Preview: VANvLA (April 2)

Preview: Big crowd expected as Whitecaps FC host LA Galaxy Saturday at BC Place

VANCOUVER, BC – A crowd of over 27,000 is expected on Saturday night at BC Place when Vancouver Whitecaps FC (2W-2L-0D) host LA Galaxy (2W-1L-0D) for the first and only time this season. Limited tickets are still available: http://ow.ly/106hAK.

KICKOFF: 7 p.m. PT  |  TV: TSN2  |  RADIO: TSN 1040

Here’s everything you need to know about the match.

VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC

After dropping their first two matches, the ‘Caps have now won two straight.

Most recently, they shut out Houston Dynamo – the highest scoring team in MLS – 1-0 despite missing centre backs Tim Parker and Kendall Waston, as well as midfielder Christian Bolanos and striker Blas Perez, due to international duty. All four players are expected to be available for selection on Saturday. Whether or not Carl Robinson will start them after a busy week of travel is another story.

Robinson will be forced to make at least one change with striker Masato Kudo suspended.

Will he insert Perez in Kudo’s place? Or will he revert to a 4-2-3-1 formation? Either way, the ‘Caps will be looking to get going offensively. All six of their goals this season have come from set pieces, including four penalties from captain Pedro Morales.

“We’ve had numerous chances, we just haven’t managed to click in that penalty box,” Robinson told reporters this week. “But that will come. I’ve got no worries about that.”

LA GALAXY

Talk about an injury crisis.

Steven Gerrard (calf), who was pulled out of LA’s last match in the fourth minute, and striker Robbie Keane (knee), who missed Ireland’s international friendly on Tuesday, have both been ruled out for Saturday's contest. On the other hand, Mexican striker Giovani dos Santos (leg), who has only played 45 minutes so far this season, is back to full training.

Either way, Robinson is expecting a tough test for his young side.

The Galaxy are 2W-1L-0D to start the season, outscoring their opponents 7-3 in the process.

“Bruce has done a great job of assembling a start-studded lineup,” Robinson said. “They’re a top team in MLS, we know that. It’s going to be a very tough game for us. It’s a game we look forward to, especially at home. We’ll have thousands of fans out there supporting us. We’re ready to give them a game, but we know it’s not going to be easy.”

KEY MATCHUPS

Pedro Morales (M) vs. Nigel de Jong (M): Morales leads the league with four goals coming into Saturday’s contest. Sure, they’ve all been from the penalty spot, but he’s still “setting the tone for the team,” Robinson said this week. On Saturday, he’ll be lined up directly opposite to de Jong – a Dutch international who played over 200 games combined at Ajax, Manchester City, and AC Milan.

Cristian Techera (W)/Christian Bolanos (W) vs. Ashley Cole (LB): Cole is considered by many as one of the best defenders of his generation. He’s 35 years old now, so it will be interesting to see how he fairs against Vancouver’s attacking talent.

Octavio Rivero (F) vs. Jelle Van Damme (CB): Although Rivero has yet to score a goal this season, Robinson sang his praises this week and suggested “his goals will come.” Will they come on Saturday? Not if Belgian centre back Jelle Van Damme has his way.

HEAD-TO-HEAD

LA has the edge over Whitecaps FC in MLS with an 8W-3L-2D record.

That said, the ‘Caps won both meetings last year – a dominant 2-0 win at BC Place and a 1-0 win at the StubHub Center that ended LA’s 29-match unbeaten run.

Be a part of the best sporting atmosphere in Vancouver! 2016 Whitecaps FC Season Tickets are on sale from $39/month all in. In addition to Season Tickets, Whitecaps FC offer a flexible range of ticket products, including Half-Season Packs, 5-Packs, a Youth Soccer Half-Season Ticket, and single match tickets. For more information, visit whitecapsfc.com/tickets.