By BOB MACKIN
- THE BUZZ:
The Vancouver Whitecaps need to start the second half of the schedule with a Saturday surge at Swangard Stadium when they host the Puerto Rico Islanders (7 p.m. Shaw TV/www.usllive.com).
- NEED WINS:
The eighth-place Whitecaps (5-7-3) have just two United Soccer Leagues' First Division wins since June 12. Vancouver has played the fewest games in the league (15) and has five in-hand over the second-place Islanders (9-4-7).
- ADD IT UP:
Islander Cristian Arrieta is one of two USL players with seven goals. Ex-Whitecap Nick Addlery has four. The Whitecaps are led by strikers Charles Gbeke (five) and Marlon James (four).
- NASH NOSH:
"Puerto Rico are a very deep team, they're always a tough game home or away, that's why they're consistently at the top of the table," said Caps' captain Martin Nash. "A very well-coached team."
The Islanders are Puerto Rico's entry to the 2009-2010 CONCACAF Champions League and visit Toronto FC Wednesday. The second leg is Aug. 4 in Puerto Rico. The Whitecaps should be playing, but the Montreal Impact allowed Toronto to win 6-1 on June 18 and take the three-team Canadian tourney.
- SEASON SERIES:
The Whitecaps lost 2-1 on April 18 in Puerto Rico, but Gbeke, with help from Wes Knight, gave the Caps a 1-0 May 10 win at Swangard. Gbeke scored twice in the 2-1 First Division final win on Oct. 12, 2008.
- ON THE ROAD AGAIN:
The Caps embark on their only three-game road trip of the season, against the Rochester Rhinos (July 31), Cleveland City Stars (Aug. 1) and Portland Timbers (Aug. 6).