Whitecaps set to face Orlando after grabbing 1st win of season

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Vancouver Whitecaps forward Alhassane Bangoura fights for control of the ball with Los Angeles FC defender Mohamed El-Munir during the second half of MLS soccer action in Vancouver, B.C. Wednesday, April 17, 2019. (Jonathan Hayward / CP)

Coming off their first win of the MLS campaign, the Vancouver Whitecaps make their way to Florida to visit Orlando City on Saturday afternoon.

The Whitecaps look to build off many positives taken away from their 1-0 victory at BC Place on Wednesday against Los Angeles FC. For the first time this season, Vancouver led at halftime after South Korea international Hwang In-beom volleyed in his first career MLS goal. They also found a way to limit LAFC’s top scoring duo of Carlos Vela and Diego Rossi (14 goals combined) to just one shot on target.

“Now it’s about building momentum,” Whitecaps goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau said. “We celebrated after the game because it was deserved. It was a small relief, but now it’s a quick turnaround.”

Even though the Whitecaps have just one win over their first seven games, a strong argument can be made that the most valuable player to this point has been Crepeau. He has two shutouts (tying the club-high from 2018) and of the 10 goals he has allowed, four have come off penalty kicks. Those numbers might not seem impressive to some, but for a team that has allowed the most shots against in the league, Crepeau has been a major reason why Vancouver has taken points in three of their last four outings.

“My goal was clear when I came in here was having the #1 spot,” Crepeau admitted. “I really embrace that role and am comfortable in those shoes.”

The Whitecaps’ schedule this week has been anything but comfortable. Last Friday, the club was in Chicago before returning home for Wednesday’s game against L.A. Now the team has made its longest single game road trip of the season. They will face a hungry Orlando squad who not only have allowed the most goals against in the Eastern Conference, but who also have just one win in four home matches.

“The key is to make sure we recover well,” stressed coach Marc Dos Santos. “We need to try and put the best set-up on the field to have as fresh a team as we can against Orlando.

“It’s important against players like Dom Dwyer, Nani, and Sacha Kljestan. It is a team that has players that have experience. It’s going to be a tough game away.”

Saturday’s match between Vancouver and Orlando will likely be appointment viewing for Canada’s national team coach John Herdman, as eight different Canadian players are eligible for action.

Crepeau, as well as defenders Doneil Henry and Derek Cornelius and midfielder Russel Teibert have made the trip from Vancouver.

As for Orlando, forward Tesho Akindele, midfielder Will Johnson and defender Kamal Miller have all seen minutes this season.

Get your weekly dose of news and analysis on the Vancouver Whitecaps by listening to Fine Lines live on Sportsnet 650 every Monday from 9:00 to 10:00 p.m. PT. Hosted by Dan Riccio and J.J. Adams.

NOTES & TIDBITS

Saturday marks just the Whitecaps’ third visit to Orlando. Vancouver won their previous two trips to Florida, most recently a 2-1 victory on Aug. 26, 2017.

Former Portugal international Nani is off to a good start in his first MLS season after signing as a Designated Player for Orlando in February. The 32-year-old has three goals in his last two games and is second overall in the league in assists (four).

Vancouver defenders Scott Sutter and PC Giro return to Orlando for the first time since being picked up in the off-season by the Whitecaps.

Goalkeeper Brian Rowe has started every game this season for Orlando after appearing in just 10 games for Vancouver in 2018.

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