Preview: Whitecaps FC off to Kansas City for important Western Conference clash

KANSAS CITY, KS – “If we’re going to go down, we’re going to go down fighting.”

Those were the words of Vancouver Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson this week ahead of Saturday’s important Western Conference clash with Sporting Kansas City.

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

The ‘Caps know they need to get on a run to get into the postseason for the third straight year, and they’re hoping it starts Saturday night in Kansas City.

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

VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC

It’s been a tough couple of a weeks for Whitecaps FC, who now sit two points out of a playoff spot with nine matches remaining, but they’re not giving up hope. To a man, they spoke this week about the belief within the locker room. Robinson also hinted at some lineup changes.  

“I’ve gone passed the stage of thinking that people need to play if they’re not playing well,” Robinson said. “I said to the group there, decisions will be made based upon trying to win a game of football on Saturday.”

The ‘Caps are coming off a 2-1 defeat the hands of San Jose Earthquakes.

SPORTING KANSAS CITY

Sporting KC enter Saturday’s contest fifth in the Western Conference, five points ahead of eighth-place Whitecaps FC. The ‘Caps have a game in hand, however.

At any rate, the importance of this weekend’s match cannot be overstated.

But how much will they have left in the tank? This will be Sporting KC’s third match in the span of a week. They’re coming off a pair of 2-2 draws – last weekend at FC Dallas and Tuesday at Trinidadian club Central FC in CONCACAF Champions League play.

INJURY REPORT

Both teams will be without some key players this weekend.

The ‘Caps are still without left back Jordan Harvey (MCL sprain) and winger/forward Kekuta Manneh (right foot surgery), while Sporting KC are missing the likes of goalkeeper Tim Melia (back spasms), centre back Matt Besler (MCL strain), right back Chance Myers (hamstring strain), and midfielders Brad Davis (calf strain) and Justin Mapp (calf strain).

KEY MATCHUPS

‘Caps centre backs vs. Dom Dwyer (FWD): Whether it’s Tim Parker or Kendall Waston, it seems Vancouver’s centre backs “love butting heads” with Dom Dwyer, a feisty striker who leads Sporting KC with 12 goals this season. Dwyer scored twice in Vancouver’s last visit to Children’s Mercy Park back in Week 2. 

Nicolas Mezquida (M) vs. Roger Espindoza (M): These two players don’t always make the headlines, but you could say they’re the “engines” of their respective teams. Mezquida has been one of Vancouver’s liveliest players as of late, and was rewarded with a late goal last week vs. San Jose. Espinoza, meanwhile, leads KC in touches, successful passes, and duels won.  

Marcel de Jong (LB) vs. Jacob Peterson (RW): With Harvey (MCL sprain) sidelined, expect Canadian international Marcel de Jong to make his fourth straight start at left back. De Jong will be facing his former MLS team for the first team – he made 13 appearances with KC last season. And he’ll likely be matched up against right winger Jacob Peterson, who has now started 12 straight games for KC after being planted on the bench for the first 11.

HEAD-TO-HEAD

Whitecaps FC record vs. Sporting KC: 1W-2L-2D
Whitecaps FC record at Children’s Mercy Park: 0W-3L-1D

This will be the third and final meeting between Vancouver and Sporting KC in league play this season, but the two teams still have a pair of CONCACAF Champions League meetings on tap – starting Tuesday night at BC Place (7 p.m. PT – tickets still available).

The ‘Caps are still searching for their first win at Children’s Mercy Park. 

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.