Preview: Whitecaps FC set for 'another tough test' against undefeated Real Salt Lake
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VANCOUVER, BC – Vancouver Whitecaps FC (2W-2L-3D) are in for “another tough test” this weekend, when they visit an always-tough Real Salt Lake (3W-0L-4D) side on Saturday evening at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Kickoff for Saturday’s match is set for 6:30 p.m. PT. You can watch the match live on CTV2 BC (refer to table for channel listings or CLICK HERE for a complete list in Canada), Bell mobile devices, and free online at TSN.ca. The match will also be joined in progress on TSN2.
TEAM 1410 radio and teamradio.ca will air the full match, starting with the pre-game show at 4:30 p.m. PT. Following the match, TEAM 1410 will have a two-hour post-game show.
Whitecaps FC fans are invited to watch the match at the Official Whitecaps FC Viewing Party at the Black Bear Neighbourhood Pub (1177 Lynn Valley Road, North Vancouver). Festivities will get underway at 5:30 p.m. PT.
VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC
Highlights: Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2-2 LA Galaxy
The ‘Caps are coming off a home-and-home series with LA Galaxy, in which they fell 1-0 in Carson, California, before earning a point in an entertaining 2-2 draw last weekend at BC Place.
Down 1-0 at the half, Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson brought on Kekuta Manneh and Johnny Leveron in the 45th minute and then Erik Hurtado in the 65th minute. Shortly later, the ‘Caps drew even with a goal from Jamaican international Darren Mattocks.
After the Galaxy took their second lead of the game 10 minutes later, Vancouver battled back again – this time on the strength of a stunning Manneh strike in the 86th minute. The goal is one of five nominees for MLS Goal of the Week.
With his assist on the goal, Mattocks now leads Whitecaps FC with three helpers this season. He and Manneh are also tied for second on the team with two goals apiece – one behind Kenny Miller.
The ‘Caps started with a diamond midfield formation against the Galaxy, but had most of their success in the second half with a more traditional 4-4-2. The week before, Robinson fielded a 4-2-3-1 formation on the road at LA, which gives him a few different options to choose from this weekend against RSL – a team known for their use of the diamond midfield.
"The system is ingrained in them," said Robinson. "They understand their roles and responsibilities, but in football you have to give up something whether it's the central part of the field or the width. Obviously, they're willing to give up the width and try to dominant the central part of the field. So we have to sit down as coaches, talk to the players, and decide which way we're going to go."
The 'Caps might be without midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker this weekend, as he missed training on Thursday with the flu, according to Robinson. The Englishman hasn't played since Vancouver's scoreless draw with New England Revolution on March 22.
As it stands, Whitecaps FC occupy fifth place in the Western Conference with nine points – four points behind third-place Real Salt Lake.
REAL SALT LAKE
Highlights: Real Salt Lake 1-0 Portland Timbers
With a 3W-0L-4D record, Real Salt Lake enter Saturday’s contest as the lone undefeated team in Major League Soccer.
Last weekend, a late goal from Ned Grabavoy gave RSL a 1-0 victory over Portland Timbers at Rio Tinto Stadium. It was RSL’s fourth clean sheet of the season and goalkeeper Nick Rimando was rewarded with MLS Player of the Week honours. With 111 career clean sheets, Rimando is now just one back of all-time MLS leader Kevin Hartman.
At the other end of the park, striker Alvaro Saborio leads RSL with three goals this season, while three separate players have two assists: Javier Morales, Joao Plata, and U.S. national team midfielder Kyle Beckerman.
RSL finished second in the Western Conference last season and qualified for the MLS Cup finals, before falling in penalty kicks to Sporting Kansas City.
Saturday’s contest will be the ninth all-time meeting between Whitecaps FC and RSL – and first of three meetings this season.
The ‘Caps have had mixed results against the Royals, posting a 2W-4L-2D record overall. Both Vancouver’s victories came at BC Place in 2011 and 2012 respectively.
RSL gave Vancouver some problems last season, posting a 2W-0L-1D record. The two teams drew their first meeting, before RSL took six points from the last two – outscoring the Blue and White 3-0 in the process.
The ‘Caps are back at BC Place next Saturday, May 3 for the club’s 40th anniversary match, presented by Bell, against Western Conference rival San Jose Earthquakes. Vancouver and San Jose played their inaugural match almost 40 years to the day, on May 5, 1974.
It’s not too late to participate in the best sporting experience in Vancouver. Whitecaps FC offer a flexible range of ticket products, including half-season tickets ($244), 5-packs ($149), student season tickets ($199), and a youth soccer half-season ticket ($100). Single-match tickets start at $22, subject to applicable fees. For more information on all Whitecaps FC ticket options, call 604.669.9283 ext. 2 or visit whitecapsfc.com/tickets.