Preview: Whitecaps FC set to kick off important road trip at FC Dallas

WFC and Dallas level on points in Western Conference

VANCOUVER, BC – Vancouver Whitecaps FC (10W-9L-7D) are off to Frisco, Texas this Saturday for an important Western Conference encounter with FC Dallas (9W-7L-10D).

Kickoff for Saturday's match between FC Dallas and Whitecaps FC is set for 5:30 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 3:30 p.m. PT. TEAM 1410 will also have a two-hour post-game show, which will begin following the match.

There will be a lot on the line Saturday at FC Dallas Stadium, as both sides look to strengthen their playoff chances. With 37 points apiece, Vancouver and Dallas currently sit sixth and seventh respectively in the immensely competitive Western Conference. A win could jolt either side up to fourth place, with a loss potentially dropping them down to eighth place.

Saturday's contest will be the third and final meeting between FC Dallas and Whitecaps FC this season. The ‘Caps are yet to beat the Red Stripes this season, as they lost their last match in Dallas 2-0 and drew 2-2 in the second half of the home and home series in April.

Last match: Whitecaps FC 2-2 Chivas USA

WHITECAPS FC

The ‘Caps are coming off a thrilling match at BC Place, in which they battled back from an early 2-0 deficit against Chivas USA to secure a share of the points through an injury-time equalizer from Tommy Heinemann.

In front of a boisterous home crowd of 18,767, the Blue and White conceded two goals in the first 15 minutes of the match. Chivas striker Erick Torres scored the MLS Goal of the Week in the early barrage of goals.

However, Whitecaps FC dominated the second half and a goal by Gershon Koffie shifted the momentum in favour of home team. Heinemann then capped off the comeback by tapping home the ball off an Erik Hurtado header across the face of goal.

Whitecaps FC head coach Martin Rennie will hope to get his side back on track this weekend against an FC Dallas team that is winless in their last five home matches with a 0W-1L-4D record.

This weekend, Rennie will once again have the services of midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker, who was suspended September 1 against Chivas USA due to caution accumulation. The Englishman is expected to slide right back into the starting lineup to provide a much-needed boost to the ‘Caps for the final quarter of the MLS regular season.

They could also receive a boost from the return of captain Jay DeMerit, who is on the squad's travelling roster. The 33-year-old centre back played 70 minutes in a scrimmage with the UBC Thunderbirds two weeks ago and is close to full speed after rupturing his Achilles tendon in Vancouver’s regular season opener March 2 against Toronto FC.

On the other hand, the ‘Caps will certainly be without Russell Teibert and Darren Mattocks, who are both away on international duty, as well as centre back Brad Rusin (right ankle sprain) and winger/striker Omar Salgado (right foot fracture).

FC DALLAS

It's been a rough couple of months for FC Dallas, as they have managed just one win in their last 10 matches, posting a 1W-4L-5D record along the way. A little more puzzling is the fact that they have been struggling at home – though they still boast a 7W-1L-5D record at FC Dallas Stadium.

However, things may be starting to pick up, as they clawed back to force a hard-fought 2-2 draw at home against the gritty San Jose Earthquakes on August 24. The match had a similar feel to that of Vancouver’s recent outing.

San Jose jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead in the first 16 minutes of the contest. However, FC Dallas showed some tremendous resiliency by staying calm and pulling off the dramatic comeback through goals from Blas Perez, who is currently tied for fifth in MLS scoring, and Michel. It was an important point for FC Dallas, who like Whitecaps FC, remain two points back of fourth place in the Western Conference.  

FC Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman has some tough decisions to make this week, as two of his most proficient strikers as well as his starting goalkeeper are unavailable for selection. Perez, who has scored a team-high 10 goals this season, and goalkeeper Raul Fernandez are both away on international duty, while Kenny Cooper will be the serving the first game of the two-match suspension he picked up in Dallas’ last outing.

Potential options to replace the attacking duo include former Whitecaps FC striker Eric Hassli, who is recovering from an ongoing lower back issue, and Homegrown striker Jonathan Top, who has yet to see any minutes this season. Top scored his lone career goal in a 2-0 win over Vancouver last August.

Like Hassli, midfielder Andrew Jacobson could also be back in the lineup after lingering hamstring strain that has kept him out of the last three matches.

April 27, 2013: Whitecaps FC 2 - 2 FC Dallas

HEAD-TO-HEAD

This Saturday’s matchup will be the eighth all-time meeting between FC Dallas and Whitecaps FC in MLS regular season competition. The ‘Caps haven’t fared well against their Western Conference rivals, posting a 1W-5L-1D record overall. They are also winless in three road matches.

In their previous meeting, Whitecaps FC and FC Dallas played to a 2-2 draw April 27 at BC Place. Kekuta Manneh and Camilo Sanvezzo scored two second half goals to cap off a thrilling comeback for the Blue and White.

Among the player connections, Whitecaps FC fullback Jordan Harvey and goalkeeper Brad Knighton were teammates with FC Dallas midfielder Andrew Jacobson and goalkeeper Chris Seitz during Philadelphia Union’s inaugural MLS season in 2010. Whitecaps FC centre back Andy O'Brien and FC Dallas midfielder Ramon Nunez were also teammates at English club Leeds United from 2010 to 2012.

Hassli, meanwhile, was Vancouver’s first-ever Designated Player and scored the club’s first goal in MLS. Last July, Hassli was traded to Toronto FC for a first-round selection in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft.

NEXT UP

Saturday’s Western Conference clash with FC Dallas kicks off a three-match road trip for Whitecaps FC. The Blue and White will then travel to San Jose on September 14 (kickoff set for 7:30 p.m. PST at Buck Shaw Stadium) and Montreal on September 21 before hosting first-place Real Salt Lake September 28 at BC Place.