SANDY, UT – Their Champions League journey may be over, but – in a way – Vancouver Whitecaps FC’s (1W-2L-1D) Major League Soccer campaign is only just beginning. After a midweek loss to Tigres UANL, the ‘Caps return to league play on Saturday night when they pay visit to Real Salt Lake (0W-3L-2D) at Rio Tinto Stadium.
KICKOFF: 6:30 p.m. PT | TV: TSN 4/5 | RADIO: TSN 1410
Here’s everything you need to know about the match.
Undivided attention: Vancouver’s historic run in the CONCACAF Champions League came to a heartbreaking end on Wednesday night at BC Place. It was not the storybook ending Whitecaps FC had in mind, but if there’s any consolation it’s that the ‘Caps can now focus their attention squarely on MLS play. Last weekend, Vancouver picked up their first win of the season in a thrilling 4-2 win over LA Galaxy – can they keep things rolling Saturday night in Utah?
Mixing it up? The ‘Caps are coming off a pair of emotional matches against LA Galaxy on Saturday and Tigres UANL on Wednesday. Nine players started both of those games, and two of them suffered injuries (Erik Hurtado and Brek Shea), so don’t be surprised to see some changes to Carl Robinson’s starting lineup this weekend. Could newcomer Tony Tchani make his first start of the season? How about veteran Mauro Rosales or youngster Marco Bustos?
Wounded animal: RSL are one of just three teams – and the only team in the Western Conference – who have yet to win a game this season. This will be new head coach Mike Petke’s home debut as the man in charge after a 4-2 loss at expansion side Minnesota United FC last weekend. “It was as low as you could get after the Minnesota game in the locker room,” said midfielder Luke Mulholland. Safe to say they’re going to be as motivated as ever come Saturday.
Coach connection: Speaking of Petke, he and Robinson played together in 2010 and coached together in 2011 with New York Red Bulls. In that second year, Petke was also New York’s manager of business operations, while Robinson served the dual role as a player/assistant coach. The two of them know each other very well and exchanged a lot of ideas as they broke into the coaching ranks, which will be an interesting subplot come Saturday night.
Cristian Techera (W) vs. Joao Plata (FWD/W): No, these two won’t necessarily be lined up against one another, but they’re still two players you’ll want to keep an eye on. Why? Well, for starters, they’re just fun to watch – see Techera’s performance against LA Galaxy last weekend. But here’s another reason: at 5-foot-2, they’re the two shortest players in MLS. Interestingly enough, four of Techera’s 10 goals in MLS have come against Salt Lake.
"I don’t think we need to feel sorry for ourselves. I think we put on a good performance. We were up against a good team and we did all that we could to try and get the result. Unfortunately, we didn’t. Now it’s onto MLS, now it’s onto a really difficult game against somewhat of a wounded opponent in Salt Lake. We know they want to get the win at home and get after us. We’ll have to be ready for that challenge." - Whitecaps FC goalkeeper David Ousted