VANCOUVER, BC - Vancouver Whitecaps FC (10W-8L-6D) host two-time defending MLS Cup champions Los Angeles Galaxy (11W-9L-4D) for a second time this season at BC Place on Saturday night. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. PT.
Kickoff for Saturday's match between Whitecaps FC and L.A. Galaxy is set for 6 p.m. PT and is live on TSN 2, 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 4 p.m. PT. TEAM 1410 will also have a two-hour post-game show, which will begin following the match.
This is the third and final meeting of the regular season between the Western Conference contenders, with each team defending their home turf in each match so far. This will be yet another critical match for both sides in terms of the battle for playoff spots in the supremely tight standings, as the Blue and White trail the Galaxy by a single point for fourth place in the Western Conference playoff picture. With a win, Vancouver could climb back as high as second-place, while a defeat could see them drop as low as eighth-place.
The Blue and White are coming off of a disappointing result in Commerce City, Colorado, this past weekend as they were blanked 2-0 by Colorado Rapids at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. A defensive lapse late in the first half led to Colorado's opening goal from an unmarked Deshorn Brown, while an unfortunate deflection from an Edson Buddel shot beat David Ousted in the second half. The 'Caps had several great chances but were denied time after time by Rapids goalkeeper Clint Irwin. One bright spot for the 'Caps was the return of striker Darren Mattocks, who looked dangerous throughout his 30 minutes on the field.
Last match: Colorado Rapids 2-0 Whitecaps FC
Whitecaps FC will be happy to return to the friendly confines of BC Place, where they've lost only once so far this season (8W-1L-3D overall).
Head coach Martin Rennie will be faced with a tough choice at centre back, as experienced defender Andy O'Brien is available to return to the lineup, while current pairing Carlyle Mitchell and Johnny Leveron have performed admirably together in his absence. Will this be the match he gets back on the field? Another centre back closing in on a return is captain Jay DeMerit, who has been a regular at training the past couple of weeks. It seems unlikely that he will feature this weekend, however the American does have a great deal to look forward to as he gets set for his wedding day on Sunday. Still sidelined are winger Omar Salgado (right foot fracture) and centre back Brad Rusin (right sprained ankle), who are recovering from their respective injuries.
The Galaxy come into the match as the second highest scoring team in the league, with goals aplenty of late - especially off the feet of Designated Players Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane. Head coach Bruce Arena's side are in the midst of a busy week, having off their CONCACAF Champions League campaign on Wednesday with a 2-0 victory over Costa Rican side C.S. Cartagines. Keane continued his fine-form, scoring two second half goals to lead his team to victory.
Last MLS match: LA Galaxy 4-2 Real Salt Lake
Keane's fine week began last Saturday when he netted himseld a second career MLS hat-trick against Real Salt Lake in a 4-2 win at the StubHub Center. The Irish international's performance earned him MLS Player of the Week - the second straight award for the Galaxy after Donovan took home the honour the previous week with a hat-trick of his own against FC Dallas.
In MLS play away from home, LA have struggled to get results, having only won one of their previous eight road matches. That lone win came against against Chivas USA on June 23, meaning that they haven't won an MLS match away from the StubHub Center since May 15, a 4-1 win in Philadelphia.
Los Angeles have a clean bill of health with the exception of goalkeeper Brian Perk, who continues to be sidelined with a concussion. Speaking of goalkeepers, it will be interesting to see who starts in net for the Galaxy on Saturday. The main man between the pipes had been English Premier League veteran Carlo Cudicini, however he's recently watched the past two matches from the sidelines as newcomer Jaime Penedo from Panama has received consecutive starts.
Since joining MLS, Whitecaps FC have a record of 1W-6L-1D versus Los Angeles Galaxy. Both encounters between the clubs this season have been thrillers. On May 11, the ‘Caps recorded their first win in MLS over their Western Conference rivals in front of a sold-out crowd at BC Place. The Blue and White were propelled to a 3-1 victory by Russell Teibert’s first and second goals of his professional career that afternoon. In the return match, the Galaxy avenged their defeat with a 2-1 come-from-behind victory over the ‘Caps on July 20. Camilo put Vancouver in front on 19 minutes, before goals from Jose Villarreal and Gyasi Zardes snatched victory away from the ‘Caps.
May 11, 2013: Whitecaps FC 3-1 LA Galaxy
The 'Caps also faced the Galaxy other in two friendly matches when Vancouver were a North American second division club. On November 7, 2007, the 'Caps drew 0-0 with LA at BC Place, while on May 13, 2008, Vancouver defeated the Galaxy 2-1 in Edmonton.
In terms of player connections, Young-Pyo Lee and Robbie Keane were teammates at Tottenham Hotspur from 2005 to 2008. Keane also played with Whitecaps FC assistant coach Carl Robinson at Wolverhampton Wanderers from 1997 to 1999.
Domestically, Vancouver goalkeeper Joe Cannon and Galaxy striker Landon Donovan led San Jose Earthquakes to the club’s first ever MLS Cup in 2001. Donovan was also one of Canon's best men at his wedding earlier this year.
Following this weekend's tilt, the ‘Caps continue their mini two-match homestand versus Chivas USA on Sunday, September 1st. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m. PT. Tickets are still available for that pivotal clash at whitecapsfc.com/tickets.