Here are some storylines and other interesting tidbits to keep in mind ahead of Saturday evening’s contest between the Vancouver Whitecaps and Real Salt Lake in Utah.
It was a brilliant start to the season for the Whitecaps. Since then, not so much.
After winning its first two games of the MLS campaign – including blanking Canadian rivals Toronto FC 2-0 at home, Vancouver has been outscored 10-6 in its last six league outings, losing three and drawing three.
But maybe momentum is on the ‘Caps side.
For one, Vancouver is coming off a 2-0 win against FC Edmonton in midweek to advance to the final of the Canadian club championship.
And last week, the Whitecaps trailed FC Dallas by two goals before fighting back to earn a 2-2 draw at home.
“I’m so proud of the players for how they dug themselves out of a very difficult situation,” coach Martin Rennie said. “I know we’ve got a good team. I know we’ve got good players. I know that the quality will come.”
Six games without a win is nothing compared to Vancouver’s road woes.
The Whitecaps are winless in their last 14 road games in MLS with a 0-11-3 record, a stretch that dates back to July 7, 2012 and has seen them outscored 22-8.
“Some of the goals we’ve conceded have been a bit unlucky and some of them were superb. But ultimately you get judged on clean sheets and the more of them you keep the better you’re regarded. It isn’t going to happen every week but we go to Salt Lake in good form.” – Whitecaps centre back Andy O’Brien to the Canadian Press
“Seven goals in nine games isn’t good enough. We need to score more goals, there’s no dancing around that. That’s not just on our forwards, but on our midfielders too. … It’s a team effort. We need our defenders to bang one in on set pieces, and that hasn’t happened yet.” – RSL general manager Garth Lagerwey, to The Salt Lake Tribune
– The all-time series between Vancouver and Salt Lake is split evenly, with two wins, two draws and two draws apiece.
– Salt Lake is undefeated at home against Vancouver, with two wins and a draw.
– These teams played to a 1-1 draw in Vancouver last month, and will meet one more time this season, on Sept. 28 in Salt Lake.
The Whitecaps will be without veteran striker Kenny Miller (hamstring) and continue to miss captain Jay DeMerit, who is indefinitely sidelined due to a left Achilles tendon rupture. Defender Brad Rusin has an undisclosed injury and his status for Saturday’s match is unknown.
Real Salt Lake will be missing leading goal scorer Alvaro Saborio (quad injury). Midfielder Olmes Garcia and striker Robbie Findley are questionable.
After Saturday’s game, the Whitecaps return to MLS action on May 11 when they host the LA Galaxy. Four days later, they travel to Quebec to face the Montreal Impact in the first leg of the Canadian club championship final.