Preview: Whitecaps FC host San Jose Earthquakes in second of three meetings this season

'Caps focused on earning three points in tight Western Conference

VANCOUVER, BC – Coming off of a crucial 1-1 draw in their Cascadia Cup battle in Portland last weekend, Vancouver Whitecaps FC (9W-7L-6D) next host San Jose Earthquakes (8W-9L-6D) in yet another important Western Conference battle this coming Saturday, August 10, at BC Place.

Saturday's match between Whitecaps FC and San Jose Earthquakes kicks off at 4:30 p.m. PT and is live on TSN 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. The match night sponsor for Saturday's game is BC Hydro.

Tickets are still available for Saturday's important match at ticketmaster.ca/whitecapsfc

Every match from here on out is vital in the ever-tight fight for playoff spots in the Western Conference, as only eight points separate eighth-place San Jose from first-place Real Salt Lake.

WHITECAPS FC

The 'Caps go into this weekend's tilt with morale high from a hard-fought point earned against Portland Timbers last Saturday. Over 750 fans made the trip from Vancouver as a Jordan Harvey equalizer on 69 minutes saw the 'Caps share the spoils with their Cascadia Cup rivals.

Last match: Portland Timbers 1-1 Whitecaps FC

Martin Rennie's boys will also be keen to restore order to their home fortress after suffering their first defeat at BC Place last time out after playing more than 80 minutes down a man to Philadelphia Union on July 27. Vancouver have one of the best home records in the league at 7W-1L-3D.

This week has seen a pair of personnel moves for Whitecaps FC. Striker Corey Hertzog was sent on loan to FC Edmonton for the North American Soccer League (NASL) Fall season. Centre back Andy O'Brien, meanwhile, signed a one-year contract extension until the end of the 2014 season.

There will be some returning faces to the ‘Caps this weekend, as midfielders Jun Marques Davidson and Gershon Koffie will be eligible to play following their one-match suspensions. The Blue and White could also be boosted by the return of striker Kenny Miller, who was back at full training this week but is listed as questionable for Saturday

O’Brien could also be in contention for minutes, as the Irish international took part in full training with the team this week. The no-nonsense defender has missed the past nine matches due to a pulled hamstring.

Although one centre back may return, another will be out as Brad Rusin suffered a sprained right ankle against Portland. That will likely mean a second consecutive start for Carlyle Mitchell, who has done well this season in wins over Chivas USA and D.C. United, and last week's draw in Portland.

Also on the injury front, Rennie’s side will be missing striker Darren Mattocks, who recently had knee surgery, and winger Omar Salgado, who is still recovering from a right foot fracture. Captain Jay DeMerit (ruptured Achilles tendon) is listed as questionable, but is unlikely to feature this week.

SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES

The Earthquakes’ most recent action was a 1-0 defeat to Montreal Impact this past Wednesday at Stade Saputo in their first match of the 2013 CONCACAF Champions League.

In their last MLS match, San Jose defeated a 10-man Chivas USA by a score of 2-0 at Buck Shaw Stadium to extend their winning streak to three matches. The Earthquakes were led by striker Chris Wondolowski, who returned from winning the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup with the United States men’s national team to score both goals in the win. It was a triumphant return for last year’s MLS Golden Boot winner, who scored 27 goals over 32 matches in the 2012 season, but had not scored since May 8 going into last Saturday’s California clash.

Last MLS match: San Jose Earthquakes 2-0 Chivas USA

Alan Gordon and Steven Lenhart are also still looking to return to their 2012 form when the duo combined for 23 goals, scoring 13 and 10 goals respectively. On defence, the Earthquakes have Honduran men’s national team defender Victor Bernárdez leading the way.

Injury wise, the Quakes will be without Nana Attakora (concussion related symptoms), Mike Fucito (R ankle fracture), Ty Harden (R hip surgery), and Tommy Muller (Lower back spasms). The team may also be without Dan Gargan (R adductor strain) and Walter Martinez (L hamstring strain), who were both listed as questionable last weekend and did not factor into the match against the Goats.

HEAD-TO-HEAD

Saturday’s tilt will be the seventh all time meeting between the two sides in MLS action. Whitecaps FC hold a 2W-1L-3D overall record and an undefeated 1W-0L-1D record at home against the Earthquakes.

In their last meeting, the Blue and White drew 1-1 with San Jose on April 6 at Buck Shaw Stadium, a match in Hertzog scored his first career MLS goal.

April 6, 2013: San Jose Earthquakes 1-1 Whitecaps FC

Prior to joining MLS in 2011, Vancouver played San Jose's MLS club three times as a North American second division club. Vancouver fell 3-1 to San Jose Clash in Abbotsford, BC, on June 14, 1998, and then suffered a 3-1 defeat to the re-named Earthquakes at Burnaby’s Swangard Stadium on August 14, 2001. San Jose also beat the 'Caps by a score of 4-3 in a high-scoring friendly at Swangard on September 1, 2003.

There is also plenty of history between Vancouver and San Jose dating back to the original North American Soccer League (NASL) days. Between 1974 and 1984, Whitecaps FC registered 14 wins and 11 defeats in 25 meetings versus the Earthquakes, with the 'Caps registering eight victories and four losses at home during that time.

A major connection between the two clubs is that Earthquakes interim head coach Mark Watson, a native of Vancouver who made 17 appearances for Whitecaps FC in 2005 while also playing for the club when they were known as Vancouver 86ers from 1993 to 1994. Another coaching connection lies with assistant coach Nick Dasovic, who spent time as a player-coach with the ‘Caps from 2002 to 2005. During his time with the Blue and White, Dasovic made 81 appearances for the club. Whitecaps FC goalkeeper Joe Cannon, a native of the Bay Area, spent a large portion of his MLS career with San Jose before the 'Caps selected him in the 2010 MLS Expansion Draft. On the other side of the field is San Jose winger Shea Salinas, who made 26 appearances for Whitecaps FC in the club's inaugural MLS season in 2011.

NEXT UP

After this match, Whitecaps FC head to Rocky Mountain country on Saturday, August 17, to face Colorado Rapids in Commerce City, Colorado. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. PT at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.