Preview: Whitecaps FC host Columbus Crew

'Caps take on Black and Gold in second match of MLS season

VANCOUVER, BC – In their second match of the 2013 MLS regular season, Vancouver Whitecaps FC (1W-0L-0D) are set to face Columbus Crew (1W-0L-0D) in their only matchup this season, as the Eastern Conference side come to BC Place this coming Saturday, March 9 at BC Place.

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Saturday's match between Whitecaps FC and Columbus Crew kicks off at 4:30 p.m. PT and is live on Sportsnet Pacific, Bell mobile devices and MLS LIVE (live.mlssoccer.com). 'Caps fans can also listen to Saturday afternoon’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.

After defeating Canadian rivals Toronto FC 1-0 last weekend in their 38th home opener in club history, Whitecaps FC will look to continue their winning ways against Columbus. The ‘Caps now hold a 20W-13L-4D record in home openers and have not lost a home opener since 2001. This will be the Crew’s first ever visit to BC Place.
 
WHITECAPS FC
 
The 'Caps began their 2013 campaign with a 1-0 victory over Toronto FC last Saturday in front of a sell-out crowd of 21,000 energetic fans at BC Place. Midfielder Gershon Koffie was named Budweiser Man of the Match for his solid performance, which included the match-winning goal, with assists coming from attacking midfielder Daigo Kobayashi and right back Young-Pyo Lee on a pretty passing play. Midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker also made his debut for the ‘Caps when he came on for fellow debutant and 2013 MLS SuperDraft pick Kekuta Manneh as a second-half substitution. The London, England native appeared calm and collected on the ball and was a key to the 'Caps energized attack in the second half.
 
The task at hand for Whitecaps FC this Saturday will be to continue their winning start to the 2013 season against a talented attacking squad in the form of Columbus Crew. The ‘Caps will aim to start Saturday’s match where they left off in the second half last week, with cohesion and unity leading to offensive success and victory. Should they get the start together, Koffie and Reo-Coker look as if they will provide a solid foundation in the midfield as they hope to continue their successes from last match.
 
Head coach Martin Rennie and his squad will be without captain Jay DeMerit indefinitely as he had successful surgery for a torn left Achilles tendon this past Monday. The absence of DeMerit will likely see centre back Brad Rusin earn his first start for Whitecaps FC, as he performed strongly after replacing DeMerit in the 7th minute of Saturday’s clean sheet.
 

COLUMBUS CREW

A new look Columbus Crew are coming off of an impressive 3-0 win against Western Conference side Chivas USA. The first half featured many chances for both sides, but the goals did not come until the second half, when Federico Higuaín, Josh Williams and Dominic Oduro scored for the Crew.

The Black and Gold will be looking to maintain the same attacking tempo which they displayed against Chivas last weekend, looking every bit a formidable challenger in the Eastern Conference this season.
 
Midfielder and Designated Player Federico Higuaín, brother of Real Madrid star striker Gonzalo Higuaín, will look to continue his dominance in MLS play as he comes to play in Vancouver for the first time. Since joining Columbus late last year, the Argentine maestro has scored six goals and recorded seven assists in only 14 matches.
 
Complementing Higuaín is Oduro, who could prove a valuable addition for the Crew in the goalscoring department. The speedy Ghanaian striker was traded to the Crew after spending the 2011 and 2012 seasons with Chicago Fire.
 
If the 'Caps are to defeat the Crew, they will need to keep close tabs on Higuaín's long-range striking ability and Oduro's quickness on the counterattack.
 
 
HEAD-TO-HEAD
 
Saturday’s match is the fifth all-time match between the two clubs, with Vancouver holding a 2W-2L-0D record against the Black and Gold - including one preseason match in 2011. In MLS play, the 'Caps and Crew have met three times, with Whitecaps FC having a 1W-2L-0D record.
 
In their last meeting, Whitecaps FC defeated Columbus Crew by a score of 1-0 . Young-Pyo Lee scored the only goal for the ‘Caps in the Blue and White’s lone clash against the Crew in the 2012 MLS regular season.
 
 
In 2011, Whitecaps FC faced Columbus Crew three times, including one preseason match and two MLS regular season matches, and held a record of 1W-2D-0D against the Crew.
 
There is also some regional history between the two clubs, as Whitecaps FC hold a 7W-2L-2D record against Ohio state clubs. This includes being undefeated against Ohio-based teams while the ‘Caps were in the United Soccer Leagues First Division (USL-1).
 
Also of note, Whitecaps FC striker Tommy Heinemann will face his former team for the first time since leaving Columbus after last season and joining the ‘Caps in January.
 
NEXT UP
 
Following this weekend’s clash against Columbus Crew, Whitecaps FC will head to Victoria next weekend to face University of Victoria Vikes in a friendly at UVic’s Centennial Stadium on March 16. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. PT. The match will be streamed live at http://UVic.canadawest.tv.
 
Whitecaps FC return to MLS action with a road match on March 23 against Houston Dynamo at BBVA Compass Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. PT and is live on Sportsnet Pacific. Caps fans can also listen to the match live on TEAM 1410 radio and teamradio.ca.