Building off a big rivalry win against Timbers 2 on Friday night, Whitecaps FC 2 (6W-0L-2D) visit Saint Louis FC (4W-3L-2D) tonight at World Wide Technology Park for what could possibly be the toughest test yet for head coach Alan Koch's fast-developing side.
After their original match on April 30 was postponed due to lightning storms, the two sides will face each other for the first time this season at 5 p.m. this evening. Catch the match on whitecapsfc2.com.
WHITECAPS FC 2
The young ‘Caps side head to Saint Louis coming off their fourth road win of the season (see highlights on the right), already eclipsing last year's away win total. The back line put in a strong performance for WFC2 on Friday, showing that Koch’s lineup selection on defence is working for the side. Goalkeeper Spencer Richey also held steady for the ‘Caps between the posts against Timbers 2, seeing just one ball go into his net off Portland's 17 shots.
Consistent back line starters such as Kadin Chung and Sem de Wit are teaming up well so far this season, with other players like Cole Seiler, Brett Levis, and Jackson Farmer rotating in to complete the daunting WFC2 defensive wall that has let only 10 goals past them this year.
On the attack, Fatawu Safiu continues to cause trouble for the opposing side and has been eye-catching as of late. On Friday, the striker scored a highlight reel worthy curling free kick, just 19 minutes into the match. On his first visit to his former club, the striker earned a USL Team of the Week selection for his goal and overall excellent performance in Portland.
Another player coming into his own is Matthew Baldisimo. The 18-year-old centre midfielder has started the last pair of matches and has proven he can hold his own, having a hand on the wins against LA Galaxy II and Timbers 2.
‘Caps fans may also see some familiar faces back with the side this week. Goalkeeper Marco Carducci, fullback Chris Serban and midfielder Ben McKendry have returned from Canadian national team duties with the U-23 Caribbean tour squad, and are available for WFC2 roster selection again this week. Having attended the 10-day training camp in Toronto with the Canadian side, Serban and McKendry featured for the national team in both matches of the tour, with the latter scoring against Grenada. Carducci also started the second match in net versus Grenada.
SAINT LOUIS FC
Currently fourth place in the Western Conference, Saint Louis FC will be looking to continue their two-game win streak against WFC2 tonight. The Missouri-based side defeated Tulsa Roughnecks last weekend, after a 2-0 win in the U.S. Open Cup against AFC Cleveland on May 18.
The side boasts one of the USL’s most exciting new recruits in El Salvadorian national team striker Irvin Herrera. Joining Saint Louis this season from El Salvador’s Santa Tecla side, Herrera scored his first USL goal on May 7 and has been impressing ever since. In their most recent match against Tulsa, the 24-year-old scored four of Saint Louis’s five goals, setting him up for a USL Player of the Week honour.
Defensively, Saint Louis is proving a difficult side for opposing teams. The team has only let four goals past them in the last five regular season games, supported by a strong back line on the field which includes AJ Cochran, Sam Fink, Richard Dixon, and the rotation of Parker Maher and James Musa since late April. The five have alternated and worked together the past few matches to subdue attacks from teams like Sacramento Republic FC and Swope Park Rangers.
Where is the weak spot here? They do have a collection of yellow cards between them - nine altogether - and thus seem to have a knack for the heavy tackle or two. With that in mind, a gritty match might be in the cards for the ‘Caps tonight, and potential for some more free kick magic.
Following the match, WFC2 head home to Thunderbird Stadium to play two home matches against Real Monarchs SLC. The first match is set for Sunday, May 29, at 2 p.m. Tickets are available for those fans still hoping to head out to UBC that day and watch.
This year, every Tier 1 ‘Caps Club MLS membership includes three open tickets to WFC2 matches. Members can select their matches and theme days online through Account Manager. Information on theme days is available at whitecapsfc.com/wfc2/themedays.
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