well as a 2-0 away defeat to New England Tea Men in Foxborough, Massachusetts, in 1978.

There are several player connections between both clubs. Whitecaps FC goalkeeper Brad Knighton started his MLS career with New England, where he was a member of the Revolution from 2007 to 2009. Revolution midfielder Lee Nguyen, meanwhile, was with Whitecaps FC in preseason after joining the Blue and White via the MLS weighted Lottery process on December 15, 2011. Nguyen was then waived by Vancouver before New England selected the United States international in the league’s Waiver Draft on March 2. ‘Caps youngster Omar Salgado and Revolution defender Kevin Alston were part of the league’s ‘Generation adidas’ tour to the Netherlands in December 2011. New England’s Benny Feilhaber was teammates with ‘Caps defender/midfielder Jordan Harvey at UCLA, while the midfielder and Vancouver captain Jay DeMerit were members of the United States squad at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.

NEXT UP: CANADIAN CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL

Whitecaps FC will return home from this weekend’s trip to New England and prepare for the first leg of this year’s Amway Canadian Championship (ACC) final versus MLS rivals and Voyageurs Cup holders Toronto FC on Wednesday night. Kickoff from Bell Pitch at BC Place is set for 7 p.m. PT. Individual match tickets start at $20, plus applicable service charges, and are available at all Ticketmaster Ticket Centres, online at ticketmaster.ca, and Charge-by-Phone at 1.855.6.GO-CAPS (1.855.646.2277). CLICK HERE for more information on Whitecaps FC tickets.

Whitecaps FC's ACC final, first leg, versus Toronto FC can also be seen live on Sportsnet ONE at 7 p.m. PT. 'Caps fans can also listen to Wednesday’s match live on TEAM 1410 radio and teamradio.ca, starting with the pre-game show at 5 p.m. PT. TEAM 1410 will also have a two-hour post-game show, which will begin following the match at around 9 p.m. PT. Fans can also follow Wednesday’s match on Twitter @WhitecapsMatch.

Whitecaps FC are pleased to announce that three new match packs for the 2012 season are now on sale. Starting at the affordable price of $119, match packs include five Major League Soccer regular season matches and offer significant savings over individual match prices. To purchase your match pack, call 604.669.9283 ext. 3, or email sales@whitecapsfc.com. For additional information on match packs, visit whitecapsfc.com/match-packs.