Continuing their extended run of away matches, Vancouver Whitecaps FC (10W-10L-7D) make a second Major League Soccer visit of 2012 to Western Conference rivals LA Galaxy (12W-11L-4D) on Saturday evening.
This weekend’s match sees Martin Rennie’s side complete their regular season schedule of four league games at The Home Depot Center, with the Blue and White looking to get level on points with the Galaxy in the MLS Western Conference standings by earning a first-ever league win over LA. In their previous two meetings this season, Whitecaps FC suffered a 3-0 away defeat to the Galaxy on June 23 before they were held to a 2-2 draw by LA on Bell Pitch at BC Place on July 18.
Whitecaps FC versus LA Galaxy from The Home Depot Center in Carson, California, kicks off at 7 p.m. PT and can be seen live on TSN2 and Bell mobile devices. 'Caps fans can also listen to Saturday’s match live on TEAM 1410 radio 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, which will begin following the match at around 9 p.m. PT. Fans can also follow Saturday’s match on Twitter @WhitecapsMatch.
It’s been a week to reflect and re-focus for Whitecaps FC, who head to Southern California with a view to starting the month of September in positive fashion after a difficult August that resulted in three straight league defeats. Whitecaps FC know that the Galaxy match is a big opportunity to reach the 40-point mark and draw closer to the clubs above them in the Western Conference standings. Only six points separate Whitecaps FC in fifth place and Seattle in second place, with clubs in the west playing each other for the most part in this regular season run-in.
With an equally important mid-September clash at FC Dallas and four straight home matches to come, Rennie is set to freshen up his starting XI against the Galaxy. Among those that will be taking a break is right fullback Young-Pyo Lee. The 35-year-old has appeared in every minute of Whitecaps FC’s MLS campaign so far this season, and Rennie confirmed this week that the experienced South Korean defender will sit out the trip to LA. The ‘Caps will also be without striker Darren Mattocks following his red card in Portland last weekend.
As Vancouver enter the final stage of the regular season, they have been boosted by the news that striker Omar Salgado is nearing a full recovery from the foot fracture he suffered while on international duty with the United States U-20 squad in Uruguay on June 6. Also on this week’s injury list is centre back Andy O'Brien and central midfielder Gershon Koffie. That pair are listed as probable with right adductor strains.
With just one defeat in their last 11 competitive matches, LA have started to look more like the side that cruised to the MLS Cup title in 2011. Their aims to be upwardly mobile in the Western Conference prompted head coach Bruce Arena to rest most of his starting XI on Wednesday night, as a younger-looking Galaxy line-up defeated North American Soccer League side Puerto Rico Islanders 4-0 at The Home Depot Center to remain top of Group Five in the 2012-13 CONCACAF Champions League. The match also saw the return of striker Edson Buddle from recent knee surgery.
The midweek result underlines the depth of quality that LA possess, though Arena knows their goal of a successful MLS Cup title defence requires the services of the club’s three Designated Players. While striker Robbie Keane will likely lead the LA attack, David Beckham has been battling a stomach illness that saw the former England captain struggle through 78 minutes of last Sunday’s 2-0 home win over FC Dallas. The bigger question surrounds the fitness of Landon Donovan, who is questionable with a hamstring strain. If he does not play on Saturday, it will be interesting to see if he will appear with Jurgen Klinsmann’s United States squad for two important FIFA World Cup qualifiers versus Mattocks, Dane Richards, and Jamaica next week.
The Galaxy will be without defender Leonardo (knee), while centre back David Junior Lopes (ankle) and midfielder Kyle Nakazawa (back) are listed as questionable.
Saturday’s match will be the fifth competitive meeting between Whitecaps FC and the Galaxy, with LA winning both MLS encounters last season. Their inaugural league meeting took place on July 30, 2011, with LA running out convincing 4-0 winners over Vancouver at Empire Field. Two goals by Donovan led the Galaxy to victory, with Sean Franklin and Adam Cristman also finding the scoresheet for the visitors. The Galaxy followed that with a 3-0 home win over Whitecaps FC on September 17, 2011. Two goals by Mike Magee and a second-half strike by Keane gave LA a comfortable win at The Home Depot Center last season.
Prior to 2011, Whitecaps FC and the Galaxy faced each other in two 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.
Whitecaps FC also have prior history of playing clubs from the ‘City of Angels’. During the days of the old North American Soccer League, Vancouver played Los Angeles Aztecs 19 times between 1974 and 1981. The 'Caps registered a 10W-9L overall record and a 3W-7L record versus the Aztecs in LA. 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. Then in the days of the old American Professional Soccer League, Vancouver played Los Angeles Salsa 10 times between 1993 and 1994. They registered a 3W-7L overall record and a 2W-2L record in LA.
There are several connections between Whitecaps FC and the Galaxy. ‘Caps goalkeeper Joe Cannon played for LA in 2007 and was teammates with Donovan at the Galaxy and San Jose Earthquakes. Keane and Y.P. Lee were teammates at English Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur FC. The Galaxy duo of goalkeeper Josh Saunders and defender Bryan Jordan all played against Whitecaps FC at the North American second division level. Arena and Whitecaps FC director of soccer operations Tom Soehn are former D.C. United head coaches, while Jordan Harvey and Brad Knighton were teammates with LA goalkeeper Brian Perk at Philadelphia Union.
Between 1974 and 2012, Whitecaps FC have an all-time record of 13W-19L-1D versus clubs from LA and a 5W-11L-0D all-time record in the ‘City of Angels’. This makes Saturday’s game the 34th time Whitecaps FC have played a competitive match versus an LA-based club.
THEN ON TO TEXAS…
Following the important weekend clash in LA, Whitecaps FC will complete their four-match road swing in two weeks after the upcoming international break for 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying. On Saturday, September 15, Whitecaps FC travel to Frisco, Texas, for their third and final regular season meeting versus Western Conference rivals FC Dallas. Kickoff from FC Dallas Stadium is set for 5:30 p.m. PT and can be seen live on Sportsnet Pacific and Bell mobile devices. 'Caps fans can also listen to the September 15 match live on TEAM 1040 radio (change from TEAM 1410) and teamradio.ca, starting with the pre-game show at 3:30 p.m. PT. TEAM 1040 will also have a two-hour post-game show, which will begin following the match at around 7:30 p.m. PT. Fans can also follow the September 15 match on Twitter @WhitecapsMatch.
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