Making their second Major League Soccer trip of the season to Southern California, Vancouver Whitecaps FC (4W-13L-10D) take on top MLS club LA Galaxy (15W-3L-10D) on Saturday evening.
The Blue and White head back to Carson, California, looking to build on a two-match unbeaten streak after claiming a home win over Houston Dynamo and an away draw with New York Red Bulls. They visit a Galaxy side that - despite a busy schedule of MLS and CONCACAF Champions League matches at present - have already claimed a spot in this year's MLS Cup Playoffs. Saturday's game is the second league match that Tom Soehn's side will play at The Home Depot Center this season. On June 1, the 'Caps earned a 1-1 draw with Chivas USA at the soccer-specific stadium.
Saturday's match between Whitecaps FC and LA Galaxy from The Home Depot Center in Carson, California, kicks off at 7:30 p.m. PT and is live on Rogers Sportsnet Pacific and Bell mobile devices. 'Caps fans can also listen to Saturday's contest live on TEAM 1040 radio and teamradio.ca, starting with the pre-game show at 5:30 p.m. PT. TEAM 1040 will also have a two-hour post-game show, which will begin following the match at around 9:30 p.m. PT.
A draw in one of the league's tougher venues is usually considered a good result, but Soehn's squad were a frustrated bunch after seeing a fine first-half effort at New York Red Bulls conclude in a 1-1 draw against the hosts, who earned a point with ten men in the second half. Such is the desire among the 'Caps to claim that first away win in MLS that the fact Vancouver have bounced back well from tough away defeats to D.C. United and Portland Timbers was not enough to hide their disappointment in Harrison, New Jersey, last weekend.
Nonetheless, Whitecaps FC head into arguably their toughest road trip of 2011 with plenty of confidence after showing good form and resiliency in their last two games. The 'Caps will need to put in a complete performance versus the Galaxy on Saturday, with LA the only club in MLS not to lose a single match at home this season. While the task of getting a result against the Galaxy may look challenging, the 'Caps should enjoy the confines of the Home Depot Center pitch, having looked comfortable on the large playing surface against Chivas USA earlier in the season, as well as on a similar pitch at Red Bull Arena last weekend.
Whitecaps FC are still without striker Atiba Harris and young goalkeeper Brian Sylvestre (both knee), as well as midfielder Russell Teibert (toe laceration). Michael Nanchoff (iliotibial band syndrome) and John Thorrington (groin) are listed as doubtful, while playmaker Davide Chiumiento (ankle) is probable for the trip to LA.
For much of the 2011 campaign, the Galaxy have lived up to their much-publicized billing as favourites for the 2011 MLS Cup title. Bruce Arena's side have every incentive to reach the final on Sunday, November 20, as this year's match takes place at The Home Depot Center. With six games left to play, LA look on course to claim their second straight MLS Supporters' Shield title as regular season champions, with nearest challengers Seattle Sounders FC seven points adrift of LA. They come into Saturday's contest with an impressive 9W-0L-5D home record and an unbeaten run of four straight league matches (3W-0L-1D).
The Southern California outfit are also staking their claim to be the top club side in CONCACAF, with the Galaxy in currently involved in the CONCACAF Champions League group stage. In fact, LA come into their clash with Vancouver off the back of a controversial 2-1 away defeat to Monarcas Morelia on Tuesday. Despite leaving star midfielder David Beckham (back spasms) and talented Brazilian Juninho (hamstring) out of the trip to Mexico, LA played a strong line-up in Morelia, with their Designated Player signing in Republic of Ireland international captain Robbie Keane finding the scoresheet in a losing effort. Keane's arrival in LA is looked upon as the last piece in the Galaxy's puzzle to see their aspirations of another MLS Cup title become reality in late November. Before Thursday's MLS roster freeze, LA also acquired former Chicago Fire defender Dasan Robinson from Toronto FC in exchange for defender Kyle Davies.
The Galaxy will be without Sean Alvarado (knee), Gregg Berhalter (foot), Sean Franklin (knee), and Leonardo (knee). Beckham and Juninho are listed as questionable for Saturday's home game with the 'Caps.
This will be the second competitive meeting between Whitecaps FC and the Galaxy. On July 30, LA ran out convincing 4-0 winners over Vancouver on Bell Pitch at Empire Field. Two goals by Landon Donovan led the Galaxy to victory, with Sean Franklin and Adam Cristman also finding the scoresheet for the visitors. Both clubs also met twice in preseason at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona. The Galaxy defeated Whitecaps FC 2-0 on February 21 before LA repeated that scoreline against Vancouver the following day on February 22. The two clubs have also met twice in the MLS Reserve League this season. On June 20, the Galaxy reserves defeated the 'Caps second string 2-1 in California before both reserve sides drew 2-2 at Empire Field on July 31.
Prior to this season, Whitecaps FC and the Galaxy faced each other in two recent friendly contests when Vancouver were a North American second division club. On November 7, 2007, a crowd of 48,172 filled BC Place to see the 'Caps draw 0-0 with LA, while on May 13, 2008, Vancouver defeated the Galaxy 2-1 in front of 37,104 fans at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, Alberta.
During the days of the North American Soccer League, Whitecaps FC played Los Angeles Aztecs 19 times between 1974 and 1981. The 'Caps registered 10 wins and nine defeats during that time. This included seven wins and two defeats against the Aztecs at home. Carl Valentine was Whitecaps FC's all-time leading scorer against the Aztecs with four goals, while Bob Lenarduzzi scored two goals against LA during that era.
Saturday's match also sees two Whitecaps FC players in goalkeeper Joe Cannon and midfielder Pete Vagenas face their former club. Galaxy goalkeeper Josh Saunders, meanwhile, played Vancouver during his days in the old United Soccer Leagues First Division.
Following the weekend trip to Southern California, Whitecaps FC return home to play their final match on Bell Pitch at Empire Field on Saturday, September 24. For the first time in MLS, the 'Caps will host Pacific Northwest rivals Seattle Sounders FC in an important Cascadia Cup derby clash at 7:30 p.m. PT. Individual match tickets start at $20, plus applicable service charges, and are available at all Ticketmaster Ticket Centres, online at ticketmaster.ca, and Charge-by-Phone at 1.855.6.GO-CAPS (1.855.646.2277).
Whitecaps FC's home match versus Seattle Sounders FC can also be seen live on TSN and Bell mobile devices at 7:30 p.m. PT. 'Caps fans can also listen to the September 24 contest live on TEAM 1040 radio and teamradio.ca, starting with the pre-game show at 5:30 p.m. PT. TEAM 1040 will also have a two-hour post-game show, which will begin following the match at around 9:30 p.m. PT.
MLS single match tickets are also available for our 2011 matches on Bell Pitch downtown at BC Place, ranging from $20 to $55 (including HST). All tickets are subject to applicable service charges and fees. Fans can purchase these tickets at all Ticketmaster Ticket Centres, online at ticketmaster.ca/whitecaps, or Charge-by-Phone at 1.855.6.GO-CAPS (1.855.646.2277).