Looking to build on an important midweek road victory, Vancouver Whitecaps FC (8W-4L-5D) return to Southern California for a second Major League Soccer meeting of 2012 versus Western Conference rivals Chivas USA (5W-7L-4D) on Saturday evening.
Boosted by Wednesday’s 1-0 victory at Colorado Rapids, Martin Rennie’s side look to remain upwardly mobile with another all-Western Conference clash at a familiar venue, as the Blue and White will be paying their third visit of the season to The Home Depot Center to face Robin Fraser’s side. Vancouver’s first meeting versus The Goats this season went the way of the ‘Caps, who claimed their first away win as an MLS club with a 1-0 victory on March 17. Captain Jay DeMerit’s first goal for Whitecaps FC was enough to earn three valuable away points in Week Two.
Whitecaps FC versus Chivas USA from The Home Depot Center in Carson, California, kicks off at 7:30 p.m. PT and can be seen live on Sportsnet Pacific, Sportsnet West, and Sportsnet ONE, as well as 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 5:30 p.m. PT. TEAM 1410 will also have a two-hour post-game show, which will begin following the match at around 9:30 p.m. PT. Fans can also follow Saturday’s match on Twitter @WhitecapsMatch.
Performances of the road are never that pleasing on the eye, but few Whitecaps FC supporters would have minded that much on Wednesday after Darren Mattocks showed his predatory instincts to punish Colorado and earn Vancouver all three points. As the ‘Caps now head into the second half of the season, not only does a 3W-3L-2D record away from home make good reading, a 5W-2L-2D record versus Western Conference opposition is a positive sign that Vancouver will be in the reckoning for this year’s MLS Cup Playoffs. One ingredient for that success is a league-leading eight clean sheets, which is nearly half of the club’s MLS matches with a shutout.
Wednesday also saw the MLS debut of Designated Player Barry Robson, with the Scottish international putting in 57 minutes of solid work in the heat and altitude of Colorado. The 33-year-old’s passion and commitment was on display at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park and his influence on the Blue and White may prove pivotal in the weeks and months to come.
Should Robson earn another start, he may have Jun Marques Davidson alongside him in midfield. The former Carolina RailHawks man missed Wednesday’s win through suspension, but will be available to face The Goats. The same cannot be said for Mattocks, whose late booking versus the Rapids means he will miss this weekend’s game for caution accumulation.
Whitecaps FC are also without five players on Saturday. Goalkeeper Brian Sylvestre is nearly back in full training after the United States youth international endured a lengthy recovery from knee surgery last year. Striker Atiba Harris is on the sidelines until the summer after undergoing a successful operation to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee on May 25. Striker Omar Salgado will be out of action for most of the summer after suffering a right foot fracture, while on international duty with the United States U-20 squad in Uruguay last month. Midfielder John Thorrington suffered a quad strain against LA Galaxy on June 23. Matt Watson is listed as doubtful with a sprain in his right ankle.
Well rested and ready to push up the Western Conference standings, Chivas USA will be looking to avenge their earlier defeat to Vancouver this season and get back into the postseason chase. On a two-match unbeaten streak in MLS, The Goats have also reached this year’s Lamar Hunt US Open Cup semifinals, where they will visit three-time cup holders Seattle Sounders FC on Tuesday.
Fraser’s squad has seen changes since Whitecaps FC last played The Goats back in the spring. The arrival of former Philadelphia Union captain Danny Califf has helped bolster the Southern California outfit’s backline, while the addition of talented American youngster Juan Agudelo from New York Red Bulls will be a boost to their attack, but not likely on Saturday. The United States international is questionable for the visit of Whitecaps FC after injuring his left knee. On Friday, Chivas USA re-acquired defender Bobby Burling from Montreal Impact in exchange for an international roster spot in 2013. The former San Jose Earthquakes man’s first spell with The Goats was from 2007 to 2009.
Chivas USA will also be without midfielders Marvin Iraheta (knee) and Oswaldo Minda (suspension) this weekend, while midfielder Miller Bolaños (hamstring) and striker Tristen Bowen (ankle) are listed as doubtful. Defender John Valencia (hamstring) is questionable to face Whitecaps FC, while midfielder Ryan Smith (concussion) is listed as probable.
Saturday’s match is the fourth meeting between Whitecaps FC and Chivas USA. Before this season, both clubs met twice during Vancouver’s inaugural MLS season last year. On April 16, 2011, Vancouver and Chivas USA battled to a goalless draw at Empire Field before settling for another stalemate at The Home Depot Center on June 1, 2011. In what was Tom Soehn’s first match as ‘Caps interim head coach, Camilo Sanvezzo cancelled out Nick LaBrocca's opening goal for The Goats in a 1-1 draw. The ‘Caps finished the match with ten men after Eric Hassli was sent off in the second half. Both clubs also met in a preseason friendly in Casa Grande, Arizona, on February 18, 2011. Whitecaps FC suffered a late 1-0 defeat to the Southern California outfit after a last-minute strike by Jesús Padilla.
While there is not much history between the two clubs, there are many ties between both sets of players. Harris spent two seasons with Chivas USA, while Salgado was in the youth system of Chivas USA’s parent club – Mexican giants Club Deportivo (Chivas) Guadalajara. Chivas USA’s Peter Vagenas made 16 appearances for Whitecaps FC during their inaugural MLS season of 2011, while the midfielder, James Riley, and Sebastien Le Toux all played together for Seattle Sounders FC during their inaugural MLS season of 2009. Alejandro Moreno was a Vancouver selection in the 2010 MLS Expansion Draft before he was traded to The Goats. The South American was also teammates with Califf, Le Toux, Whitecaps FC goalkeeper Brad Knighton, and ‘Caps left fullback Jordan Harvey during Philadelphia Union’s inaugural MLS season of 2010. Harvey and LaBrocca, meanwhile, were teammates at Colorado Rapids. ‘Caps midfielder Michael Nanchoff played with Chivas USA’s Blair Gavin and Ben Zemanski at the University of Akron.
As Western Conference opponents, Whitecaps FC and Chivas USA will meet for a third and final time this regular season on Bell Pitch at BC Place on Wednesday, October 3.
NEXT UP: A CANADIAN CLASH
Following the weekend trip to Chivas USA, Whitecaps FC will head east to Southern Ontario for their lone regular season clash versus Canadian arch-rivals Toronto FC next Wednesday night. Kickoff from BMO Field in Toronto, Ontario, is set for 4 p.m. PT and can be seen live on TSN and Bell mobile devices. 'Caps fans can also listen to Wednesday’s match live on TEAM 1410 radio and teamradio.ca, starting with the pre-game show at 2 p.m. PT. TEAM 1410 will also have a two-hour post-game show, which will begin following the match at around 6 p.m. PT. Fans can also follow Wednesday’s match on Twitter @WhitecapsMatch.
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