Preview: RSLvVAN - April 16

Preview: Whitecaps FC look to bounce back Saturday against unbeaten Real Salt Lake

SANDY, UTAH – This week in training, Vancouver Whitecaps FC midfielder Andrew Jacobson said Saturday’s match vs. Real Salt Lake can’t come quickly enough.

That’s what happens when you lose 4-0 the week before.  

“That’s not us,” Jacobson told reporters.

Suffice to say, the ‘Caps (2W-3L-1D) will be looking for a positive response when they visit unbeaten RSL (3W-0L-2D) on Saturday night at Rio Tinto Stadium.

KICKOFF: 7 p.m. PT  |  TV: TSN1  |  RADIO: TSN 1040

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

VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC

The ‘Caps saw their three-match unbeaten run snapped last weekend, falling 4-0 to D.C. United at RFK Stadium. It was a night to forget for Whitecaps FC, but they're ready to turn the page. 

“You can either sulk about it or get on with it,” head coach Carl Robinson told reporters.

They’ll try to get on with it – even if they’re still missing some key players.  

Last weekend, Robinson was without the services of Designated Players Matias Laba (suspension), Pedro Morales (left hip flexor strain), and Octavio Rivero (right hip flexor strain), in addition to Christian Bolaños (left quad contusion) and Nicolas Mezquida (right knee sprain).

The only certainty is that Laba will be back in the fold vs. RSL after serving a one-match suspension. Beyond that, Robinson said he's hopeful to have some more healthy bodies on the weekend, but he "won't put them at risk." 

REAL SALT LAKE

When asked about Real Salt Lake this week in training, Robinson called them “the best team in the league.” After all, they are the only unbeaten team left in MLS.

Pretty good turnaround for a team that missed the playoffs last season.

“It will be a tough game for us,” Robinson said. “We’ll go there and have a go. We know we’re a good team. We know they’re a very good team. There has to be a team that beats them eventually and hopefully we can be that team.”

A big part of RSL’s success so far has been the play of Joao Plata.

The 5-foot-2 forward already has four goals and three assists. He’s contributed directly towards seven of RSL’s nine goals and has found the scoresheet in five straight games.

KEY MATCHUPS

OK, these aren’t necessarily direct matchups, but here are some key players to watch:

Cristian Techera (W) and Joao Plata (W/F): At 5-foot-2, Techera and Plata are the two shortest players in MLS. On their day, they can also be two of the most exciting. 

David Ousted (GK) and Nick Rimando (GK): Many consider Ousted and Rimando to be two of the best, if not the best, goalkeepers in MLS. Last year, they were both named to the MLS All-Star Team. Talk about a goalkeeper battle. 

Matias Laba (M) and Kyle Beckerman (M): Two of the best defensive midfielders in MLS. No player has more tackles than Laba since he joined the league in 2013. He also leads all midfielders in interceptions – Beckerman is fourth. The ‘Caps missed Laba dearly last weekend. Will he be the difference on Saturday?

HEAD-TO-HEAD

The ‘Caps have had RSL’s number as of late.

Last year, they won all three meetings. They’re also unbeaten against RSL in six matches.

Vancouver’s all-time record vs. RSL is 6W-4L-4D. They’ve had a tougher time on the road, posting a 1W-3L-3D record. However, last year the ‘Caps did earn their first-ever win at Rio Tinto Stadium a 1-0 victory that came almost a year ago to the day

DID YOU KNOW?

Whitecaps FC goalkeeper David Ousted was teammates with RSL forward Yura Movsisyan at Randers FC in Denmark. Postmedia's Marc Weber has more on that here

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