Preview: Whitecaps FC looking to leapfrog Real Salt Lake in Western Conference standings
SANDY, UTAH – After a midweek draw with Toronto FC at BMO Field, Vancouver Whitecaps FC (6W-4L-8D) are right back at it this weekend in an important Western Conference showdown with Real Salt Lake (7W-4L-7D).
Kickoff for Saturday’s match is set for 7 p.m. PT at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah. You can watch the match live on TSN, Bell mobile devices, and TSN GO. The match will also air live on TEAM 1410 and teamradio.ca, starting with the pre-game show at 5 p.m. PT. TEAM 1410 will also have a two-hour post-game show immediately following the match.
Though Whitecaps FC enter Saturday’s contest sixth in the Western Conference, they trail second-place Real Salt Lake by just two points – meaning a win could move them up to as high as second place, depending on the results of the weekend’s other fixtures.
VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC
Last match: Toronto FC 1-1 Vancouver Whitecaps FC
Saturday’s match will be Vancouver’s third in the last week alone and sixth in a four-and-a-half week period since Major League Soccer’s World Cup break.
Most recently, Whitecaps FC earned a hard-fought 1-1 road draw with Toronto FC earlier this week. The visiting ‘Caps took a 1-0 lead in the 50th minute when Darren Mattocks banged in a pinpoint Russell Teibert pass, before in-form Designated Player Jermain Defoe equalized through a 64th-minute penalty.
The result maintained Vancouver’s .500 record away from home (2W-2L-5D) – a record they will be looking to improve upon this weekend at Real Salt Lake. And if the ‘Caps are to come away with a result on Saturday, chances are Pedro Morales will have a say in it.
The first-year Designated Player, who now has assists in three straight matches, has either scored or assisted on half of Vancouver’s 28 goals this season. With eight assists, Morales is just one shy of the club record jointly held by Teibert and former Whitecaps FC midfielder Davide Chiumiento and two back of current league-leader Thierry Henry.
REAL SALT LAKE
Last match: LA Galaxy 1-0 Real Salt Lake
As it stands, Real Salt Lake sit second in the Western Conference with 28 points from their first 18 matches. The Royals got off to an impressive start, going undefeated in their first 11 matches. But since then, they have just one win in their last seven regular season outings.
It should be noted, however, that Real Salt Lake had been missing captain Kyle Beckerman and starting goalkeeper Nick Rimando, who were away with the U.S. men’s national team at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
The two players returned to the lineup on July 4 in a 2-1 win over New England Revolution, but the Royals are still without striker Alvaro Saborio, who is expected to miss another two to three months with a fractured right foot.
Saborio is an important piece for Real Salt Lake, but they still have plenty of firepower up front. The two players to watch are Joao Plata, who leads the team with seven goals, and midfielder Javier Morales, who has five goals and five assists and leads MLS with 62 chances created.
April 26, 2014: Real Salt Lake 2-2 Vancouver Whitecaps FC
This will be the second of three meetings between Whitecaps FC and Real Salt Lake this season. The first was back on April 26, also at Rio Tinto Stadium.
In that game, Real Salt Lake took a 2-0 lead in the first 10 minutes before the ‘Caps scored two late goals to salvage a point. Uruguayans Nicolas Mezquida and Sebastian Fernandez provided the scoring for Whitecaps FC – Mezquida buried his first MLS goal in the 86th minute before Fernandez equalized with a long-range strike in stoppage time.
Saturday’s contest will be the 10th all-time meeting between Whitecaps FC and RSL. The ‘Caps have had mixed results against the Royals, posting a 2W-4L-3D record overall. Both Vancouver’s victories came at BC Place in 2011 and 2012 respectively.
The ‘Caps return to BC Place next Sunday, July 27 for an afternoon affair against Western Conference rival FC Dallas. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. PT and tickets 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 prorated season tickets, 5-packs, 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.