Preview: Whitecaps FC return to MLS action Saturday against Eastern Conference outfit Columbus Crew

'Caps and Crew set for lone meeting this season

VANCOUVER, BC – After a midweek Amway Canadian Championship fixture, Vancouver Whitecaps FC (3W-2L-4D) return to Major League Soccer action this weekend when they visit Eastern Conference side Columbus Crew (3W-3L-3D).

Kickoff for Saturday’s match is set for 4:30 p.m. PT at Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. You can watch the match live on TSN, Bell mobile devices, and on TSN GO. The match will also air live on TEAM 1410 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 immediately following the match.

Both teams played on Wednesday, though Vancouver fielded a youthful side in a hard-fought 2-1 loss to star-studded Toronto FC. Not one of Whitecaps FC’s starters from their last MLS fixture started the match.

The ‘Caps have one more point than Columbus heading into Saturday’s contest.

VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC

Highlights: Whitecaps FC 3-2 San Jose Earthquakes

Vancouver’s last MLS match was a 3-2 victory over San Jose Earthquakes last weekend at BC Place. On a day that Whitecaps FC celebrated the 40th anniversary of their first-ever match, the ‘Caps came out of the gate flying and scored three goals in the first 20 minutes.

Second-year winger/striker Kekuta Manneh, who made his second straight start and third of the season, opened the scoring before Designated Player Pedro Morales bagged a brace in less than a minute.

San Jose’s Chris Wondolowski found the back of the net at the end of each half but the ‘Caps held on for their third win of the season. The ‘Caps are now undefeated in their last three MLS matches, scoring seven goals over that period.

With their goals last weekend, Manneh and Morales are now tied for the team-lead with three goals apiece. With his goal in Wednesday’s Canadian Championship match, Manneh has three goals in his last four matches in all competitions.

Saturday’s contest will be Vancouver’s first MLS match without Kenny Miller, who had appeared in each of the team’s nine matches this season. It was announced on May 4 that Miller and Whitecaps FC had mutually agreed to terminate his contract, which was slated to expire at the end of June.

With Miller gone and Mattocks sidelined with a hamstring injury, it’s possible that Omar Salgado could make his first MLS appearance of the season for Whitecaps FC on Saturday. The 6-foot-4, 210-pound striker recorded two goals and one assist in five appearances with USL PRO side Charleston Battery to start the season, before being recalled from loan this week.

Salgado, who impressed in a substitutes role on Wednesday against Toronto FC, made his first career start and scored his first goal against the Crew back on April 30, 2011.

COLUMBUS CREW

Highlights: Houston Dynamo 1-0 Columbus Crew

After opening the season with three straight victories, things have taken a drastic turn for the Crew over the last month or so. The Ohio outfit are winless in six matches since their hot start, though three of those results were 1-1 draws.

Their most recent outing was a 1-0 loss to Houston Dynamo on Wednesday. The visiting Crew outshot Houston by a 18-11 margin and controlled 55.6 per cent of the possession, but an early second-half goal from Dynamo striker Will Bruin proved to be the difference.

That was the second straight match Columbus has been unable to find the scoresheet, after suffering a 2-0 loss to Sporting Kansas City last weekend.

Rookie MLS manager Gregg Berhalter will be pleased to welcome back holding midfielder Wil Trapp this weekend against Vancouver. The 21-year-old, who has been one of Berhalter’s most consistent players this season, missed the Crew’s midweek match due to suspension. Trapp leads the league with 64.75 successful passes per game this season.

Argentine midfielder Federico Higuain, who leads the team with four goals, is fourth in that category with an average of 55.56 successful passes per game.

On the injury front, midfielder Hector Jimenez missed Wednesday’s match with a calf strain and is listed as questionable for this weekend.  

HEAD-TO-HEAD

Saturday’s contest will be the fifth all-time meeting between Columbus and Vancouver in MLS. Each team has posted a 2W-2L-0D record thus far, but Vancouver has won the last two meetings. 

NEXT UP

After a full week on the road, Whitecaps FC return to Vancouver next week for the second leg of the Amway Canadian Championship semifinal against Toronto FC. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. PT on Wednesday, May 14 at BC Place.

Vancouver’s next MLS match is at home on May 24, when they host rival Seattle Sounders FC in the first Cascadia match of 2014. Tickets for both matches are still available at whitecapsfc.com/tickets.

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, and a youth soccer half-season ticket. 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.