CHESTER, PA – Philadelphia Union were the third worst team in MLS last season. Now, one game away from the midway point of 2016, they sit atop the Eastern Conference standings.
Are they the real deal?
Vancouver Whitecaps FC (6W-7L-3D) will get a first-hand look on Saturday, when they pay visit to the Union (7W-4L-5D) at Talen Energy Stadium.
KICKOFF: 4 p.m. PT | TV: TSN2 | RADIO: TSN 1410
Here’s everything you need to know about the match.
VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC
The ‘Caps enter Saturday’s contest sixth in the Western Conference – just above the red line – with a 6W-7L-3D record. They’re also in the midst of the Amway Canadian Championship Final, having fallen 1-0 to Toronto FC at BMO Field on Tuesday.
The second leg goes next Wednesday at BC Place.
Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson fielded a mixed lineup for Tuesday’s tilt, resting the likes of Matias Laba, Cristian Techera, Nicolas Mezquida, and David Ousted, with an eye towards Philadelphia. Captain Pedro Morales and striker Octavio Rivero, who both started on Tuesday, could return to MLS action after sitting out Vancouver’s last league fixture due to suspension.
Centre back Kendall Waston, meanwhile, still has more game to serve.
What a season it’s been for Philadelphia thus far.
The Eastern Conference-leading Union have lost just one of their last 11 matches in all competitions and are riding a 10-match home unbeaten streak, which matches a franchise record. Their 27 goals are tied for the most in MLS and – up until recently – they’ve been stingy at the back, too.
But the Union have conceded three goals in each of their last two outings, including a 4-3 win over Chicago Fire on Wednesday, so there could be chinks in the armour.
The Union have two players listed as questionable for Saturday match: co-leading goalscorer C.J. Sapong and defender Joshua Yaro, the second overall pick in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft.
Matias Laba (M) vs. Roland Alberg (M): Alberg, a first-year Dutch midfielder, is coming off a midweek hat-trick vs. Chicago. Can Laba keep him in check this weekend?
Kekuta Manneh (LW/F) vs. Keegan Rosenberry (RB): Manneh, who has four goals and two assists so far this season, is always an attacking threat for Vancouver – especially on the road. He’ll likely be going up against Rosenberry, an early candidate for MLS Rookie of the Year.
Jordan Smith (RB) vs. Chris Pontius (LW): Pontius has been the danger man for Philadelphia this season. The longtime D.C. United midfielder/forward leads the team with five goals and four assists in his first season with the club, while playing primarily as a left winger.
DID YOU KNOW?
The ‘Caps have two former Union on their roster in defender Jordan Harvey and midfielder Andrew Jacobson. Meanwhile, Philadelphia’s roster features former ‘Caps midfielder Sebastien Le-Toux.
Record vs. Philadelphia: 2W-2L-2D
Record vs. Philadelphia at Talen Energy Stadium (formerly PPL Park): 0W-1L-2D
This will be the seventh all-time meeting between Vancouver and Philadelphia. Whitecaps FC cruised to a 3-0 home win over a depleted Union side in their lone meeting last season. Vancouver’s last visit to Talen Energy Stadium was a thrilling 3-3 draw in June 2014. The ‘Caps have yet to win at Talen Energy Stadium in three previous visits.
Be a part of the best sporting atmosphere in Vancouver! 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.